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x0x VIRGIN ISLANDS IN THE GULF OF FETHIYE

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    x0x VIRGIN ISLANDS IN THE GULF OF FETHIYE By SELAHATTIN GUZEL* Every tone of blue and green can be seen in the Gulf of Fethiye, where the encircling mainland
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2003
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      x0x VIRGIN ISLANDS IN THE GULF OF FETHIYE

      By SELAHATTIN GUZEL*

      Every tone of blue and green can be seen in the Gulf of Fethiye, where
      the encircling mainland seems to draw the sea into the embrace of its
      vegetation. The trees grow right down to the watr'sa edge, their
      branches and leaves reaching out as if unaware of the Mediterranean's
      salinity. The tiny islands scattered over the gulf, which in antiquity
      was known as the Gulf of Glaukos after the famous Lycian general who
      fought in the Trojan wars, resemble pearls strung around the neck of a
      young bride. So we invite you to join us on a tour of this beautiful
      place.

      We boarded a boat in Fethiye harbour and headed out of the bay, across
      whose mouth lies Sovalye Island, leaving only two channels at the east
      and west extremities. The narrow eastern channel is too shallow for
      large boats and ships, which have to use the western channel. In many
      cases the same advantages which attracted the people of antiquity to a
      particular spot are still valid today, which is why contemporary towns
      and cities in Turkey are so often built on or near ancient cities.

      This is the case with Sovalye Island, whose many summer villas share
      the island with the ruins of late Roman walls, cisterns and churches.

      The name Sovalye, meaning cavalier or knight, derives from the fact
      that in the Middle Ages knights turned pirate made their base here at
      various times. Some early writers also refer to the island as Megri
      Island, after the ancient name for Fethiye. Leaving the island behind
      we headed out into the gulf to Kizil Ada or Red Island, with its steep
      shores. There is no trace of an ancient settlement on this island,
      where the only inhabitants today are the lighthouse keeper and his
      family. The group of rocky islets just to the north are collectively
      known as Tavsan Adasi or Rabbit Island. We now sailed north to
      Katranci Adasi which lies close to the shore opposite the mouth of the
      Kargi river. Ancient geographers refer to this island as Telandria,
      and it is thought that there was a port of the same name on the
      mainland.

      Tour boats take visitors to the bay known as Cleopatra's Bath on the
      Kapidag Peninsula, where history and natural beauty are inseperably
      intertwined. Subsidence of the land over the centuries has resulted in
      buildings that were originally on the shore being submerged, and it is
      these 6th century AD ruins which have been given the romantic name of
      Cleopatra's Bath.

      At the north extremity of the gulf, facing the village of Gocek, is
      the eponymous island of Gocek, a group of islands known as Yassicalar
      Islands and Haci Halil Island. Apart from a handful of summer houses
      and a few stalls selling food to people touring the gulf by yacht,
      these are all uninhabited. Some Byzantine ruins can be seen on Gocek
      and Haci Halil islands, and in Sarisu Bay on the east side of the
      former are the ruins of a 7th century church. The remains of numerous
      Byzantine churches on the islands and shores of the gulf, and along
      the coast to the east mark the places where pilgrims to the Holy Land
      halted on their voyage through the Mediterranean in mediaeval times.

      The largest island in the gulf is Tersane Adasi, where on the shores
      of the northwest bay are ruins including a watch tower, and a
      mausoleum in a better state of preservation. Other more recent
      buildings belong to the former Greek settlement.

      To the south is Domuz Adasi or Pig Island, which from a distance
      appears to be joined to the Kapidag Peninsula at the south-west
      extremity of the gulf, but is in fact divided from the mainland by an
      narrow channel. On the eastern shore of the island is a ruined
      building dating from the late Roman period which has been badly
      damaged by winter seas over the centuries. Around 200 metres to the
      south of this is a church thought to date from the 12th century. Its
      position on slightly higher ground means that it has been protected
      from waves and its walls are still standing intact.

      Outside the Gulf of Fethiye is Gemiler Adasi (Island of Ships), which
      is within easy reach and well worth visiting. Ruins indicate that this
      island had a large population in ancient times. It was formerly known
      as Keklik or Partridge Island.

      The ruins include four large churches, many cisterns, mausoleums, and
      storage buildings on the shore, showing that it was both a religious
      and commercial centre.

      This spectacularly lovely gulf with its fascinating traces of ancient
      and mediaeval history is a favourite yachting destination, and can
      equally be enjoyed as a day trip when staying in this area. l

      * Selahattin Guzel is director of Fethiye Cultural Office.
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