A General Look – (Genel Bakış)
Fethiye (Greek: Makri) is a city and district of Muğla Province in the Aegean region of Turkey with about 68,000 inhabitants (2008). Modern day Fethiye is located on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos, the ruins of which can be seen in the city, e.g. the Hellenistic theatre by the main quay.
The history of Fethiye, known as Telmessos in the antique period, and the most important city of LYCIA -one of the oldest Anatolian Civilisations- reaches far back to 5th century BC.
A Lycian legend explains the source of the name Telmessos as follows: “The god Apollo falls in love with the youngest daughter of the King of Phoenicia, Agenor. He disguises himself as a small dog and thus gains the love of the shy, withdrawn daughter. After he reappears as a handsome man, they have a son, whom they name ‘Telmessos’ (the land of lights). The city became part of the first state of the Persians after the invasion of the Persian King Harpagos in 547 BC., along with other Lycian and Carian cities. Telmessos then joined the Attic-Delos Union established in mid. 5th century BC. and, although it later left the union and became an independent city, continued its relations with the union till 4th century BC.
Legend says that Alexander the Great, on a mission to invade Anatolia in the winter of 334-333 BC, entered Telmessos harbour with his fleet. The commander of the fleet, Nekros, asks permission of King Antipatrides of Telmessos for his musicians and slaves to enter the city. On getting the permission, the warriors with weapons hidden in the flute boxes capture the acropolis during the feasts held at night.
After being taken over in 1284 by Menteseogullari, a Turkish nation migrating from Central Asia into Asia Minor, the city was named Megri, meaning ‘far city’, and was included in the Ottoman Empire in 1424.
In 1934, the city was renamed as FETHIYE in honor of Fethi Bey, a martyr pilot of the Turkish War of Independence.
An interesting peculiarity of the ancient city is the fame of its oracles. The oracles of Telmessos, devoted to Apollo, have had great impact on the course of ancient history
It is one of Turkey’s well-known tourist centres and is especially prized during the summer.
Turkey In the last ten years Fethiye has become a magnet for British citizens. Apart from its climate and natural beauty, the Britons are attracted by its less expensive lifestyle and the hospitality of the local people. The British population in Turkey is between 34,000 and 38,000. As a result of the large British population and the high numbers of Britons going there for holiday, Fethiye-Öludeniz was chosen as the best tourism centre in the world by The Times and The Guardian newspapers in 2007. Over 7,000 British citizens permanently live in Fethiye, while approximately 600,000 British tourists visit the town every summer.
The Fethiye Museum, which is very rich in ancient and more recent artifacts, displays and testifies to the successive chain of civilizations that existed in the area, starting with the ancient Lycians.
If all places and all seas were known by a colour, Fethiye’s colour would be turquoise. The word turquoise, a blue that has more than a hint of green, comes from the blue used in the Turkish tile work. The most beautiful shade of the colour blue came and settled on the waters of the Ölüdeniz (Dead Sea). Towards evening, around sunset, you catch such a wonderful turquoise you can never see on any other seas. If you call it blue you are wrong, if you say it is green it is not that either but both together. It is difficult to put it into words. It is best if you go and see it for yourself and be hit by a lightening bolt!
Once you get to Fethiye and check into you accommodation, get out and see the bazaar, once you visit the town’s pleasant bazaar you feel as if everything has been planned and preserved for you, with its narrow and shady streets and tiny squares. You will forget about being a foreigner and feel as if you have lived here for years.
However, once it is the evening the colour and nature of the market will suddenly change. It is now the time for the restaurants and bars. The fish start sizzling on the grill and the aniseed scent of Turkey’s national drink, rakı, can be smelled. The heat of the day is left behind and the coolness of the evening settles in.
It is not easy to visit the region surrounding Fethiye in just a few days. Here are all you will need and want for a holiday. History, culture, nature, beaches, aqua sports, the best paragliding in Turkey, the most impressive historical sites, best coves, cuisine and shopping. The number of places that you can get such full on holiday and enjoy it other than Fethiye itself are rare. This is why it is difficult to fit Fethiye into just a few pages. Let us begin our trip.
