Visiting Fethiye Turkey: Temple tombs and more
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Ever since I saw pictures of them in the National Geographic years before, I've dreamed of visiting the Lycian tombs at Fethye, Turkey. But can I reach them? I'm already exhausted from the 40C heat and the long slope I've walked up from the town.
These pillar tombs, carved in the rock face resemble small "houses" and were modeled on the wooden houses of the Lycians. Important dynasts were laid to rest here. The Lycians who once inhabited this area were peaceful folk who founded the Lycian Federation, the first known democratic union.
I catch my breath and take a step up. I'd waited years for this moment. So I haul myself up the precarious two hundred steps until I am standing in front of the most predominant of these marvels, the Tomb of Amyntas, which dates to the 4th century B.C. The tomb chamber is empty and very small, but the magnificent view across the tiled rooftops of the village and town of Fethye to the sparkling turquoise sea makea the long trek up worth the effort.
Below is the beautiful little town of Fethiye beside a sparkling bay strewn with islands. The town is built up the hillside, The ruins of a crusader's castle once occupied by the Knights of Rhodes crowns the hill. The rock tombs dominate the town, There are many sarcophagi in the town itself.
After accomplishing the long-awaited hike up to the tombs, my companion and I spent the day at Belceky Beach located on a bay surrounded by pine-forested mountains. The sea here is absolutely gorgeous, clear turquoise and very warm . The nearby village of "Oludeniz" is located on a lagoon of the same name that means "Dead" or "Calm Sea". But the sea there certainly wasn't calm. Big rollers crashed in on the pebbly shore. It's a popular resort with lines of colourful umbrellas and lots of tourists. Parasailers soar out over the sea. Behind the beach, a few brave people plummet off the cliff in what they call "tandem paragliding." Oludeniz is the starting point for the Lycian Way, Turkey's only marked trekking route which winds along the coast to Antalaya.
At the village bazaar, I haggle with the jewelry sellers and watch a traditionally dressed lady rolling out gozleme, a kind of thin pancake, like a crepe but made with dough instead of batter, filled with shredded potato, cheese and onions. A delicious snack while waiting for the dolmus to take us back to Fethiye. I would have liked to have stayed longer, to go cruising down the Turquoise Coast. But that's something I can look forward to on my next visit, for I will certainly return.
Turkish bus service is excellent and there is a large choice of buses from most main towns on the coast.
Accommodations: Fethiye has a good selection of budget and mid-range accommodations. Resort hotels are usually booked in advance.
Entrance to the tombs is free. You just need a good set of legs to climb there.
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W. Ruth Kozak has been a historical fiction writer since her teens and a travel journalist for more than 15 years. She also instructs classes on travel writing, creative and novel writing and memoirs. She has travelled extensively, often solo and always on a budget. Her travels inspired her to create a new travel ezine
Photos courtesy of W. Ruth Kozak
Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author