My family moved in Fethiye in spring of 2013. Until then I considered Fethiye as a place only to visit friends and relatives on some special days and holidays, nothing more than that. However in these 2 years time, I came to understanding that it is actually way more than that.
As a Marmaris lover, it was a bit difficult for me in the beginning getting used to the idea to live here, now and then. I was a bit prejudiced about this new city even without having a general look at it. Fortunately, things changed day by day, slowly but surely.
Fethiye is one of the thirteen counties of Muğla, lies on the southwest of Turkey. It can be reached by both seaway or high-way easily from İzmir, Antalya, Muğla. It is a city that offers many exciting and entertaining things. The weather is quite hot during the summer time and one can find a great number of things to do/to see. Besides it has a large capacity of accommodation for tourists, it also welcomes many tourists from all over the world all year around. Countless beautiful beaches, breathtaking views, many ancient sites, places to camp, a lot of villages that still keep their originality away from the excessive developed modern cities, Fethiye may attract you for your next place to stop by.
Let me start putting everything about Fethiye with King Tombs in the heart of the city.
These tombs in the skirt of a rocky hillside in the centre of the city, are estimated to be built up in Hellenistic Age. In local language they are known as ‘’King Tombs’’. One of the three tombs, which is the most glorious, belongs to Amynthas, the son of Harpasos. This tomb can be seen clearly from the city. I would like to present my humble opinion about the stairs reaching to the main tomb, as a quite good exercise to start the day. You might also enjoy the view of the city when you reach the peak.
In the city center Paspatur is the place where most of the locals and tourists walk around, do their shopping and enjoy their drinks. There are quite nice shops around and it is also nice to pass by through the cooling streets with a shade above them especially in hot season. Just like in many other touristic resorts, majority of the shops are closed in winter season.
Just outside behind Paspatur, a few steps further, lies the ancient Telmessos theater. It lies on a really good spot with the nicest view from the seaside. I can count myself lucky as I know how this ancient theater looked before the current restoring. It looks definitely different these days.
When the weather is sunny during winters, Çalış beach and the harbour in the center are nice places for me to walk and get some fresh air, and I almost always end up sitting at a cafe by the seaside to drink some çay or coffee. I always get the best moments and feelings when I’m in a place just like that, especially if accompanied by my friends, I’m the happiest of the city.
There are also a few nice bars that offer you nice time during your holiday in Paspatur. They are places that play live music once in a week recently, however I’m not sure if that’s also the case in high season. Car Cemetery Bar and Deep Blue Bar are the ones that are highly recommended. Moreover, I would like to tell you about one of my favourite shops in the first street of the bazaar again in Paspatur. It is called Azul and it is a silver and accessory shop, which has the most lovely craft and the owner is so generous all the time, even sharing her coffee with me while we are having conversation. Every time I go to the center, i absolutely pop in her shop for a quick talk.
Just like many other seacoast cities in Turkey, you can find many boats in the harbour that run daily tours. There are some amazing places to see by boat, especially Göcek and 12 islands.
Ölüdeniz also might be a place to enjoy the sun and sea. Known as ‘’Blue Lagoon’’ in English, adventure lovers choose this place to parachute and/or tandem flight. It might be a totally new experience for anyone who tries for the first time in their lives. I have decided to overcome my fear of flying and made this real by flying over Babadağ Mountain on the last day of 2013, making a totem for the coming new year 2014.
On February in this year, i had a friend who came to Fethiye whom i met through couch-surfing. His plan was to visit all the ancient sites in the city and i haven’t ever been to most of them except for two places. It was a great chance for me to accompany with him and i was so grateful that he accepted me in his history thematic trip. I was thinking i will have the greatest opportunity to discover Fethiye deeper and deeper and can say I had an amazing week to go and see all those ancient sites and all the nature surrounded the old civilizations’ cities was simply amazing where i always ended up speechless. I was always so close to all the places and yet I’ve never intended to go and see. Seeing all those beautiful places caused me question myself: where was my mind before?
27 km to the northwest from Fethiye, when you reach the village Yeşil Üzümlü, it took nearly 10 km to reach the site. The view was amazing, the road that goes to the side was a bit narrow and dusty and there were not any cars except than ours. If you would like to reach the site on foot i would highly recommend someone to take enough water with themselves. For walking it might be a bit challenging because it is quite far uphill. However once you get the peak, you will enjoy the view and of course might think that it actually worths it. At the site, remains that can be seen are temple, bath, stadium, agora, gymnasion, theater and some parts of the city wall. There are quite a lot of holes that covered in bush and rain water after countless illegal excavations unfortunately. You might want to take a bit care when you walk around not to find yourself down in a hole, it might be another adventure though to feel the real spirit. Kadyanda has been the last Lycian site that i visited but i would like to mention it at the beginning of my list as it might count as a first place to visit among all the sites because of the close distance and the view of Fethiye from there was quite clear and impressive.
Lying on 8 km south of the city, called Kayaköy in local language, Karmylassos ancient site involves an important place in Turkey’s history. Once, when a treaty was signed between Greece and Ottomans, an exchange was done to bring the people who were living in Greece (Turkish) to Kayaköy and take the people who were living here (Greeks) back to Greece. However, people who were brought to Kayaköy, couldn’t accommodate themselves and preferred to settle down in the valley. Therefore it seems like an abandoned city and in touristic purpose it is referred as ‘’Ghost Town’’. The most interesting information about the site is that almost all 400 houses do not block each other’s sight and light. What i really enjoy being in this ghost town, is to walk among the walls and houses that in ruins and the original inhabitants of the area, which i find them really curious that do not hesitate to show themselves to you with a few seconds and then getting disappeared again in their holes. Blue tailed lizard is my favourite kind and i always do enjoy photographing it if lets me. Following Kayaköy, the same road takes you to Gemiler beach where you can also visit another ancient site that is called St.Nicholas on Gemiler island.
