Archive for the ‘Turkey’ Category

Kayakoy, a ghost town in Turkey

Posted: October 31, 2013 in Turkey

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Kayakoy was an interesting town. Then, in 1923, they came for the Christians and the place collapsed. The whole thing was part of a major arrangement between the governments of Greece and Turkey. The agreement was based in a total population exchange: all Muslims would be expelled from Greek territory and led to Turkey and the Christians living in Turkey would suffer the same fate and would be moved to Greece. It was a mess. For hundreds of thousands it was the end of their worlds. In the end, perhaps it was a good thing. When I think about Yugoslavia in the 90’s I consider the Greek-Turkish agreement as a good thing. A hard way to fix a bad blood issue.

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But in Kayakoy there was no bad blood. Only a peaceful cohabitation between the two communities, each with its role in the town, both working together and living with strong bonds and long friendship. The order came as a lightning. The Muslims left gradually after the Christians were dragged out of Kayakoy, unable to keep their lives without their long time fellows. In the end Kayakoy became a ghost town, despite the efforts of the Turkish government. There was an attempt to populate the place with Muslims coming from Macedonia but they refused to stay, claiming the soil was not convenient for proper farming.

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The place became kind of famous after being the set of the novel Birds Without Wings, by Louis de Bernieres, the same fellow who wrote the books which resulted in the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I read the book and I strongly recommend it.

Nowadays there is a little village attached to the ghost town. It’s a small community, where everybody knows everybody, with many British expats living there. I had the pleasure of spending four days in the house of a friend of mine there and got the feeling of the local community.

There were plans to transform the ruins in a touristic resort but the reaction was so strong that whoever was architecting it, just dropped the idea altogether. In theory there is a ticket office by the entrance of the grounds. Just ignore this. Go around and find another place to enter the town. There are a few, some of them quite obvious and part of several hiking trails. It’s ridiculous. There is no merit. How do they dare to ask money to anyone to enter these grounds? I was in the town four or five times and never paid a cent. Either went before of after the opening times, or entered in other spot.

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Getting to the place couldn’t be any easier. Kayakoy is close to Fethiye, a touristic town built around the British market. From Istanbul a domestic flight to Dalaman – cheap and fast – followed by a convenient shuttle bus connection to Fethiye, from where you can take a local mini-bus or walk – there is a 9 km hiking trail.

 

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