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Marmaris Meaning: The Definition & Historical Origin of “Marmaris”

Aerial view of Marmaris and the surrounding hills
Did you know? The world's first underwater mosque lies just off the coast of Marmaris. Might be a bit hard to get there now though

Marmaris is a world-famous holiday town and tourist hotspot on the beautiful Mediterranean coast of Muğla Province in southwest Turkey.

Since the early 2000s, it’s been a popular destination for holidayers looking to enjoy the sea, sun, and, of course, the gorgeous food. It really is a wonderful mix of natural beauty, historical charm, and crazy nightlife. 

But what does “Marmaris” even mean? is a question that many of us have probably asked ourselves at some point. It’s a peculiar name and has a nice ring to it, but it’s impossible to make out its meaning from the name itself. 

So, in this article, we will get into the etymology of Marmaris, learn a bit more about its history, and give some holiday tips for anyone considering a visit to this fantastic holiday destination.


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Aerial view of Marmaris harbour

Meaning of the Word “Marmaris”

The name "Marmaris" comes from the Turkish word “mermer”, which translates to “marble” in English. This is due to the many marble deposits dotted around the hills surrounding the town. Marmaris played a big role in the marble trade in the 15th century thanks to these deposits and the availability of a port to make shipping easier.

But did you know that Marmaris once had a different name? 


Marmaris central boat harbour

A Brief History of Marmaris

The town and castle of Physkos, as it was known back then, had been standing since around 3000BC, until it was assaulted and its populace scattered to the nearby hills by the armies of Alexander the Great in 334BC. 

It would be much later, around 1500AD, when Marmaris would begin to regain its significance after being taken by the famous Ottoman Sultan Suleiman II from the Knights of St John as part of his conquest of the island of Rhodes.

Later, in 1798, Admiral Nelson and his fleet found refuge in Marmaris' harbor on their way to Egypt to defeat Napoleon's French armada.


Marmaris Uzunyali district at night

Is Marmaris Worth Visiting Today?

The construction boom of the 1980s led to Marmaris no longer being an off-the-beaten-path fishing village, but an utterly beautiful seaside town ready to welcome investments and tourism opportunities. 

This breathtaking natural beauty and rich historical and cultural heritage soon started drawing in locals and tourists alike looking to escape the cold and rain and enjoy the sun and golden sands. And today, one can find tons of accommodation, dining, shopping, and most of all, partying opportunities here for an enjoyable and low-cost summer holiday.

Marmaris is not just sun and a few beaches, however, it also offers a wealth of activities for adventure lovers. It’s a massive center for sailing and scuba diving, rocking two major marinas and several smaller ones, accommodating the richest people in the world as they traverse the Mediterranean.

Here are a few spots in Marmaris that we know you'll love:

  • Marmaris Grand Bazaar for the queen of all shopping experiences

  • Uzunyali Beach and its many restaurants, bars, and kebab houses

  • Icmeler for a quieter sea and shopping experience

  • The world-famous Atlantis Waterpark

  • The Bar Street & Marina for drinking and dining

  • The Davy Jones, Night Party, Submarine, or Scuba boats.

While here, if you also want to get a taste of Greek culture, Marmaris offers easy access to the nearby Greek islands of Rhodes and Symi. Regular ferry services operate between Marmaris and these unique islands for a chance to embark on a day of adventure and immerse yourself in Greek history and beauty. 


Cat sleeping on Marmaris dock

Insider Tips for Holidaying In Marmaris

Considering a trip to Marmaris? Here are some time-tested tips to help you make the most of your stay here:

  • Head to the Old Town: If you’re looking to unwind a bit and get a bigger look into Turkish culture, the Old Town is the place for you. It’s basically the oldest part of Marmaris that still has tons of historical architecture and vintage shops for holidayers. And don't forget to visit the Castle Museum, it’s a must-visit for any first-timer.

  • Participate in Watersports: Marmaris is a haven for watersports enthusiasts. If you enjoy a spot of water sports, why not try your hand at diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, or flyboarding?

  • Discover the Surrounding Beauty: Venture beyond the town limits and explore the natural wonders around Marmaris. The coast is chock full of beautiful coves, historical ruins, natural conservation areas, and more!

  • Kebabs Kebabs Kebabs: The kebabs in Marmaris are out of this world. A lot of the heavyweight grills literally bring in master chefs from every corner of the country to serve the best kebabs you can have in Turkey. The Adana, Iskender, Beyti, and Doner kebabs are a few of the ones preferred most by holidayers and locals alike.

  • Check Out the Nightlife: Marmaris comes to life after dark. Here, you can find anything from your typical high-end club with regular celebrity appearances, to foam parties that spill over to the sea! If you’re planning to go for the first time, The Arena Club might be your best option, it’s the most popular one in Bar Street and has the best DJs and most celebrity appearances.

Wondering where the best hotels are? Then head over to our list of the Top 10 Best Hotels In Marmaris!


Marmaris statue near the sea

Wrapping Up

Marmaris, with its history, nature, and crazy nightlife, is a holiday town that promises nothing short of an unforgettable experience.

Whether you are looking to chillax on the beach with a cocktail in hand or to dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean, Marmaris definitely has something for you. We’d love to have you here this summer. And don’t forget to haggle when shopping!


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