Fethiye Telmessos Theatre Restoration: Scaling The Perimeter

It’s got to be said that we feel very privileged to be able to watch the developments around the excavation and restoration of an ancient theatre so close to where we live. Of course, we’re alluding to Fethiye’s Telmessos theatre. Back in September of this year, the road passing the site was rerouted and the restoration started. At the time, we could see nothing more than a bit of wire fencing and a closed off road, but it was exciting all the same.

Then, a fortnight later, we posted photos of an already different-looking Telmessos Theatre. Scrub had been cleared and the site looked huge. A couple of days ago – the beginning of November – we decided to return to see what, if anything, looked different.

Let’s scale the walls of Fethiye’s Telmessos Theatre


The wire fencing surrounding the theatre is now also covered in green mesh fabric so it’s difficult to see exactly what’s going on.

Fethiye Telmessos Theatre

Work continues on the theatre restoration

However, people still need access to their homes which surround the perimeter walls, so we decided to take a circular stroll along their access routes to see if we could see anything more. We could!

Watching these guys revealing previously covered sections with their pickaxes gives us a good impression of how painstaking this work is. Above is on the west wing of the theatre and this is where most of the digging is going on at the moment.

Archaeologists At Telmessos Theatre, Fethiye

A giant jigsaw puzzle


This is the bit that really fascinates. Huge rocks and pillars have been laid out on the opposite side of the road and are being are being labelled and recorded, one by one, by the restoration team. How do you tell one rectangular slab from another?


Continuing the climb around the perimeter, you get a sense of the size of the theatre, and of the size of the job. We’ve been told recently that the restoration could take two years. We don’t know how true this is but, looking at this scene, two years seems like a sensible time-scale to us!

Telmessos Theatre Restoration, Fethiye

A better view of proceedings from above


When restoration is complete, those who are lucky enough to get the back row seating for any performances are also going to get these beautiful views of the gülets in Fethiye marina and the lights of the town, just to the right of the shot above.


Now we’re at the very top and curious people have already, conveniently for us, pulled back the mesh fabric that was obscuring the views. Much discussion and pointing going on down below us between restoration team members with clipboards.

Fethiye Telmessos Ancient Theatre

Wonder in new rows of seats will be added


And we come full circle, back down to ground level along the east side of the theatre. Visible progress over the next few months is probably going to be minimal, but we’ve created a Fethiye Telmessos Theatre Restoration Project photo album on our Facebook page so we’ll be adding photos there as and when, if you want to keep up with developments.

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  1. This is great to see Julia! I can’t believe it’s taken so long. Please keep up the reports and photos. I remember those fabulous views too.

  2. hi julia! i don’t do facebook but i would love to follow the progress of this restoration. i am very interested in this project. will you continue to post about this? thanks so much for sharing this.

  3. I would love to watch the progression happen! I’d even love to be part of an excavation. It sounds so exciting! Keep the photos coming then. 🙂

  4. @ Connie: Fantastic, isn’t it. Can’t believe how much stone they’ve uncovered already. Also wondering if some of it may have been at the Fethiye museum as a lot of it seems to have appeared from nowhere.

  5. @ Jaz: As long as there’s very visible progress, we’ll keep doing the progress reports on here, no probs. Can’t help but think the next few months are going to be men with pickaxes, recovering stone. 🙂 Anything drastic, and we’ll post it. 🙂

    @ Joy: Well we’re exactly the same as you. Would love to be part of an excavation team. 🙂 Watching this will have to suffice for now.

  6. It does feel good to see progress there, how fabulous it would be once the restoration completed, with that amazing view:) please keep us posted:) thank you!!

  7. That is fantastic! What an amazing process to witness. 🙂 It is going to be stunning to see the end result.

  8. How cool is that?! I love seeing these amazing places unearthed and used again. 🙂

  9. What painstaking work. I didn’t realise that they were excavating uncovered areas. A huge job!

  10. Hi Julia,
    Do you know which university is directing the dig?

  11. @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Really good to see progress with the theatre. Looking forward to seeing how they’re going to add the bits that are missing. 🙂

    @ Rambling Tart: It is isn’t it and it’s goign to be really good for Fethiye when it’s finished.

  12. @ Jenny: Well we thought all that was visible was all there was to the theatre but they’ve uncovered lots more. Presume they knew it was there in the first place…

    @ BacktoBodrum: Not sure to be honest. Will ask around. We know the funding’s come from the Ministry of Culture so it’s a Turkish lead thing. Maybe it says on the info boards. Will let you know if we find out anything. 🙂

  13. @ Travel Belles: Very cool. Can’t wait to see Fethiye with it’s very own useful theatre. 🙂

  14. Wow, beautiful! I’ll be joining the Facebook page to keep track. What an amazing thing to see and a fascinating place to be!

  15. @ Kris: Completely fascinating to live so close top a restoration project like this. It’s great for Fethiye. 🙂

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