The Town Tour – (Şehir Turu)
In ancient times Telmessos was famed as the city of the oracles. The ancient city was founded on a large area of land, running from the foothills of the mountains that are the backdrop for modern Fethiye and all the way down to the gulf. You can see the remains of the city today. Once you look above, you will see the tomb of King Amyntas.
The tomb is in the Ionic style and in shape of a temple. In its front you can see two columns, on the centre of the left hand column is written “Son of Hermapias Amyntas”. Inside there are three stone benches. Inside and around the town you will come across many tombs carved into the rocks and other types. The most important one is the monumental Lycian tomb next to the Post Office (PTT) that is covered with reliefs of warriors. On the hill that rises to the south of the town there are the ruins of a castle that is believed to have been built by the Knights of St. John on the site of the Telmessos acropolis. The castle was later used by the Ottomans. Those who climb up the hill will see the remains of the castle, cisterns and a small cemetery of rock-cut tombs on the east of the hill.
The Telmessos theatre was unearthed after the excavations above the port. The theatre, with a capacity of 5,000 people, was built in the Early Roman era and restored in the 2nd century AD, later being used as an arena in the Byzantine era. In its present condition the theatre can seat 1,500 people and restoration work is underway. Among the Ottoman era buildings in Fethiye, there is the Eski Cami (Old Mosque), built in 1791, and the Fethiye Hamamı (Turkish Bath). Both are in the Paspatur Çarşısı (Bazaar). The 14 domed, six arched bath is still in use. The Fethiye Martyrs Memorial was opened in 2001 and commemorates those lost their lives in the Independence War, the Çanakkale War (Gallipoli Campaign) and the Korean War. The reliefs that surround the memorial depict soldiers killed in the wars.
Fethiye in History
In the ancient times on the site of modern Fethiye used to stand the city of Telmessos. The city was one of the most important of the Lycian region, being on the western border of Lycia. The west of the ancient city was the Carian region. It is believed that Telmossos was founded in the 5th century BC, though here is no concrete information on the exact date. According to the legend the city was founded by the God of the Sun, Apollon. Apollon fell in love with the youngest daughter of Agenor, the King of Finike. In order to approach the shy girl he transformed himself into the shape of a cute dog. They got married. They had a son and named him Telmessos. Apollon gave his son’s name to the city he founded. Even if the Lycian god Apollon did found the city, all Lycian and Carian cities didn’t last long, coming under the rule of the Persians in 547 BC as associated satraps of the kingdom. In the middle of the 5th century BC Telmessos joined the Attik-Delos union. In the winter of 344-343 BC it surrendered to the army of Alexander the Great. In 189 BC became part of the Kingdom of Bergama. After Bergama fell to the Romans in 133 BC it joined the Lycian Federation and became one of the most important of the six cities of the union. In the 8th Century Telmessos was renamed as Anastasiapolis in honour of Byzantine Emperor Anastasios II. In 1284 captured by the Turkish Menteşeoğulları and 1424 became a part of the Ottoman Empire, becoming known as Meğri. Its present name was given in 1934 in memorial of a Turkish pilot Fethi Bey, who was killed in an airplane accident a few years ago.
Transport – (Ulaşım)
Those who come by road from the west can drive through Aydın, Muğla and Köyceğiz. There are buses running from almost all of Turkey’s major cities to Fethiye.
If you are flying in, you will land at Dalaman Airport. There are domestic and international flights in both summer and winter to Dalaman. The distance between Dalaman and Fethiye is 55 kilometres. There are regular buses that operate on this route.
Internal Transport – (Şehiriçi ulaşım)
There are shared minibuses called ‘Dolmuş’ running non-stop between Fethiye and the other places of interest in summer season and also in winter but more infrequent. Between Fethiye and Çalış Beach there are minibuses and small boats running out to Gemile and other islands.
What to eat? – (Ne yenir)
It is possible to find excellent seafood in places around Fethiye’s centre Municipality Park, the restaurants around the quay and the restaurants on newly constructed seaside road on the way to Calış Beach.
