Abandoned places get our pulses racing, our imaginations firing and stirs a curious mix of disquiet and excitement within our guts. Hiro and I despaired at the garish and frankly tawdry resorts in this part of Turkey and so it was with much relish that we ventured into the abandoned “ghost village” of Kayakoy and we were not disappointed.
Kayakoy was once known as Levissi or Karmylissos and was a thriving vibrant community of around 3,000 Christian Greeks. I can imagine the village bustling with charm on it’s hill top perch but there is a sad tale that haunts this hillside and seems to have played it’s hand in the demise of the village thrice in the history of things.
Kayakoy stands on the site of the ancient city Carmylessus that was ravaged by an an earthquake in 1856 and then by a great fire in 1885. This misfortune didn’t prevent the ever resourceful Greeks from settling here once more.
After the Greco-Turkish war, a “population exchange agreement” between the two countries was enforced in 1923 and so the Greeks were systematically flushed from their homes. The Turkish farmers had no use for the hilltop homes of their once neighbours and so the village was left abandoned with only sadness and an inevitable sense of loss clinging to the crumbling walls.
Nature has laid her claim on the abandoned village and she is thriving in the debris. Trees grow where families once slept. Thorns bite at your ankles as you pass through gaping doorways. The sun dashes through the cobbled alleys and peeks through the myriad of cracks.
The sheer vastness of this site is staggering. I felt emotions stirring as I saw crooked row upon row of roofless homes. Fragments of paint, broken stone ovens forever cold, forgotten memories, like skeletons laid bare on the hilltop.
But Kayokoy is stirring at the edges. Adventurous pioneers are setting up life here once again and now there is a small smattering of creatively positioned restaurants and bars, craft stalls and even a few ambitious houses that incorporate the original walls into their builds. Kayakoy now has a special place in my heart.
Thank you Hiro for the amazing photos.
Black silk playsuit from Kookai
Orange leather sandals from Office.
Kimono style inspired shrug from ASOS.