Fethiye is located on the Lycian and Carian border and was called
Telmessos in ancient times. The city was very prominent and a centre
of prophecy, pledged to Apollon. The city life was rich and highly cultured during the Hellenistic and Roman periods which is evident from the monuments that exist today. Today the majority of ancient ruins in
Telmessos are rock-tombs, Lycian-type sarcophagi, the fortress and
the Roman Theatre. The peninsula lying between Fethiye and Antalya
was known as Lycia in the ancient times. Lycians were natives of Anatolia and sea-faring people as mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and the Kadesh War Peace Agreement.
The tomb of Amyntas, which could be considered as the insignia of Fethiye, strikes the eye with its grandeur on the slope as you enter the bay. This tomb, whose façade was built as an Ionic temple based on the plan of in antis, belonged to Amyntas is believed to be a king or a governor of Telmessos during the Hellenistic period. Within the city there are quite a number of Lycian-type sarcophagi. On these there are epitaphs in the Lycian scripture. The sarcophagus near the government house is especially worthy of notice, with reliefs depicting warriors.
The fortress stands where the city was first founded and the existing walls are from the 11th Century. Portions of the walls from the Roman period can be seen. The fortress was repaired by the Rhodesian Knights during the 15th Century and was used as a naval base. Telmessos Ancient Theatre stands opposite the commercial quay at Fethiye town centre. A typical Roman style theatre was built in 2nd Century on the remains of a previous Greek theatre. The site was excavated by the Fethiye Archaeology Museum in 1993 and a restoration project renovated the theatre’s cavea and stage. Fethiye Archaeology Museum exhibits numerous Archaeological findings from the Lycian, Hellenistic, Roman and Ottoman periods as well as ethnological works of art typical of the region.
The Teke Peninsula lying between Fethiye and Antalya was known as LYCIA (pronounced LIKIA) in ancient times. In fact the Lycians participated in the Kadesh War together with the Hittites, which indicates that they were one of the oldest tribes of Anatolia. All through its history, Lycia was invaded by the Persians, Alexander the Great, Romans and Byzantines but was never evacuated. Fethiye is an ideal location for excursions into Lycia. Either on your own or by organised daily tours, you can visit major Lycian cities in the region.
Fethiye has always been a major area of settlement throughout its history. This is due to the fact that the region is abundant in all aspects of subsistence. It bears the stamp of all the people living here throughout various periods. The region was known as ''Telmessos" during the Lycian times until the Roman Empire when it was then referred to as "Makri" (Megri) meaning far-off land. In 1282 Mentese Beg, the founder of the Mentese Principality, fought with the Byzanthians and conquered Makri. Although in the official documents Makri (Megri) was still in use, the popular name among the residents was "Iskete" or "Beskaza". The name Iskele was derived from the use of this town by the Ottoman Empire for sailing out to Rhodes and the outside world. Similarly, the name Beskaza was in frequent use during the Ottoman times. As the central government had a hard time to dealing with local matters, five regional administrations were established. Under the auspices of the central administration, the five kadhis (local governors) of Uzumlu, Yaka-Doger, Yakabag-Esen, Oren and Kaya were appointed. The name Beskaza was very popular and there are several folk dances and songs bearing this name..
In the year 1914, a new name appears. The Megri Municipal Council proposed changing the name of "Megri" to commemorate Fethi Bey, the first Turkish pilot who was killed in a crash near Taberiye. This proposal was approved by the Council and Mayor of the time, Musaoğlu Mehmet Cen, and the name "Fethiye" was used in all documentation from that point on. However, due to the First World War and the subsequent Independence War, the Council of Ministers approval could only be officially obtained in1934.