42 km east of Fethiye, on the same road to Saklıkent ( a canyon that also attracts many tourists), taking the road left to Yakaköy when seeing the sign, i have seen this ancient site pretty much within the village life just near the main road. Of all the parts of the site that i photographed, acropolis, city walls, stadium, patio, gymnasion, bath, church and sanctuary ruins, agora, theater ( currently closed because of the safety rules), and tombs , i mostly enjoyed when we were dedicatedly trying to find the grave of Pegasus and its rider Bellerephon. I didn’t even know what i was actually too close to this Myth and my heart started to palpitate that one almost could hear it. It took us a little effort and we looked every detail above the tombs but failed each time and couldn’t help asking the security man in charge for the site. He was so kind to explain us and let us cross the other side (north) warning us to be careful as we could have slipped on the soil. We started to look for from the beginning and eventually it was at the end of all the tombs, as if it was hidden and we had to jump a half meter over a rock to reach the tomb and it was there, on the left side of the entrance, the relief of Pegasus and Bellerephon. All i felt was the sense of success and the joy of witnessing the history.
Arriving in the mistiness, we were so lucky that we were picked up by a kind local when we attempted to hitchhike. Otherwise we were going to have to walk 10 kms until reaching the site because there was only one minibus that passes in the village Dodurga.
It has just started to rain mildly when we started to photograph, fortunately i could thinking of taking umbrellas. After seeing a couple of big sites, Sidyma looked quite small and there were not so many things to see rather than a couple of tombs in good shape and a ruined temple with another building in the open area yet i have enjoyed every moment of being there especially when it started to rain a lot. We also were lucky to meet two hikers who just started their walking on Lycian Way and were looking for some place to camp.
On the way back from Sidyma, we had to walk 6 km as there wasn’t any minibus neither a car but we were lucky that eventually a car appeared and we were given a lift to the main road so that we could catch another minibus to the first junction of Pınara. When we got out of the minibus, we had to walk another 2 km until we were given a lift by a local family yet we had to walk the rest 2kms of the road until we arrived Pınara ancient site. Pınara was a really breathtaking site with its look and isolated location. While we were walking from the below to the top, the tombs that are in/on the mountain that looked like pigeonholes from far, welcomed us with its magnificence. Theatre was lying at the bottom of the city and the ground was over flooded by the rain and a group of goats were feeding themselves with the freshest greens. The odeon, bath, temple, agora, bull-headed tomb, rock tombs in acropol and southern necropol were all the top of the site. As we were continuing our trip each day, we were having more and more beautiful views and i could feel that my legs were getting beefier after walking long distances and climbing high in the hills that i thought i could be ready for the Olympics at the end of the trip. Again, then, on the way back from Pınara, it was already dark and we had to walk 6kms and the minibus wasn’t going to come and we reached the city by a lucky ride.
After a long,exhausting Sidyma and Pınara day, I could assume this day as easier, relaxing new day. There are minibuses all day long to both sites so we were lucky that we didn’t have to worry about transportation.
Letoon was more like a place for a religious ritual of the Lycians who lived in Xanthos valley. There are three temples in line beginning with Apollon Temple, Artemis Temples in the middle which is smaller and Leto Temple which is the biggest. In Apollon Temple, on the ground, you can see the mosaic of the temple however it is the copy of the original one which is in Fethiye Archeology Museum. I would like the mention that Letoon is in Unesco’s World Heritage List just like Xanthos.
Walking in rush, trying to catch Xanthos before the coming rain, we were so lucky that were picked up by a kind man who offered us a lift, saying that he didn’t want us to get wet because of the coming rain. By the time we reached the site, we could finished seeing the theater and the acropol before the heavy rain. I have also found out that Nereids Monument in the entrance of the city, whose only a few ruins left, is on display in British Museum, were taken to London by ships by separating into pieces in 1840.
After we gave a coffee break under a pergola during the heavy rain, i saw the book called ‘’On the Lycian Way’’ in Turkish press at the tiny shop and i just bought it there with a great smile on my face, i couldn’t be happier than that. From now on, i have a more detailed source under my hands so that whenever i feel like to go some near ancient site, all i have to do is just to decide which place it should be.
Took the first bus at 7:00 in the morning, i didn’t have any clue about how many hours to spend on the site. Even it took me a whole day, i didn’t have any complains about even the single moment of it. Patara was a huge harbour city that you even might want to see around with a car. However we only had our feet to take us all around the area.
Leaving a few ruins and temples behind us, an Arch of Triumph was standing in the entrance of the city. It was like they carried the arch of triumph of Paris into this meadow without anyone’s notice.
After discovering the left side of the city we went to the Patara beach and gave a break to rest some to continue our discovery. It was a lovely time to be at a beach in the middle of the winter and the weather was just perfect, i could even lie on the sand while i was eating my apple. At a moment’s notice i felt i miss the summer to start swimming.
By the time we finished the theater and restored odeon, we hit the return path.
The day before going to Patara, we visited the Archeology Museum of Fethiye. It seemed essential to intensify after seeing all those sites and history and all the informations going on in my mind, I felt like I completed a holy mission like pilgrim’s journey.
This whole visit to Lycia Ancient Sites made me love Fethiye more and more and i have totally had the idea of the ancient people’s life-styles, and their sense of art, aesthetics, their love of the nature and respect to it… They have earned my respect even after centuries later. I hope I’m not misunderstood if i say that i flatter myself now that i live in the same place where those beloved people lived eonian.