…A Look At Fethiye’s Past…
Over the last few weeks, my family and I have been going on trips to incredible historic sites such as Kaunos, Xanthos and Sidyma, but I have yet to write about Fethiyes history and ancient sites, so I decided that you could actually see all of these fascinating sites on a walk around the town.
Fethiye has a lot of history, dating back much further before Christ. Its been influenced by everyone, from the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Lycians, Ottomans, Italians and its had a name change everytime. Starting off as Telmessos, when it appeared in the 5th century BC, and then becoming Makri, in 1284 under the conquest of the principality of Menteseogullari, and finally being named Fethiye in 1934, in honour of Feti Bey, who was the Ottoman Air Forces first ever combat pilot.
The start point of the walk is next to the 2nd Century BC Amphitheatre. This site is a frequently visited attraction in Fethiye, even though is currently undergoing a complete restoration. The site was once a massive theatre that was capable of accommodating up to 6,000 people, and many of the ancient structures of Roman columns and marble statues are now in the Fethiye Museum-(More about that later on).
Facing towards the tourist information office, there is a sarcophagus next to a set of steps. Photo opportunity of the ancient tomb, then look up to the top of the cliff above…a pink, Greek/Italian styled building, confirms that the old town had many influences, from the Greek who came over from the Greek islands that were part of the Ottoman Empire. Buildings style could be compared to those that are located in the Greek islands of Halki, Symi and Kastorlerizo.
Go up the steps until you meet the street running above the amphitheatre,
it’s quite a climb, but keep heading upwards, through the houses, until you meet the last flight of steps leading up to the viewing areas….You can take a break here.
Once at the top, you follow the road, keeping the incredible view of Fethiye to your LEFT.
Continue along this road until you get to the junction for Kayakoy. I do recommend that if you need a drink from the climb and the walk along the road, then there’s a lovely mangal restaurant, which is very reasonable and has some beautiful views, a perfect place for catching your breathe.
Turn left, going down the hill on the road called Kaya Caddesi, so you’ve got the castle to your left. If you have time, you can have a walk around the ruined castle grounds.
This castle has a prominent and strategic location with a full 360 degree view of Fethiye and the surrounding terrain. Some parts of the castle are believed to have been built by the Venetians or Crusaders, other parts in much earlier times. However, it really came into its own when crusaders, known as The Knights of St. John (also known as the Knights Hospitaller), created strong and formidable towers and ramparts. The Knights of Saint John also built the massive castle in Bodrum.
Continuing downwards, turn right onto 129 Sokak, the street next to the Lycian Start Point Sign. Follow this road onto 135 Sokak. Continue to the top, almost opposite the Kings Garden Resturant, and you’ll see the great rock cut tombs of Fethiye.
Known as the Amyntas Rock Tombs, these prominent tombs overlook Fethiye and its large lake like bay.
The story behind these rock cut tombs, is that the Lycians believed their dead were carried to the afterlife by Angels, and it was made mandatory for their honoured and cherished Lycian heroes to be put dead in high places such as cliffaces and hillsides. These rock cut temples date back to the 4th century BC, and on particular ones, the front are adorned with tall Romanesque columns, duller from centuries of weathering, yet still worth the visit. If you look on the inside of the largest tomb, and the furthest left hand side pillar-(as if your facing it, with your back to Fethiye)-, there are even some ancient engravings!
Leaving the site, which only costs a small 5 lira per person, -(Unless you have a museum card)-turn right and head along 117 Sokak, onto Kaya Caddesi. If you look to you left, you will see the three ancient scargophigi. One is located in the middle of the road, whilst two others are in a small fenced in green area. Stay on this road until you reach Atatürk Caddesi, where you turn left. Follow the road, until you get to Tas Firin, and turn right down 505 Sokak, which is between two schools. This takes you to the Fethiye Museum.
Here, you get to see some of the artefacts, columns, statues, pots and the history behind Lycias great era, and many places such as Pinara, Sidyma, Letoon, Gemiler Island and Oeneonda, as well as ancient things from Fethiye, which was known in ancient times as Telmessos.
Back outside, turn right and head for Fethiyes seafront promenade. Follow 505 Sokak and then turn left at 510 Sokak. Here, cross the road and walk on the seafront. If you like, there are several nice little cafes which you can stop at for some lunch.
As you continue to stroll along, a large column like monument protrudes into the sky. This monument is a rememinder to the horrific Gallipoli campaign during the First World War.
Just to the left of the memorial, theres a statue of Ataturk, in a large flat square, directly infront of the blue culture centre.
Continueing along the sea front, follow it around until you get to a right/left hand turn. Go straight ahead, so you’ve got the blue culture centre to you left, and then go over to the right, where a massive scargophigus stands next to the Government office and taxi rank. This Goliath sized tomb has reliefs of men fighting and ladies sitting down on all sides, and the shape of it is meant to be based on the design of a wooden hut, with the bits sticking out of each side representing wooden beams.
The last part of the walk is going along Fethiye high street back to the ancient amphitheatre, passing the Feti Bey statue (read about it here), and another two statues of Ataturk. One of him on horse back, and the other of his head on the roundabout.
The walk ends here…
I hope you enjoyed it, and learnt a lot about Fethiyes fascinating and incredible history…
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Leave a comment if you know of any other incredible ancient sites which i can write about.