Veering 20 miles off the main Mugla – Fethiye highway in Turkey, is the bustling holiday resort of Marmaris. Over the last 20 years, it has expanded considerably, and now buildings, hotels and apartments spread backwards up the large face of the valley of which the resort is nestled. As well as the town centre, there are many small, surrounding holiday resorts which have also become favoured destinations for repeat holiday makers.
Home of the largest marina in Turkey, Marmaris is a favourite stopping point on the Turkish Riviera and also known as one of the best night-life destinations in the country. Indeed it attracts many young groups of friends, both domestic and foreign who want to party the night away. It is rarely highlighted or noticed for its historical timeline which is a shame because historical travel within the Marmaris region can be interesting.
Historical Travel in Marmaris
Historians have been unable to pinpoint the exact date when humans started to inhabit Marmaris but they can verify it was part of the ancient kingdom of Caria that existed in the 6th century BC. It was also invaded by Alexander the Great and the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed the conqueror in the 15th century.
Local myths tell of how Marmaris received its name when a castle was built for another Ottoman sultan and upon seeing it, he was that disgusted, and ordered the architect to be hung. It was also used as a defensive point by Lord Nelson in 1798 and following that, life was uneventful until the Turkish War of Independence at the beginning of the 20th century. These days, to gain a glimpse of the old town of Marmaris, visitors should head to the harbour and area surrounding the castle.
At the back of the harbour, where fishing vessels line, are small cobbled streets with old houses that were once part of the Greek quarter. These twist and turn to lead to the castle. Although the structure that stands today is not the original one, over the years, it expanded to include water cisterns, fountains and old houses. In 1991, it became a museum which now hosts themed exhibits and rooms, although it is more admired for its well-maintained gardens and stunning views over the Marmaris coastline.
Further afield, visit the small coastal resort of Bozburun, which is well known for generations of families that handcraft gulet boats, by still using techniques handed down over hundreds of years. Alternatively, hire a car and head to the Datca Peninsula, to see the ruins of Knidos, also dating from the Caria period. Other ruins to explore include Hydas, Amos and Idyma, and these are mainly seen by jumping on one of the three day Blue cruises of the Turkish Riviera.