Fethiye’s Ancient Telmessos Theatre – Recreating The Past

Back in September, we were excited to report that the restoration of Telmessos Theatre had started. Since then, we’ve done a couple of updates and, last time we posted about scaling the perimeter walls of Fethiye’s Telmessos Theatre, we said we’d leave it a while before we did another update. The restoration was at a stage where it looked as though developments wouldn’t be readily visible to the layman’s our eyes, at least for a few weeks. Boulders were being unearthed by hand and it was obviously going to take time as the workers carefully scraped earth away to reveal the shape of the theatre.

Over the weekend, we decided to head on into town to see if there was any more progress. It’s been four months but we weren’t hopeful because the winter’s been so wet and work must surely have been hampered. But our little effort to walk into Fethiye was duly rewarded and slowly, slowly, Telmessos Theatre is becoming a 21st century centrepiece for the town.

Fethiye Theatre Restoration

A temporary staircase for residents

The most obvious development is that more of the west side of the theatre has been revealed since we last took photos, meaning the concrete steps leading up to the homes above have had to go. It was a makeshift wooden staircase that carried us up to the higher level to get some photos.

Fethiye Theatre Restoration Work

More of the walls see the light of day

From the wooden steps, you can see the darker bits of the walls where the earth has been scraped away. We’re no archaeologists but it does look like the wall ended here, and then there’s a gap to the next part of the perimeter wall. We’re wondering if this was one of the original side entrances and if so, wonder if it will be kept that way?

The name of this project is Telmessos Antik Tiyatrosu Restorasyonu ve Onarım İşi (Telmessos Antique Theatre Restoration and Repair Work / Project). What is happening here is an effort to repair and recreate what once was – so that Fethiye has a showpiece that is also practical. Sadly, much of the original stonework is gone – used as foundations in the rebuilding of homes after the 1957 earthquake or used to build the present day harbour walls, depending on which source you read.

Fethiye Theatre Work

Modern day additions arrive to fill in the gaps

Wherever those stones may have gone, there seems to be very much a feeling of what’s-done-is-done-it-can’t-be-changed-and-let’s-work-with-what-we’ve-got. The theatre deserves that much. Original stones are still labelled up and lying opposite the theatre waiting to be put into place, and what the team haven’t got, they need to recreate. This was the sight over the weekend – a lorry was delivering huge blocks to the restoration site. We couldn’t work out if it’s stone, marble or even concrete but it looks as though these are going to be the 2013 additions to the ancient Telmessos theatre.

Restoration Work, Fethiye Ancient Theatre

It was noisy and dusty!

And again, progress is going to be slow as it looks as though each block is going to be worked on by this guy in the photo. Whether that’s to ‘age’ them or reshape them, we have no idea…but we’ll find out all in good time. For now, we’re still left in nervous anticipation (please let us be wowed) of what’s to come, and excitement (we’re looking forward to being wowed) about what’s to come. As such, rest assured we’ll be we’ll be wandering around these walls again sometime soon…

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  1. Stephen Paul Shakesheff says

    That could prove to be something really special. I have sat on these steps many times and pondered how incredible the place must have been in ancient times, with the harbour as the stadium’s backdrop.

    Sadly, I also have an angry memory from there too where someone claiming to work as a guide there showed us around for 5 mins and then took us to an area just out of street view and demanded 200L for the privelege! He got 5L but I was livid for hours/days.

  2. @ Stephen Shakesheff: You’re right, it could be fantastic and it’ll be great for Fethiye to have an open air theatre for concerts.

    Heard tales in the past about people hanging around there claiming to be guides. Think we would have been livid for days rather than hours. People like that give Turkey a bad name and it’s unfair on the professional guides who have to work so hard. Think your story serves as a reminder to us all to ask for credentials before we accept offers from ‘guides.’ 🙂

  3. I read somewhere that smearing yoghurt on exposed stone is a great way to ‘age’ it. Apparently bacteria works its magic to give an authentic weathered look. And Turkey is not short of yoghurt!

  4. Exciting and informative. Hope to see more posts about this as development occurs!

  5. At long last – I’ve always felt so sorry for this abandoned theatre.

  6. Let’s hope they restore it as it deserves, it would be so fantastic to see it fully out there, do keep us posted 🙂

  7. @ Jack Scott: Hmm, interesting. Next time we go up for a little investigation, we’ll look out for the tubs of yoghurt. 😉

    @ BacktoBodrum: We’ll see what the final outcome will be soon no doubt. Exciting. 🙂

  8. @ April: Well, we’ll be updating as and when so keep an eye out for the posts. 🙂

    @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Well, it’s the culture ministry and a ream from Izmir doing the work so we’re hopeful… 🙂

  9. Wow! They are doing a lot of work. It looks like the road is blocked. How to folks drive to the marina?

  10. @ Mark: Ha ha, well you’ve missed all that. There’s a photo in one of the previous posts (the Fethiye Photo(s) one that comes up in ‘other posts you might like. Worth a look as it’s quite odd. The road now goes right past Iskele Restaurant on the wide bit of the harbour. Naturally, it’s very narrow as there needs to be room for Iskele customers on one side and pedestrians on the other. Seems to be working okay for now. Not sure what the permanent plan is. 🙂

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