A Brief History of Fethiye

Fethiye Fountains

Fethiye is a city in the Muğla Province, in the Aegean region of Turkey, and is one of Turkey’s most popular tourist areas.

Fethiye FountainsModern-day Fethiye is located on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos, the ruins of which can still be found around the city.

A Lycian legend tells that the origin of the name Telmessos is from the Greek God Apollo, who fell in love with the youngest daughter of the King of Phoenicia. Disguising himself as a small dog, he earns the love of the shy daughter. He then returns as a handsome man and they have a son together, who they name ‘Telmessos’ (meaning the land of lights).

The city was part of the Persian Empire in 547 BC and saw many rulers and wars before eventually falling to the Turks in the late 12th or early 13th century. It became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1424.

The town grew significantly in the 19th century and had a large Greek population.  However, the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923 saw the Greeks inhabitants sent back to Greece, and the town was resettled by Turks from Greece. At the nearby village of Kayakoy, formerly Levissi, the abandoned Greek Orthodox Church and town are still standing.

In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk renamed the then called village Meğri to ‘Fethiye’ in honor of Fethi Bey, one of the first pilots of the Ottoman Air Force. The Şehit Fethi Bey İlköğretim Okulu Elementary School was named after him and in the second half of the 20th century a memorial statue was also erected, which was recently moved to the newly built Şehit Fethi Bey Park.


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