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Fethiye is a lively market town of about 60,000 inhabitants that also has developed as one of the most important tourist destinations and holiday resorts on the Turquoise CoastFethiye - Turkey. Fethiye is also the center for excursions in Western Lycia. Moreover, Ölüdeniz, a place of outstanding beauty with a dazzling beach, azure sea and sheltered blue lagoon is close to Fethiye. The beach at Ölüdeniz ranks among the best beaches in the world.

For us, Fethiye was a basis for the 12 Island Cruise, a boat trip by gulet around Fethiye Bay, and for visits to the archeological sites of Tlos, Kadyanda, and the ghost town Kayaköy.

Historically, Fethiye is built upon the ruins of the ancient city of Telmessos and possesses, as remnants of its past, some impressive rock tombs and a recently excavated Hellenistic theater. However, the majority of the ruins remain still buried under the quaint town.

The town got its original name from Telmessos, the son of the god Apollo. Little is known about the early years of Telmessos, except that originally it wasn't part of the Lycian Federation. Actually, in the 4th century BC, the Lycians fought against the Telmessians and finally subdued Telmessos and brought it into the Lycian federation. Later Telmessos was captured by Alexander the Great, became part of the kingdom of Pergamum, and during the Roman imperial era, the city was part of the Lycian Federation.

Telmessos continued its existence into the Byzantine era but gradually lost its significance due to the Arab raids. In the 8th century, the city's name was changed to Anastasiopolis in honor of a Byzantine emperor and the following century it changed again to Makri meaning Far (City). Under Ottoman rule this was changed to Megri and finally, after the expulsion of the predominantly Greek population in the 1930's, it was named Fethiye after Tayyareci Fethi Bey, a local who was among Turkey's first pilots and was also a war hero.

Fethiye suffered two immense earthquakes in 1857 and 1957 which toppled much of the town and completely destroyed the medieval town and the remains of antiquity. Throughout Fethiye, there are the scattered typical Lycian stone sarcophagi dating from around 450 BC. At the main quay at Liman Caddesi, there is the theater that was excavated only since 1994. It had a capacity of 5,000 people and was built in the Early Roman period and renovated in the 2nd century AD.

Fethiye's most prominent monument is definitely the Amyntas tomb, thus called after the Greek inscription Amyntou tou Ermagiou (Armyntas son of Hermagios) carved on the wall of the tomb. This rock-cut tomb, an Ionic temple façade carved in the sheer rock face, stands out among similar temple tombs for its size. Whereas most such tombs are scarcely bigger than the height of an ordinary room (i.e. less than 2 meters internal, and less than 3 meters external), this tomb has the height of a full-size temple.

A more contemporary monument can be seen on the waterfront, near Fethiye's marina where a huge stele or obelisk acts as a memorial to servicemen that died in recent conflicts.

We visited Fethiye in 2005, 2010, and 2014 while touring Lycia and stayed each time in the comfortable Hotel Villa Daffodil (Fevzi Çakmak Cad. No: 115, 48300 Fethiye, Tel: +90 252 6149595). The hotel serves an excellent cuisine, has a very friendly and helpful staff and is located at a 20-30 min. walk out of the center of town. 


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