Fethiye, Turkey 36 37.468N 29 05.826E

Brian Palmer
Thu 30 Jun 2011 09:41

Kayakoy, Turkey 28th June 2011


SAM_0505.JPGAfter a few days of varnishing Songster’s interior we decided to take ourselves off for the day on a local dolmus to Kayakoy, once known as Levissi,  a deserted Greek village with two large churches and a number of chapels about 30 minutes from Fethiye.


For those who may have read Louis de Bernieres book ‘Birds without winds’ Kayakoy is the town on which is novel is based.


SAM_0513.JPGUp until 1922 approximately 25,000 people lived here in 2,000 Greek houses built on the hillside, each one built so as not to block the view of others.     It was in that year that the British brokered a peace treat as a solution to remaining tensions between the populations.   The Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 agreed an exchange of populations based on religion.   Some 1.2 millions Greek speaking Christians were sent to Greece whilst 400k Turkish speaking Muslims were displaced from the Macedonian region of Greece resettling in Turkey.    Following the treaty many Greeks left voluntarily some to Greece proper whilst others resettled on the small island of Kastelorizon, the eastern most Greek Island just a short distance from the Turkish coast.    It is to Kastelorizon we plan to go in the next few days to renew our Turkish visas.


There had been a Christian settlement in this village since the 13th Century but the majority of the properties there were of a later period.       After the departure of the Greeks the village was repopulated by Turks returning from Greece to Turkey but the majority built homes in the valley in front of the village where there now is a thriving agricultural community of around 2000 with large houses and the latest equipment.


It was a glorious day and being high the temperatures were very acceptable.   We walked and clambered up what were the old narrow streets to the highest point through remains of houses where huge fig trees laden with ripe fruit grew at inaccessible angles, very annoying.   Anything that may have been accessible had been consumed by goats or other animals so the thought of picking fresh ripe figs was not an option.


Although the dolmus was full of noisy tourists just a handful got off in the village and walked the heights the majority thinking it would be too difficult and too strenuous preferring to sit in a bar and drink beer or an alternative.   


Sadly over the years the hillside buildings have deteriorated due to the elements and a massive earthquake back in 1957.      Timbers used on the roofs and doors have long gone, many used by the Turks to help build new homes however it was evident that some of these homes had been quite large and the higher up the hill one went it was clear to see that the more affluent lived in this area.    One of the things we were intrigued with were the different types of fireplaces which had been lovingly built into the corners of rooms although little remained there was just enough to appreciate that these were important status symbols.   


The two remaining churches were in good condition particularly the lower church Panagia Pirgiottis built in the 17th C.    Built with walls at least 1 m thick its murals are in fairly good condition.    The pinky/orange exterior walls glowed in the clear sunlit.     There were many holes in the inner walls, made for a reason other than joists, one was of great interest  as we could hear a group of young fledglings making a huge racket.     The hole was far too high for us to investigate but from the rubbish on the ground below it we thought it must be a large bird as there were dead frogs, very large beetles and other small animals, presumable dropped by a parent bird when feeding the young.      Beside the lower church was the old bone house – bodies were initially buried but because of lack of space were dug up after a few years and the bones washed with wine and then placed in the bone house.   When the Greeks finally left the island many of the bones were gathered up and taken with them but there are still a few SAM_0551.JPGremaining as you can see from the picture.


SAM_0558.JPGWe finally worked our way through the village and down a very steep path stopping to admire the many wild flowers and the remains of the houses where we could see  interior walls had been painted a deep cobalt blue.   Once down at the lower level there were houses that still had shutters and doors in place so we could imagine how the village once looked.   After a great local lunch of village pancakes, a type of large flat wrap filled with fetta cheese, parsley, spinach, onion and tomato we caught the dolmus back to Fethiye.      It was a great day out with a gorgeous drive through the pine covered mountains.


On the way back from the dolmus stop we stopped off at the fish market to buy a couple of sea bass that we bbqd for supper which were delicious.