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FETHİYE

Heart of the Turquoise Coast                                 Population: 75,000 

Fethiye1Old name: Telmessos (Lycian), Anastasiopolis (Roman), Makri (Greek), Meğri (Turkish)

Market day: Tuesday and Friday (fruit and veg only)

With its magnificent mountainous backdrop, this small Mediterranean coastal town makes a great base for exploring the surrounding area. It also has a long history of its own kicking off with the years when it flourished as the ancient Lycian city of Telmessos.

Stir in a vista of offshore islands, a lively bazaar, and a nightlife more varied than that on offer in the nearby resorts, and it’s surprising that Fethiye doesn’t top more people’s lists of favourite places to stay.

Its modern name commemorates Fethi Bey, a local pilot who had served in the Ottoman army during the Balkan Wars. He became the first Turkish airman to die in the First World War when his plane came down over Syria in 1914. His statue now graces the waterside promenade.FetstatStatue of Fethi Bey

So effectively did earthquakes demolish old Meğri that there’s little left to show for the long medieval and Ottoman centuries bar a few attractive houses on the edge of the sprawling bazaar where a creaky-old hamam also welcomes visitors.

In 2013 the town centre was given a makeover which cheered up the promenade cafes and provided a new square (bizarrely named Beşkaza Meydanı which to non-native Turkish speakers would appear to mean "five accidents square" but actually turns out to mean "five boroughs square"!), plenty of topiary and several fountains.

 Around town

AmyntasAmyntas tombFethiye’s most famous ancient monument is the tomb of Amyntas cut into the soaring cliff-face behind the town. Like the even more frequently photographed burial places overlooking the river in Dalyan, this tomb was designed to look like a miniature temple complete with Ionic support columns.

Amyntas’ is the most conspicuous of a group of tombs, so it’s rather strange that nothing other than his name is known about the man who was buried inside it. For centuries his tomb slumbered in anonymity. Then in the 19th century the French archaeologist and explorer Charles Texier passed this way, scrawling his name on the walls like the vandals who came after him. 

The second most conspicuous reminder of the town’s long history is the ancient theatre in the town centre, which dates back to the second century BC. At the moment it’s overlooked by some of the few Ottoman houses to have survived the major earthquakes of 1857 and 1957 that levelled old Fethiye. In May 2013 work on restoring the theatre meant that it was closed to the public.

Finally you can climb uphill to the Knight’s Castle, product of the 15th-century Knights of St John, who constructed their fort here over the relics of a much older castle. Inevitably, their work was in turn improved upon by the Ottomans.

Today the ruins offer a great vantage point from which to survey the town and the jewel-like offshore islands glistening in the turquoise sea. The best views of the castle can be had from the boats that cruise the surrounding islands.empstat

Fethiye's small archaeological museum (closed Mondays) has been renovated to show off a collection of finds from nearby sites such as Tlos, Pınara, Kaunos and the Letoon.

Amongst the more impressive exhibits are four huge statues of Roman emperors including Hadrian and his successor Antoninus Pius that were only unearthed from the theatre at Tlos in 2011. The museum is just off the main road behind the school.

Boat trips

As you stroll along Fethiye’s newly improved promenade you will pass endless graceful wooden gülets (yachts) waiting to take visitors on day trips to the nearby “12 Islands”. Most offer the perfect excuse to relax, unwind and go swimming but little in the way of sightseeing. Boats vary in quality and price. The large double-decker boats tend to be the noisiest. 

Other boats offer Sunday trips to Göcek market, or visits to Ölüdeniz and Butterfly Valley.

Those with more time to spare can sign up for three or four-day Blue Cruises either west to Marmaris via Göcek and Dalyan, or east to Olympos via GemilerKalkan and Kaş. The cheaper cruises come in for quite a lot of criticism, but if you splash out a bit more you are virtually guaranteed a few days of perfect relaxation as you float over idyllic azure seas and drop anchor in exquisitely beautiful rocky coves with plenty of time for swimming, snorkeling, fishing and just plain snoozing the day away.

caroleEating

The waterfront is lined with an array of pavement cafes offering a mix of Turkish and international food. They're great places to enjoy a sundowner over a view of the gülets and the bay. 

The bazaar area is home to a lively fish market that has built up a great trade in selling fish to individual customers who then adjourn to their particular choice of the surrounding cafes to have it cooked for them and served with whatever extras are required. It's a fun if not nceessarily particularly cheap experience.

Sleeping

 

Club & Hotel Letoonia. Tel: 0252-614 4966

Ece Saray Marina & Resort. Tel: 0252-612 5005

Hillside Beach Club. Tel: 0252-214 8360

Hobby Hotel. Tel: 0252-612 3639

Hotel Doruk

Orka Boutique Hotel. Reincarnation of old Hotel Kemal in great central location right by harbour. Tel: 0252-614 5009

Sundial Otel

Villa Daffodil. Tel: 0252-614 9595, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Fevzi Çakmak Caddesi No. 115 2.Karagözler 

lyciasarFethiye is dotted with Lycian sarcophagi like this one with tiny soldiers carved into itTransport info

The nearest airport is 45km away at Dalaman International (ATM). 

There are no airport transfer buses and from time to time there have been problems about people collecting friends from the airport.

The otogar is in the western suburbs but linked to the town centre by frequent minibus.

Regular buses along the Mediterranean coast link Fethiye with Göcek and Dalyan to the west and Patara, Kalkan, Kaş and Antalya to the east, although many of the services are in uncomfortable midibuses – book on a full-sized bus for the longer hauls.

Dolmuşes to local destinations such as Ölüdeniz and Kayaköy leave from a terminal beside the OPet garage in the town centre. You can also pick them up closer to the post office and bazaar although sometimes they arrive at the stop full. 

Regular water taxis from the promenade serve the suburb of Çalış. Far less frequent ones serve Şovaliye Island, the only one of the offshore islands that has houses and hotels.

Day trip destinations

Dalyan

Gemiler

Göcek

Kadyanda

Kayaköy

Letoon

Ölüdeniz

Pınara

Rhodes

Saklıkent Gorge

Sidyma

Tlos

Üzümlü

Xanthos

Read more about Fethiye: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-153059-queen-of-the-turquoise-coast-fethiye.html 

Read about boat trips from Fethiyehttp://www.todayszaman.com/news-317118-messing-about-on-the-water-fethiye-by-boat.html

Read about what's around Fethiye: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-247803-out-and-about-in-fethiye.html

Read about Blue Cruises: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/europe/a-voyage-into-the-big-blue-500676.html

Read about Blue Cruises: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-210295-rhapsody-in-blue-cruising-the-turkish-coastline.html 

carriageCurious choice of topiary on the waterfront

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