A centuries-old village in Turkey’s southwestern province of Muğla’s Fethiye district, Kayaköy, also known as the “Ghost Town” with its abandoned houses, churches and chapels, is going full with international tourists making reservations, especially for the weekends amid the ongoing pandemic.
Situated in the Kaya Valley of the Fethiye peninsula 120 meters above sea level, Kayaköy is a beautiful yet haunting spot for many as it sheds light on a sensitive era of Turkey’s history.
In the 19th century, Kayaköy was a thriving town, where Turkey’s Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians lived together in harmony.
In the aftermath of the defeat in the First World War, the end of the Ottoman Empire and the Greco-Turkish War, all Greek Christians were deported while all Muslim Turks were expelled from Greece in a massive mutual population exchange that took place in 1923.
However, Turks who resettled in the area did not wish to reside in Kayaköy, leading to its abandonment.
Now, it is a deserted village with hundreds of Greek-style homes and churches covering a small mountainside, which have largely been preserved, giving visitors a feeling of time standing still.
The village has become a great tourist attraction and is welcoming a large number of foreign tourists amid the ongoing pandemic, taking them on a historical journey.
Güner Ekiz, 51, who was born and raised in Kayaköy, said that his grandfathers settled in the village at the time of population exchange.
“Because this is a dry region, its economy went weak and there was internal migration after coming here. It’s still a quiet area at the moment. It was completely abandoned after the earthquake in 1957,” Ekiz said while explaining why the village was known as a ghost village.
“During the population exchange, Turks in Thessaloniki came here, and Greeks here were settled in that city,” said Mehmet Aydın, another resident of the town, adding that a large number of tourists show interest in the village, regardless of seasons.
The village became a protected archaeological site in 1988 and has also been adopted by UNESCO as a “World Friendship and Peace Village.”
Today, it is a favorite destination for many who seek a tranquil retreat in the natural surroundings of the ancient town’s ruins, which happen to be situated in one of the most beautiful spots in Turkey.
Ju Garrey, a Japanese tourist who came to the region for a vacation from Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, described Kayaköy as a “magnificent place.”
Lucy Cawel, another tourist who came to the region from France, said she liked the village so much that she would visit it again whenever she gets a chance next time.
Hurriyet Daily News