If you didn’t already know our town of Fethiye has a museum, you could go for years visiting the area and never come across the unassuming premises.
Tucked away on a side street opposite a school, the single storey concrete building resembles many of the other smaller municipality buildings in town.
And it’s not as though there’s any obvious ‘Fethiye Museum’ signage to distinguish it from those other buildings.
A person not in the know could wander by this building on a daily basis. Oblivious to the fact that what lies beyond the double gates are some real archaeological treasures.
The weathered ‘MÜZE’ (Museum) lettering above the entrance door is the most obvious clue.
And, should you happen to divert your eyes towards the side and rear garden area, beyond the wire fencing, pillar fragments, and other stone artefacts might give the game away.
But, whilst its hidden setting isn’t immediately obvious, that doesn’t mean Fethiye Archaeological Museum isn’t worth hunting out and visiting.
Quite the contrary.
Fethiye Museum brings context and makes the local area’s history tangible.
And its compact size means this history doesn’t become abstract or too overwhelming for the brain to digest.
What Fethiye Museum lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of the artefacts on display in there.
Visiting Fethiye Archaeological Museum
We’d lived in Fethiye for some time before we ourselves made it to the museum.
Perhaps because we live here. We’d always intended a visit but never actually got there.
It took the discovery by archaeologists, back in 2011, of relatively intact Roman statues at the ancient Tlos ruins to kick us into action with regards our visit.
Longtime followers of this blog will know that Tlos is right up there amongst our favourite sites so we were excited by the statue discovery:
- Roman Emperor, Hadrian
- Antoninus Pius
- Marcus Aurelius
- Faustina The Younger (daughter of Antoninus Pius and wide of Marcus Aurelius)
- Goddess, Isis.
We’d expected the statues to be transported to the already fabulous Antalya Archaeological Museum.
But local media reports excitedly revealed the news that they would be housed in Fethiye Museum.
On that day, the five statues were still at the entrance gate, lined along the wall, patiently awaiting their new homes on display stands.
We hoped that new home would be indoors.
Tlos And Kaunos Artefacts
The Tlos Statues
Our most recent visit told us that that was the case. There are two rooms in Fethiye Archaeological Museum.
One of those rooms is the Tlos & Kaunos Salon where, obviously, finds from those two sites are on display.
Two of the statues were proudly displayed just beyond the entrance door to the room.
Kaunos Statue Artemis
This was home to the Carian people and findings from the site are displayed in the Tlos and Kaunos Room.
Kaunos has provided archaeologists with many answers about the relationships between the Carians and the Lycians. And with shared deities.
This statue of Artemis is remarkably intact.
And, according to the information on display, the carvings on her garments have revealed to archaeologists that the Carian people shared a common form of Anatolian deity.
This figure resembles Artemis of Ephesus and Aphrodite of Aphrodisias.
Her armless torso has close ties with the Lycian goddess Artemis Eleuteria who was mother goddess of Myra.
Apparently, however, it wasn’t until the discovery of this statue of Artemis that archaeologists could decipher the nature of her worship.
The images on her torso show that Artemis was worshipped as a goddess of fertility and protector of cities.
As well as a few paragraphs of information about excavations at both sites, you’re going to find a smattering of display cabinets featuring various clay pots, jewellery and coins.
No visit to an archaeological museum is complete without these types of display.
You can browse these at your leisure and wonder at how little fashions change over the centuries.
Some of the clay pots wouldn’t look out of place in our own kitchen!
Unfortunately, there’s no extra information on any of these artefacts – they’re just there for your viewing.
Lycian Period To 20th Century
Obviously, being on the southwest coast of Turkey, many of the finds on display in Fethiye Museum are from the Lycian era – Hellenistic, Roman and Ottoman periods, too.
This is one of the reasons why we find Fethiye Museum so rewarding.
We’ve visited many of these relatively local sites on numerous occasions.
And, as for Fethiye, itself, the museum expands beyond its main building and perimeter garden walls and reaches all over the town.
The Trilingual Stele
Yes, the town’s not-so-grandiose museum is home to the famous trilingual stele.
This is the Lycian world’s answer to the Rosetta Stone in that its discovery gave archaeologists the key to the Lycian language.
Unearthed at Letoon in 1973, the stele has inscriptions in Lycian, Greek and Aramaic.
The Temple Of Apollo Mosaic
When you visit the site of Letoon, you will come across a mosaic on the ground at the Temple of Apollo.
The mosaic you view is a replica. Because the original is here at Fethiye Museum.
The mosaic features a sun in the centre – a symbol of Lycia land of light.
The arrow of Artemis and the lyre of Apollo are either side.
The mosaic was brought to the museum in 2004 to protect it from the elements.
And for visitors to the site, itself, it’s beneficial that the replica is in place because we get to witness the more vivid colours and patterns of the tiles.
As the situation stands at the moment, aside from the Kaunos and Tlos Salon, there just isn’t the space for running themes at Fethiye Museum.
This is no bad thing. You step from one artefact to the next; from a stele to an ancient mosaic…to a 19th Century door.
Greek churches are amongst the ruins. And in Fethiye Museum, you will find the doors to one of the most prominent of the churches.
These intricately-carved doors are from the ‘Lower Church,’ the Panayia Pirgiotissa. Note the 6-winged seraphim angels in the archways at the top.
In this area of Fethiye Museum, you will also find artefacts that have been excavated from Pınara and Sidyma as well as from around Fethiye neighbourhoods.
Into The Fethiye Museum Garden
From statues to tombs, to pillars and fragments, the Fethiye Museum garden is home to larger pieces which simply won’t fit indoors.
You can’t miss the lids of tombs carved into the shapes of lions.
It also gives a home to odd fragments that have been found that can stand any further weathering.
If you follow the curved pathway around to the rear of the garden, this is where you’ll find some statues unearthed at the ancient Telmessos Theatre, overlooking Fethiye harbour.
When we visited Fethiye Museum in the past, we remember these statues – or at least some like them – being inside. So displays are moved around on occasion.
Whilst each artefact in the garden is labelled, there isn’t much information about them, unfortunately.
Statues, tombs, frieze fragments and other pieces are from ancient sites such as Cadianda.
Others are from local Fethiye neighbourhoods like Kesikkapı.
Kesikkapı neighbourhood is a treasure. Home to the famous Lycian Amyntas rock tomb and other tombs – one of which stands stubbornly and proudly in the middle of the main road!
And many of the fragments in the garden of Fethiye Museum will have ‘Unknown’ written where it should tell us about its origin.
That’s because some of these pieces have been confiscated in the past from looters and their original location from which they were taken is unknown.
Fethiye Archaeological Museum – FAQs
If you are interested in local Fethiye history and that of nearby areas, then please do make time to visit Fethiye Museum.
Yes, you can see the ruins all around the area but the museum houses a few real treasures from those sites.
As we said in the article, Fethiye Archaeological Museum is not necessarily a place you’re going to happen across. And the signposts are not obvious, either.
We’ve put a map at the bottom of this article for you. It’s on 505 Sokak in the town centre area.
It’s not too far from the Fethiye Tuesday market (or Friday market, on the same site) if you want to combine a trip.
Back by the harbour and the Dispanser area behind, there are lots of places for food and refreshment.
There has been talk of relocating the museum over the last few years but, for the time being at least, there are no signs of that happening, yet.
At the time of writing in 2022, the fabulous news is that entry to Fethiye Museum is free of charge.
Fethiye Museum is open daily from 08:30-17:30. (This can change slightly so check locally if you are wanting to visit close to opening and closing times.)