This article was written by Sam Özer exclusively for Fethiye Times.
Sam is a copywriter and blogger from the UK that has been a local resident for more than 12 years. Do take a look at Sam’s blog, www.growinguptwo.com, for a quirky take on family travel and life here in Fethiye.
Fabulous views from Fethiye’s Fortress
Fethiye is one of those places that you fall for at first sight.
The entire town offers so much to see and do that it’s easy to overlook the history in favour of the modern. It’s easy to miss the ancient footprints under the neon glare of modern shop fronts, fancy seafront eateries and olde-worlde trinket stores.
But Fethiye is steeped in a vast and interesting past. It is located on the Lycian and Carian border and was called Telmessos (Land of Lights) in ancient times. It has been fought over for centuries; the Lycians, Byzantines, Romans and Turks all leaving their footprint on the town. But today, many walk past the sarcophagi next to the central government building without giving it a second thought. If you stopped to look you would notice the epitaphs in Lycian scripture and the faint relieves of warriors.
Next time you are in Fethiye, escape the shade on your stroll through town or, on returning to the bay from your boat trip, glance up. Notice the Lycian rock tombs on the cliffside to the rear of the town, Fethiye’s signature landmark. The iconic tomb of Amyntas with its grand columns and facade was dedicated to a king during the Hellenistic period. Notice the big Turkish flag at the summit of the ruined fortress. All too often visitors overlook Fethiye’s past and drive past these impressive cultural sites without stopping to consider them for a moment.
Last weekend, my hubby and I decided to take our young boys for a wander and indulge in a bit of exploration. We headed off into on a mission to know more about the ruins of Fethiye’s Fortress and see if it’s worth the scramble up to the flag.
A spot of history
On the hillside high above Fethiye, at the start of the winding road to the former Greek village of Kayaköy, lies Fethiye Fortress. A colossal Turkish flag, perched at its summit dominates the skyline from afar and is the main reason eyes are drawn to its crumbling existence.
The fortress once played an important role in the area and stands where the ancient city was founded. The origins of the ruins are thought to date back to the 11th Century, with some of the walls Roman. During the 15th Century, the site was rebuilt and used as a naval base by the Knights of St. John, the Crusaders who built on the original structure.
Is the castle worth the trek up to see?
Unfortunately, the fortress is in pretty bad shape, the best view of the remains appreciated from afar. The reason you would head up to the flag would be for the views, they are stunning. Just a short way up you are confronted with a full panoramic of the bay. I can imagine early morning, or at sunset, the view would be spectacular.
There is no booth or official entrance so no fee to be paid. The scramble up from the waste ground to the side of the flag is relatively easy, all of us made it up within a few minutes (and that’s having spent a few minutes herding away curious mountain goats en-route)
I would certainly suggest visiting the site if you have a car, fancy taking some excellent photos of the bay, or if you are walking in the area visiting the nearby rock tombs.
How to get to the castle
If you have a car, it’s easy to head up towards the Fethiye to Kayaköy road (Kaya Caddesi) and pull in on the waste ground just under the flag.
By foot from Fethiye, head along Carşı Caddesi, the one-way street heading back out of the town and take the small lane (Kaya Caddesi) signposted towards Kayaköy, on the right. This takes you through the old town and towards the Lycian Rock Tombs. This part of town is fascinating in its own right and gives you a true taste of village life. There’s a tomb in the centre of the road, a few little mini-markets and a good coffee shop at the foot of the hill. Head right along Kaya Caddesi up the hill and past some smaller rock tombs cut into the hillside. You will see the road forks with the castle on the right, the old road to Kayaköy veering off to the left. The fortress can be accessed from the waste ground here.
Tip. If you do head up to the fortress and want to soak in a few more stunning views, head back a different route along what is known locally as ‘lovers lane’. At the junction near that waste ground, where the road veers to the left towards Kayaköy, head right along Abdi Ipekci Caddesi, the high road that runs along the top of the town overlooking the bay and marina. There are a number of seated areas and vantage points with the whole road offering wonderful views over the bay, Şövalye Island and the amphitheatre. The road ends in Karagözler, where you can walk down the steep hill and reach Ece Saray Marina. You can easily walk back into the centre of town from here.
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