Fethiye symbolizes the incredible harmony of the blue and green at the point where the Taurus Mountains merge into the sea. With a history dating back to the 5 th century B.C., it was called Telmessos in the Antique Period.
Throughout the many years of its existence, the city of Fethiye underwent the rulings and influence of several different groups of people and empires. This shows in the spectacular ancient ruins found throughout the city and nearby islands. Fethiye maintains its small, antiquated charm while embracing and growing with modernity.
1. The Foundation
Fethiye has always been a place of convergence. When it was, presumably, founded in the 5th century BC, it sat directly between the two ancient civilizations of the Lycian and Carian people. Its harbour sees the meeting of the Mediterranean and Aegean sea and today, the city shows a mixture of ancient ruins and modern architecture.
Fethiye was founded under the name Telmessos in the 5th century BC. The name comes from the legend of Apollo who fell in love with a young and shy woman named Agenor, the daughter of the King of the Phoenicia. According to the legend, Apollo transformed himself into a puppy to win the love and trust of the reserved princess. Once their bond formed, he transformed back into Apollo and they had a sun named Telmessos, meaning “land of lights”.
Some ruins still exist from this Hellenistic time period like the outdoor amphitheatre that sits just by the Fethiye harbour or the tomb of Amynta, carved into the high cliffsides overlooking the city.
2. The Persian Empire
In 547 BC, General Harpagos overtook the city of Telmessos, thus making it a part of the Persian Empire. Prior to this invasion, the city belonged to a league called the Attic-Delos Union, with which they maintain relations until the 4th century BC.
3. The Byzantine Empire
Some remaining buildings boast of prosperity during this time period. However, many were also abandoned during the Arab-Byzantine Wars during the 7th and 8th centuries AD. The city’s name changed throughout this time from Telmissos or Anastasioupolis in the 8th century. Then, in the 10th century, when the Greeks took over this area, its name change to Makre/Makri, meaning remote or far-off land due to its remote location, tucked away behind the bay and many islands. During this time, there is evidence that points to it being a great commercial centre. In the late 12th or early 13th century, the city fell to the power of the Turks.
4. Ottoman Empire
In the 1428, the town became a part of the Ottoman Empire. Many ruins from this era still stand, including several towns still built in that fashion. One such town that remains stagnant in the Ottoman era is the ghost town of Kayaköy, which was swiftly abandoned in the 1920’s Greek/Turk population swap.
In 1934, the town’s name was changed to Fethiye, named after the town’s first Ottoman Air Force Pilot Yüzbaşi Fethi Bey, who was killed in 1914.
Today, Fethiye continues to be a place of convergence, remembering its rich past and traditions while embracing the movement of the modern world.