Modern Fethiye was known in history to the ancient world as Telmessos and used to be the most important city of the ancient Lycian civilization. Despite the lack of information about its founding, historians agree that the appearance of the city dates back to the 5th century BC.
Following the Fethiye history Lycian legend explains the origin of the name Telmessos as, the god Apollo who fell in love with a beautiful girl by the name of Agenor, the youngest daughter of the king of the Phoenix. He transformed into a little dog and he made his way to a shy and timid Princess and eventually won her love. After which, Apollo transformed back and then his son Telmessos was born, whose name translates as "the land of lights".
Ancient city of Telmessos (Turkey) is located on the border between Lycia and Karya (now territory of Turkey). The city has been widely known as a centre of prophecy and its predictors had a strong influence on the course of Fethiye history. The fact that life in Telmessos was culturally rich in the Hellenistic and Roman periods is confirmed by survived monuments such as stone tombs, Lycian sarcophaguses, the Rhodes fortress and the Roman Theatre.
In 547 BC along with all the cities of Lycia and Karya,Telmessos was captured by the Persian general Harpagos, and the city of Apollo's son joined the Persian Empire. Earlier Telmessos Fethiye was part of the Attic Maritime Union, also known as the Delian League founded in the second half of the 5th century BC. Over time the city left the union but continued to maintain a relationship with it up to the 4th century BC when it became independent.
Later, Alexander the Great appeared in ancient city of Telmessos and according to one legend in the winter of 334-333 BC, the city surrendered to him of its own will. According to another legend during his Asian campaign Alexander the Great attempted to take over Anatolia by sending his powerful fleet to the bay of Telmessos. The commander of Alexander’s fleet asked the city governor for permission to allow his musicians and slaves to enter the city. After receiving permission, his soldiers disguised as musicians and slaves, seized the acropolis of the city during the night festivities.
In the year of 240 BC Ptolemy III passed the city of Telmessos to the son of King Lizimakhos. Further, according to the agreement signed in 189 BC after the Magnesia battle, the Romans passed the city to king Eunenes of the Bergamon kingdom. After the fall of the Bergamon kingdom the city of Telmessos in 133 BC joined the Lycian League and was one of the six most important cities of the union. Further in the 8th century AD the rule over the city fell into the hands of King Anastasios 2nd.
The ancient city of Telmessos Fethiye was captured in 1284 by the principality of Menteseogullari and it was renamed to Makri, which means "remote city". In the year of 1424 the city became part of the Ottoman Empire. In this time range the Fethiye castle was built and again rebuilt by Knights of Rhodes.
Finally in the year of 1934 it changed its name from Makri and got its present name, Fethiye in honour of Fethi Bey, who was the first Turkish combat pilot who died tragically in accident.
The Byzantine Empire. In A.D. 330 the Roman emperor Constantine chose Byzantium as his eastern capital. Byzantium, renamed Constantinople, became the most important city in the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman, Empire. For some 200 years, from the 800s to 1000s, the Byzantine Empire was a great world power. The Christian religion and much of the ancient Greek civilization survived here and were passed on to other parts of Europe and Asia.
During the 1000s, the first Turkish tribes, called Seljuks, came from western Central Asia and settled in what is now central and eastern Turkey. The Seljuks were followers of the Islamic religion. They attacked the Byzantine Empire and set up a Muslim state in Asian Turkey. The Seljuks in turn were weakened by the Christian Crusaders on their way to capture Palestine from its Muslim rulers. Later, Mongol invaders from Central Asia destroyed the little remaining power of the Seljuks. But the Seljuk settlements and states survived.
The Ottoman Empire. Another group of Turkish tribes from Central Asia arrived in the 1200s. They were called Ottomans, after their legendary first leader, Osman, or Othman (1259–1326). The Ottomans, or Ottoman Turks, conquered what remained of the Seljuk states. In 1326 they reached the Sea of Marmara. By 1360 the Ottomans had conquered much of what is now European Turkey. Constantinople held out until 1453, when it, too, fell to the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Empire reached its height during the 1500s. Under Sultan Suleiman I (1496–1566), known as the Magnificent, the empire extended across southeastern Europe and through parts of southern Russia, to Southwest Asia and North Africa.
Under succeeding sultans the empire began to slowly decline. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, it had lost most of its European territories, including what are today Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and other parts of the Balkans. Egypt and other northern African states also became virtually independent.
Many Turks believed that changes in Turkish laws and customs were necessary to halt further decline. Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, known as Abdul the Damned, promised reforms but did not keep his word. In 1908 he was overthrown by a group of reforming politicians called Young Turks. They introduced political and social reforms and established a constitutional monarchy under Sultan Mohammed V.
It was too late, however, to stem the decline. The final breakup of the empire came after World War I (1914–18). As one of the defeated powers, the empire was forced to give up its remaining non-Turkish lands. The chief victorious powers, France and Britain, occupied Istanbul for a time, and in 1919, Greek troops invaded Turkey's Aegean coast.
Republic of Turkey. With the Ottoman government helpless, a Turkish general, Mustafa Kemal, organized a temporary government whose forces expelled the Greeks in 1922. The last sultan, Mohammed VI, was deposed, and in 1923, Kemal established a Turkish republic, with its capital in Ankara. Kemal became its first president. Adopting the surname Atatürk ("Father of the Turks"), he introduced many reforms that helped transform Turkey into a modern nation.