To understand the rock tombs in Fethiye, you need to understand the region. Lycia is the geographical region which incorporates, Mugla and Antalya provinces, and quite frankly has been invaded by practically every well known conqueror in Mediterranean history; squabbled over by the Persians and Athens, invaded by Alexander the Great, fell to Rome (under various emperors), annexed to the Byzantine Empire, then the Ottoman Empire and finally, inherited by today’s Turkish Republic. Frankly its a little mixture of everything…
Fethiye is the one of the largest conurbations of Turkey’s South east region. As Telmessos, Fethiye was one of the largest cities in ancient Lycia and one of the oldest Anatolian civilisations. Legend has it that the god Apollo, born down the road at Letoon, took a shining to the local king’s daughter and turned himself into a dog to win the shy princess’ affections. They named their son Telmessos. Renamed in 1939, Fethiye is named after Fethi Bey, one of the first Ottoman air force pilots who died tragically on an early mission. Now, Fethiye is the paramour of many British holidaymakers and the odd ‘Fish n’ Chip’ joint has cropped up, but peel back this thin level of British veneer and Fethiye’s history creeps through the cracks.
The rock tombs in Fethiye are almost a trademark! You open any guide book and the Amyntas King Tomb is carved into the sheer rock face around 350BC, in honour of Amyntas son of Hermapias. Climbing the stairs to the summit is worth the view of the city vista and being able sit on the almighty steps of the Ionic Temple tomb you really appreciate the majesty and importance Hermapias’ son – the rock tombs in Fethiye have been compared to Petra, although Amyntas is now adorned with local graffiti.
The museum is also worth checking out, and in August is welcomingly air conditioned, and shaking off the more tourist side, the bazaar allows you to pick your own fresh fish and have it cooked to your satisfaction. Personally, I satisfied my hunger with the freshly boiled and richly salted corn on the cob, available at you re local ‘Sut Misir’ stand at a bargain 1TL.
Get the Knack
Avoid climbing the stairs to Amyntas Tomb and other rock tombs in Fethiye in the middle of the day, the full sun shines on face and it’s prime sun burn time.
Do stop at the little cafe just before the entrance for a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a chance to see their pet tortoise.