When you are cruising the Mediterranean Sea with MSC Cruises it’s easy to understand why Marmaris’ history has been determined above all by its stunning setting, in a deep, fjord-like inlet surrounded by pine-cloaked hills.
This did not seem to spur ancient Physcus, the original Dorian colony, to any growth or importance, but Süleyman comfortably assembled an army here in 1522, when launching its successful siege of Rhodes.
Shortly after this campaign Süleyman endowed the old town nucleus with the tiny castle and a inn. Little is left of the sleepy fishing village Marmaris used to be, a mere three decades ago. Development has dwarfed the old core of shops and lokantas lining narrow, bazaar-like streets, an intricate warren contrasting strongly with the European-style marina and waterfront. According to legend, Marmaris was named when Süleyman the Magnificent, not finding the castle here to his liking, was heard to mutter “Mimarı as” (“hang the architect”). The castle itself holds a museum of local finds and serves as a venue during the May festival.
The bazaar, including its diminutive kervansaray, now rivals that at Kuşadası for its array of glitzy kitsch, and only the Kaleiçi district, the warren of streets at the base of the tiny castle, offers a pleasant wander.
The growing but still beautiful riverside resort of Dalyan, 85km west of Marmaris, it’s a good excursion for visiting nearby attractions like the ancient site of Kaunos across the river, İztuzu beach at the river mouth, and the beautiful freshwater lake of Köyceğiz with its shoreline hot springs. Dalyan first came to prominence in 1986, when controversy erupted over a proposed luxury hotel on nearby İztuzu beach, a hatching ground for loggerhead turtles. Conservationists succeeded in halting the scheme, and now the beach is statutorily protected between May and October, when eggs are laid.