Cosmopolitan charms of Marmaris, that used to be a fishing village less than 20 years ago, will surprise anyone with a choice of accommodation and entertainment. Marmaris is a Turkish Rivera. Once you set your foot here you will join its true vacation atmosphere! The old quarter of the town with its bustling bazaars and restaurants are well worth a visit. During the day, people head for the beach to do catamaran trips, parasailing, water skiing, sailing, scuba diving and the list goes on! Yet in Marmaris you are not confined to the town beach. Icmeler and its beach is 8 km down the road. Alternatively take advantage of one of the boats that chug away in the morning from the marina to scores of sandy beaches like Cleopatra’s Island and the Turtle Beach.
Once a little fishing port, Marmaris has developed into one of Turkey’s busiest and most Anglicized resorts. Its port welcomes luxury cruise liners, which disgorge passengers keen to sample the town’s extensive facilities and visit the archaeological sites nearby, just to name a few – the ancient city of Efes, (the second biggest city of Roman Empire, after Rome); another sightseeing place not to be missed is Pamukkale, that is considered to be the 8th world wonder. And much more! Marmaris also is South Aegean’s prettiest resort for scuba diving. There are several dive centers in Marmaris that arrange guided diving trips, excursions and even provide diving lessons for the inexperienced individuals, eager to try out this underwater sport. Shopping is a delight in Marmaris. Some truly shop till they drop in this shopping Mecca! Leather goods of all kinds, natural sponges and the local blue glass beads (the Boncuk) are among the bargains to be found in the friendly little shops along the downtown bazaar. Charming boutiques at the end of the promenade offer kilims, carpets, sandals and embroidery as well as original fashions.
History of Marmaris
It is not known when Marmaris was founded, but Physkos as Marmaris was previously known, was part of the Carian Empire in the 6th century B.C. when overrun by the Lydians. Another invasion by the Lydians in 334 B.C. led to the partition of the Roman Empire of Alexander the Great.
According to the historian Herodotus, the Carians settled in what is now the province of Mugla after coming from Crete. They also took over the town of Physkos with its large natural harbour, and used it as a military base for their campaigns against the Phoenicians in Rhodes and other Aegean islands.The Carian civilization entered a dark period after 300 B.C., coming under the rule of the Egyptians, Asstrians, Ionians and Dorians successively. The Dorians turned the Carian province into 9 colony cities, also including Halicarnassos and Knidos, which became an active trading centre for Anatolia and led to an increase in handicrafts and maritime trade.
In 138 B.C. Attalos the 3rd, King of Bergama, whose predecessors had ruled Caria for 90 years, ceded Physkos to Rome and the city was ruled from Rhodes by Roman generals. The city became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1425, and the castle was built in 1521 AD for use in a planned assault on Rhodes. The Ottoman Sultan at the time, Kanuni Sultan Suleyman, changed the name of the town to Mimaras, which then became Marmaris according to the historian Evlija Celebi.
A local rumour has it that the reason for the change of name Mimaras was that Suleyman, on returning from his expedition to Rhodes, disliked the castle and exclaimed “mimar as!”, which means “hang the architect!” Unfortunately there is no evidence to support this amusing story.