Where does the name “Fethiye” come from?
For answering this question, first of all, we must look into the history of the borough: Fethiye, in terms of history, was heavily influenced by the rulers of peoples who lived in the surrounding areas; that means, Fethiye was invaded and governed by the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Seljuks, the Venetians, and the Mentese Emirate out of the Anatolian Emirates. And Fethiye, at last, participate in the Ottoman Empire. In ancient time, the Lycians which means the “People of the Land of Lights” possessed this city; and then the city was named as Telmessos. Telmessos (Fethiye) entered dominance of the Persians in 545 BC (6th century), and was captured by Alexander the Great in 333 BC (4th century). After the death of Alexander the Great, although Telmessos remained under the dominance of Ptalomus, the King of Egypt, for a while, then the city was invaded by the Roman Empire, and in this period the name of the city was converted into Makri that means the “Far Realm”. After the disintegration of the Roman Empire into two Fethiye (Makri) remained within the borders of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. Mentese Bey, one of the founders of the Mentese Emirate captured Makri from the Byzantines in the year 1282. And in the year 1424 the city included in the lands of the Ottoman Empire. Makri which was called “Beş Kaza” (Five Boroughs) among the people in the Ottoman period was converted into a city which acted under the Mentese Brigade in the year 1874.
At the time when the lands of the Ottoman Empire were shared after the First World War, despite Greek General Venizelos wanted Fethiye to be given to Greece due to the fact that many people of Geek origin was living in the region, the Italians firstly invaded Antalya and in vicinity areas thereof , where were remained to them, and then invaded Fethiye on 11th May 1920. However, after the heroicical struggle of our soldies to save our country, the Italian troops had to leave Fethiye on 21st June 1920.
The most tragic event which was experienced in Fethiye where very big fights did not occured during the Turkish War of Independence was the migration of the population of Greek origin who lived in Fethiye and Levissi (Kayaköy) to Geece after the exchange of population which was made in the year 1923.
The name of the city that was connected to Muğla Province together with the establishment of the Republic of Turkey was changed as “Fethiye” in memory of Captain Pilot Fethi Bey, the first Turkish Air Force Martyr as a result of the decision taken in 1934.
Translated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Turhan Kani Üçgün