Kayaköy “Ghost Town”

Kayaköy, Turkey abandoned villageWe Hobbits visited a place called Kayaköy (Kaya Village) and which some call Kayaköy “Ghost Town”. This village on the Lycian Coast near Fethiye was abandoned after the 1923 exchange of population between Greek Muslims and Ottoman (Greek) Orthodox Christians and was never re-inhabited.

Kayaköy allegedly had over 3,000 residents before the population exchange of 1923 which was a sad chapter in the lives of many Ottoman and Greek citizens.
The Ottoman Empire entered WW I on the side of Germany and they lost the war.

Under the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920, Britain, France, Italy, Greece and Armenia all were to carve up the Ottoman Empire and leave only a tiny little area up close to the Black Sea. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created a new nationalist government called Turkey in Ankara, mobilized troops and supplies and successfully resisted the Allies. The French and Italians wisely did not fight the nationalists and the British stayed “neutral” while occupying Istanbul. The Greek army invaded Anatolia (the Asian side of Turkey often called Asia Minor) and the Turkish nationalists eventually fought a large-scale war with the invading Greek troops.

Treaty Of Sevres 1920

Treaty Of Sevres 1920

Eventually the Turks pushed the Greeks off the mainland at Izmir. After the Turkish resistance gained control over Anatolia, there was no hope of meeting the conditions of the Treaty of Sèvres. This resulted in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, signed by the governments of Greece and Turkey, which established official recognition of the new nation of Turkey and also ordered an exchange which took place “between Turkish citizens of the Greek Orthodox religion established in Turkish territory, and of Greek citizens of the Muslim religion established in Greek territory…

The Kayaköy “Ghost Town” in our photos is a result of that exchange. The Greek Muslims who were sent there did not want to stay for various reasons and shortly drifted away to other areas. For ages before WW I, the village was a mix of Armenians, Greeks, Jews and Turks all living together and calling themselves Ottomans. As nationalism grew, distrust and hatred of “others” became stronger and eventually the Armenian and Greek citizens left or were forced to leave. Today there are only a very small minority of both left in the country.

Louis de Bernieres-Birds Without Wings

Louis de Bernieres-Birds Without Wings

Kayaköy was the inspiration for an epic novel Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres, the same author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Corelli was made into a film with Nicholas Cage and “Birds Without Wings” will be made into a film also.

While you are in Kayaköy stop by and visit Dean and Ayşe Livesley who can arrange activities such as sea-kayaking in and around the Kayaköy and Ölu Deniz area. Ayşe also teaches Turkish cuisine to travellers.

You can also go up in the hills above Fethiye and visit Mel at Mountain Lodge up near Tlos the ancient Lycian site. (You will need a scooter or rental car but worth the drive. Mel can arrange to meet you at a dolmuş stop, call or email her and ask.)

Mountain Lodge and Tlos are a nice “two for one” and while there, stop off at Yakapark Restaurant for an interesting lunch with ice-cold running water everywhere under huge shade trees.

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