Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kayakoy, a Greek ghost town in Turkey

Close to the Aegean resort town of Fethiye, there's an abandoned village called Kayakoy or Levissi, as Greeks used to call it. Kayakoy was built in the 18th century on the site of the ancient city of Carmylessus. After the nearby town of Fethiye (known as Makri to Greeks) was devastated by an earthquake in 1856, Kayakoy thrived. In 1900 its population was about 10,000, mostly Greek Christians who lived peacefully close to their Turkish neighbors.

It all changed though after the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922. The governments of Greece and Turkey agreed to engage in a compulsory population exchange. With the exchange, about 6,500 Greeks were deported from the area and Kayakoy was left abandoned. Today, the site of the village is a historical monument and serves as a museum. Around 500 houses remain as ruins, including two Greek Orthodox Churches, the most important sights of the ghost town. The willingness of the Turkish government to protect the village came into question recently as a plan to lease the village and open it to construction was announced.