Fethiye sits on the site of the ancient Lycian city of Telmessos (Land of Light), dating back to the 4th Century BC. Today there is little evidence remaining of the ancient city but the Tomb of Amyntas perched high above the town and carved into the side of the cliff is a fine example of this period. In the 1930s the town changed its name in honour of a local pilot and war hero, Fethi Bey, who died in a plane crash. Prior to this, in Ottoman times, the town was also known as Megri meaning ‘far place’ and there are several acknowledgements of this. The Mosque and Turkish bath still stand proudly despite two severe earthquakes in 1856 and 1957. The rubble to which the town was reduced lies compacted in the present day quay and harbour’s boulevard.
The town was once a grand Lycian city and traces of the ancient settlement can be seen about the town. These include the striking rock tombs on the face of the cliff east of the city and several incongruous, lone sarcophagi such as the one next to the Town Hall. The most magnificent of the rock tombs, is the Amyntas Tomb (that of a Lycian Noble). At the back of the town is a hill occupied by a medieval fortress, believed to have been constructed by the Knights of St John. As recently as 1994 exciting excavations uncovered the ancient amphitheatre in the heart of the town dating back to Roman times. So far, part of the stage building and 1500 seats have been uncovered.
The harbour of Fethiye is a natural, sheltered bay with the island of Sovalye (knights) lying just across the water. Boats run regularly from the harbour of Fethiye to the island. Outside in the larger outer bay lie 11 more islands and they make a wonderful day trip on one of the many boats that leave from the quayside.
Fethiye’s museum, located in 505 Sokak (past the hospital and school) is open Tuesday to Sunday (with an admission fee payable). It has some interesting exhibits such as artefacts from various Lycian sites, a fine collection of pottery dating back to 6th Century BC and Hellenistic terracotta statues and marble busts from the Roman period. The museum is definitely worth a visit.
Today Fethiye is a working town, with a large harbour, its main tourist areas being calls and Hisaronu. These cater for the mass market package tourist. Oludeniz is the much photographed lagoon near to Fethiye, with a lovely long sandy beach.
A boat cruise around Fethiye Bay is highly recommended and better undertaken from Gocek than with the often, crowded daily boats from Fethiye harbour. The 11 islands of the Bay are infamous and consist of the island of Sovalye at the mouth of the inner bay, Gemiler (with the prominent ruins of a Byzantine monastery),
Katranci (offshore from the beach of the same name to the west of Fethiye), and the islands of Tersane (Dockyard), Kizilada (Red), Taysan (Rabbit), Domuz (Pig), Yassicalar, Hacihalil, Delikli (Holey), Seytanli (Devil) and Karacaoren.
Any visit to Fethiye would not be complete without a visit to the fish market where you can select your fish and have it cooked for you at any of the surrounding restaurants.
Being a main town, Fethiye has an abundance of banks, three hospitals and many pharmacies. The Esnaf hospital provides a full medical and GP service.
There are weekly markets every Tuesday and Friday and there are post offices in Fethiye and Hisaronu offering all the usual services.