The Turkish city of Fethiye

Below Fethiye begins that part of the Turkish coast which in ancient times was called Lycia. The Lycians (or Termites, as they called themselves) entered the area around 1200 B.C., probably during a war with the “Sea Peoples. After 546 B.C. they were conquered by the Persians, and in the fifth century they joined the Greeks. They formed the so-called Union of Lycian Cities, they achieved a certain independence and kept it (168 B.C. – 43), until the whole region became a Roman province.

The cultural heritage of the Lycian people has survived on its former territory between Dalman and Antalya in the form of tombstones: among them are temple-like tombs carved into the rock and sarcophagi mounted vertically on pedestals. As for the landscape, Likia is considered the most beautiful part of the Turkish coast. Picturesquely curved bays, behind them the peaks of mountains covered with snow until early summer (the highest of them, Ak Daglar, reaches a height of 3024 meters), pristine river valleys (such as Saklikent) and dense forests (near Olympos) create landscapes of indescribable beauty.

Fethiye by Oldypak lp Smirnov photo

A brief description of Fethiye

Fethiye is the largest city of Lycia with about 50 thousand inhabitants. It is the former ancient city of Telmessos. No matter who ruled it – and in addition to those already mentioned it was under the Byzantines, Arabs, Johannites and Ottomans – this little harbour town was never destined to become a major city. After a major earthquake in 1958, it was rebuilt virtually from scratch.

Today it is a very pleasant place and the undoubted tourist capital of the entire Lycian coast, thanks to the charming bay and the nearby fabulous beach at Oludeniz. The old city is located in the southern part of Fethiye. Next to the port, on a mountainside, you can see the neglected remains of the Roman theater of Telmessos (II-III century), where 28 rows could accommodate 6,000 spectators. The ancient fortress of the Ioannites, built in the 14th century, rises above the adjacent small market quarter on the hill.

To the east of the fortress on a steep escarpment can be seen numerous tombs of the Lycian rock necropolis of Telmessos, imitating the traditional wooden architecture of antiquity. The most famous among them is the Ionic-style tomb of Amintas (4th century BC). From here – as well as from the mountain road that passes by the fortress – you have a beautiful view of the bay. The small Fethiye Museum, in the center of Fethiye, has an Ethnography Department, in addition to the finds from Telmessos, Tlos and Leton, found in the neighborhood.

The main decoration of its exposition is the wooden door of the 19th century with beautifully carved arabesques. The most typical historical curiosity of the city can be noticed by a stranger rather accidentally, and only after frequent walks. These are Lycian sarcophagi, set in parks and in busy streets and usually decorated with reliefs. You can swim in the sea and sunbathe near Fethiye on the 3 kilometers of sandy beach of Çalış, a suburb and tourist center located 4 kilometers away.

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