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FETHİYE Turquoise necklace on the Mediterranean
2003 / September

Fethiye is a place for those escaping from the big cities who yearn for sun and sea and to throw themselves into the relaxing embrace of nature. Equally it is irresistible to those fascinated by culture and history. The town lies on a beautiful island-sprinkled gulf in southwest Turkey where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean. In antiquity the town was named after Telmessos, son of Apollo and the daughter of King Agenor of the Phoenicians. One of the six leading members of the Lycian Federation, remains of its ancient past can be seen everywhere in the town, most memorable of all being the magnificent Lycian rock tombs carved into the cliffs. In Ottoman times Fethiye was known as Makri or Megri, meaning 'distant place,' but in 1914 was renamed in memory of Fethi Bey, one of the first Turkish pilots who crashed in 1913. No day will be the same when you stay in Fethiye. Spend one day in one of the many lovely coves, another exploring the gulf by boat, and another in one of the spectacular valleys hidden in the mountains, or discovering one of the dozen or more ancient cities of the region.

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FETHİYE Turquoise necklace on the Mediterranean
2003 / September

West of the town stretches the four kilometre long Çalis Beach, ideal for windsurfing, the little bay of Inlice encircled by woods of oriental sweet-gum trees, and the bays of Katranci and Kargi concealed amongst woods of eastern Mediterranean pine. To the east are the pine clad bays of Karagözler, Kalemya, Boncuk and Turunc. To explore the many islands, coves and inlets of the gulf, just jump on one of the boats for a voyage of your dreams. The Twelve Islands-Yassica, Tersane, Göcek, Domuz, Zeytin, Kizil and a few nameless islets-in the northwest arm of the bay are perfect for island hopping. Then there are the beautiful bays of Yavansu, Bedri Rahmi, Göbün, Boynuzbükü, Sarsala and Hamam. In the last of these bays on the Kapıdağı headland that marks the northern mouth of the gulf you can stroll around the ruins of Lydae. Gemiler Island can be reached by rowing boat from Gemile Bay, or there are tours by motorboat from Fethiye.

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FETHİYE Turquoise necklace on the Mediterranean
2003 / September

This island, also known as St Nicola has ruins dating from the early Christian and Byzantine periods, including a 500 metre long tunnel linking the palace on the summit to the church below. Six kilometres to the south of Fethiye, on the way to the spectacular Ölüdeniz lagoon, are Hisarönü and Ovacik, where there are hotels, shops and diverse recreation facilities. Here you will see signs reading 'Lycian Road, Fethiye-Antalya 509 km.' Do not be surprised at the distance. This is Turkey's longest hiking route, through breathtaking scenery and taking in many of the ancient ruins of Lycia. Walking the entire route is a holiday in itself, but you can always follow the path for a short stretch to enjoy the marvellous views. And now for the Ölüdeniz lagoon itself, the treasured jewel of Fethiye. The lagoon lies 14 miles from the town in the large bay of Belcekiz. The crystal clear water without a speck of seaweed and calm as a mirror is enclosed by a white spit of sand on one side and pine-clad hills on the other. Behind the lagoon, its waters shimmering in a myriad shades of blue, towers the massive bulk of Mount Babadag.

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FETHİYE Turquoise necklace on the Mediterranean
2003 / September

When you drag your eyes away from the blue enchantment and look up, you notice paragliders of every colour drifting across the sky. If the temptation to join them is irresistible, are all you have to do is make a booking at one of the agencies along the beach. Accompanied by an experienced pilot even novices can enjoy floating down from the summit of Babadag, over the lagoon and the bay, with an unforgettable view far across the gulf of Fethiye, that from this height is reduced to the size of a lake. From Ölüdeniz Lagoon you can catch a motorboat to Butterfly Valley, a spectacular gorge whose walls rise up 400 metres located on the other side of Babadag. The boat takes you to a tiny sand and pebble beach at the mouth of the gorge. In this peaceful remote spot the only buildings are reed huts for those who come to explore or for longer exploring the upper reaches of the gorge.

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FETHİYE Turquoise necklace on the Mediterranean
2003 / September

But even if you are there only for a few hours, it is time enough to see the magnificent butterflies on the white and pink oleanders, and to reach the first waterfall in this untouched paradise. Reaching the second waterfall, which is 60 metres high, is far more strenuous and recommended only for those who are fit and agile. The path on the right-hand side when you stand facing the entrance to the gorge takes you up to Faralya in half an hour, although you will have to do some rock climbing from time to time. At the top there is a marvellous view down the gorge to the sea. In this fascinating region, which is beautiful at every time of year, you can explore ancient cities, wild mountains, blue sea and icy waterfalls, all the time aware of treading in the footsteps of the ancient Lycians.

* Ersin Demirel is a freelance writer

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