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TURKISH GHOST TOWN

September 23rd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Not having reached the so-called “ghost town” of Kayakoy (or “Kaya” as it is known locally) by hiking from Cold Water Bay we decided to visit by bus from Fethiye.  The 8 km bus ride from the main bus stop in town cost 3.5 Turkish lira (about $2) per person each way and the 30 minute ride was much easier on Kent’s knees.  It also gave us an opportunity to see some of the inland countryside as the bus took us up over a ridge and back down to the valley which Kaya overlooks. 

1000 abandoned houses are scattered over the hillside

1000 abandoned houses are scattered over the hillside

Originally a Greek village, known as Levissi, the town was virtually abandoned and fell to ruin after a 1923 population exchange after the Turkish War of Independence.  At the time that the Greeks gave over the town to the Turks, they left behind some 1,000 houses, two large churches, and numerous chapels along with schools, fountains, cisterns.  The town starts at the valley and was built up the steep hillside.

 

Low walls separated properties

Low walls separated properties

One of the two churches sits high up the hill (known as the Upper Church) and another is at the valley floor (the Lower Church).  The climb to the Upper Church was steep.

The old knees got a work out climbing to the Upper Church

The old knees got a work out climbing to the Upper Church

The remnants of cobbled walkways, stairs, cisterns, fireplaces and ovens are visible through the broken walls.  Over time the town has been reclaimed by nature.  Trees grow through old buildings that still show the traditional blue paint of their Greek origins. 

On the left the remains of an old Chapel

On the left the remains of an old Chapel

Steps, a chimney and fireplace--all that remains of a home

Steps, a chimney and fireplace--all that remains of a home

Vine covered window on the past

Vine covered window on the past

The Upper Church has been ravaged with time, but still shows its past glory in some of the mosaics and architectural details. 

Walled entrance to Upper Church

Walled entrance to Upper Church

Stone Mosaics lead to the main entrance

Stone Mosaics lead to the main entrance

Ornate carving can still be seen under the dirt & decay

Ornate carving can still be seen under the dirt & decay

Vaulted ceiling of interior

Vaulted ceiling of interior

Upper Church in foreground seen from still higher up the hillside

Upper Church in foreground seen from still higher up the hillside

Then passing along the ridge through the upper part of the abandoned town we found the location were the path we missed from Cold Water Bay came through the ridge from the other side of the mountain. 

We followed the red paint marking the path we missed from Cold Water Bay

We followed the red paint marking the path we missed from Cold Water Bay

Can you see the path through the ridge?  We couldn't either!

Can you see the path through the ridge? We couldn't either!

Going down the steep path leading to the Lower Church on the opposite side of the village from where we started was challenging as the stones were slick from age and covered with loose gravel.

 

Looking down into the valley--Lower Church in distance

Looking down into the valley--Lower Church in distance

Lower Church

Lower Church

The Lower Church (which was reportedly used as a mosque until the 1960’s) is in better repair than the Upper Church and the brilliant blue paint and icons that originally adorned it are still visible inspite of its decay.

 

Lower Church is Ornate

Lower Church is Ornate

Frieze with orthodox icons

Frieze with orthodox icons

Portrait of Christ in horseshoe shaped garland

Portrait of Christ in horseshoe shaped garland

Many of the architectual features remain unchanged. 

Arches and blue paint

Arches and blue paint

. . .intricate carvings, and

. . .intricate carvings, and

. . .marble, and

. . .marble window casings, and

elaborate stone mosaics adorn this church as well.

elaborate stone mosaics adorn this church as well.

Today a handful of Turkish people live in the valley and Kaya is a national historic site–preserved from development.  But like many historic sites, it is also a tourist destination and with that comes business opportunity, whether it be restaurants or trinket shops that line the road below the abandoned village.

Oh yes, and camel rides!

Oh yes, and camel rides!

While the majority of the remains of the village are not ancient by modern standards, being only 400 or so years old, the story of the village that lost it’s population never to be occupied again is a compelling reminder of the extent to which wars change a place. 

The Turkish population that was “resettled” here never prospered and eventually abandoned the place–Greek “ghosts” perhaps?

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