Around the area of the Paspatur bazaar area you will find restaurants serving home style foods, kebabs and Turkish pizzas (pide). Those who want to eat fish should go to the fish restaurants along the sea side, or to the “fish market” in the centre of Fethiye. There you will see a range of both small and large sea and fresh water fish and seafood. A great tip is to buy some fresh fish from a stall holder and then ask one of the restaurants that fringe the fish market to prepare and cook it for you. There’s a small charge for cooking the fish you buy, then sit back and watch them prepare it, cook it and serve with the usual salad, delicious mezes and drink of your choice. The fish market is a must-see place if you like seafood and a lively atmosphere.
For those who want to eat seafood at Ölüdeniz, we recommend the well-designed restaurant, The White Dolphin, on the steep hill on the way to the Kıdrak Beach.
In Hisarönü, apart from a limited number of Turkish cuisine choices, there is the option of döner and kebab dishes. Besides, there are international cusines such as Italian, Chineese and Indian.
By contrast, Göcek can offer a rich variety of seafood. At the restaurants around the coves of Göcek, though not in town centre, you can have seafood and tandır (a Turkish tandoori like meat dish).
On the Fethiye-Göcek road in the İnlice region or on the way to Saklıkent and around ancient city of Tlos you mainly get gözleme and ayran. Nearby Tlos in the Yaka park area you can get gözleme and ayran and also trout served in a natural park atmosphere.
Throughout the year the restaurants 60 kilometres down the Fethiye-Antalya road after you pass the Karabel Passage are open. In winter you dine indoors but in summer you can sit in the garden of the restaurant and enjoy your tandır kebab, village chicken, the yoghurt from the high plateaus and village bread served with butter and some types of cheese.
After May, if you want to eat trout, sautéed meat, saç börek (Turkish grilled pastry), village bread and yoghurt at a height of 1857 metres you should first go to the hamlet of Seki and then travel for another 12 kilometres along a stabilised road to where the open restaurants under the shade of fruit trees and willow trees are. There is ice cold spring water running next to the restaurant.
Entertainment – (Eğlence)
The Fethiye nights are as crazy as the Bodrum or Marmaris ones. Those who seek music and entertainment choose to stay in the centre of Fethiye, Hisarönü or Ölüdeniz.There are too many places that play music in Göcek as well.
The marketplace – (Pazaryeri)
The Fethiye bazaar is very colourful. On Tuesdays you have the weekly local market set up. You do not get the general disorder you get in other bazaars. The sections for fruit and vegetable stalls, clothing and handcraft are all organized. The Paspatur shopping district is just opposite the building housing the provincial governor’s office.
In the bazaar you have everything from fish to vegetables and fruit, hand woven clothes to the art works and clothing. The prices are among the cheapest of all the regular markets.
Do not worry if you get hungry, there are many options, from kebabs to home cooked food.
Accommodation – (Konaklama)
The are many small or large hotels, pensions and holiday villages in the centre of Fethiye, at the nearby coves, Çalış Beach, Ovacık, Hisarönü, Ölüdeniz, Kayaköy and Göcek.
Handcrafts – (El sanatları)
Kayaköy is famous for its carpets. The wool is spun using the traditional methods, coloured with natural dyes and woven by the Kayaköy village women on workbenches locally known as İstar.
Rug making is also widespread in the villages of Fethiye. The Seydiler and Eldirek regions are particularly well known for their rugs.
The villages of Karaçuha, Esenköy and Gökben are famous for their hair-cloth weaving.
The Dastar material made from silk is unique to the villages of Fethiye Üzümlü and İncirköy.In Üzümlü you would see how it is done and from the newly founded cooperation of the village you can buy table cloths, cloths or house goods wowen from Dastar.
Those who go to the villages of Arsa, Bağlıağaç and Dodurga can buy wooden spoons and other tools and chests made from the wood of juniper or cedar trees and turned into works of art in the hands of masters.
In Esenköy there is earthen pottery and Günlükbaşı and Yenimahalle have woven baskets.
The Fethiye Museum
The Fethiye Museum, which should be visited ahead of or after the town tour, displays the finds from the archaeological excavations conducted in Fethiye and ancient cities in its vicinity. The museum has archaeological pieces from the Bronze, Archaic, Hellenistic, and Roman eages and ethnographic pieces from the Menteşe, Ottoman ages and more recent times. The museum is open everyday except Mondays between 08:00 and 17:00.