In this small rustic area not far from the hustle and bustle of Fethiye. Things and people moved more slowly, no doubt because the tourist season had not yet gained traction or had even started for the year.
Which meant that when we came to the ruins of Kayakoy, no one gave us much thought. One man was getting on with his normal daily activities, with barely a nod of his head towards us as he scooped more straw for the chickens, which run around his feet.
Even the guard dog, wasn’t all that concerned with our arrival as he flicked his tail and opened one eye.
All living a quiet simple life beneath an area soaked in history.
Though I would imagine that this will change when the tourists arrive. I was so happy that we had chosen an out of season to view these ruins with such a sad history. More quiet time to contemplate what had happened there.
It was time to work out how to get closer to those ruins on the hill.
We enquired to see if we needed to pay a fee to enter. The man who had been sorting out his chickens shook his head then pointed to towards path and in broken English mentioned something about going towards a church. Unfortunately for us, it was locked up. We then decided to head around the small narrow dirt path to see where that led us to the ruins. The Squire agreed it was best for him to stay on the flatter parts. So off I went a bit further up the hill.
Wandering around the houses and overgrown fig trees now with spring growth, the goats, and the wild thyme, a bit of research and imagination made this ghost village come alive. With the realisation how much grief lingered intangible between the walls and the sky above of these abandoned homes.
UNESCO has labelled Kayakoy a World Friendship and Peace Village. I suppose it is their way of moving on from its tragic past. As with most historical places, it does help to know a bit of the background to appreciate what lays before you.
At the beginning.
Kayakoy was in full flow, during the beginning of the 19 century with approx 3,500 houses and in 1923 a population of 6,000 people. With schools, churches, shops and business operating in harmony.
Life was good. The village was thriving as a community.
There was a difference in this village more than others. That was the co-existence of Greeks and Turks living side-by-side. This one place was referred to differently by both cultures. Greeks called the village Levissi while the Turks referred to Levissi as Kayakoy.
Kayakoy is what it is known as today.
It was a village of unity where acceptance of other religions and varying ways of schooling were carried out without a second thought. All had a common goal, which of course was to live in harmony, a days work to put food on their table, and, to live each day at a time.
With the First World War and the end of the Ottoman Empire came a major change for the people of Kayakoy. Mostly an adverse effect as it was the start of the ending of this community. With the signing of the Turkish Greek Population Exchange, it put an end to a life that many did not want to be changed. Then the Greek Christian’s were forced to go to the Fethiye harbour for deportation. At the same time, Muslim Turks were being expelled from Greece.
No one was a winner in this exchange.
Sadly many of the returning Turks did not want to settle in the hill village of Kayakoy. Then in the 1950’s an earthquake hit removed any that were there. The combination of historical events forced people to leave their homes. Many lives were changed forever.
As with most conflicts it is the ordinary person who pays the most significant price, and in this community, many had to leave behind not only their homes, they had to say goodbye to their livelihoods, dreams, friends and neighbours.
Unfortunately, the citizens of Kayakoy were pawns in a big game fought by the higher authorities. War tore their village apart, and the same mistake is still being made over and over in today’s world in various villages and countries.
Why don’t we learn from our past?
A few other Turkish historical sites we have visited: