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Kayaköy - The Greek Left, Nobody Came: A Ghost Village as a Museum

Join us for a visit to a fascinating village, Kayaköy and you will see the remains of what was once a prosperous Greek village that turned into a ghost village after the Turco-Greek exchange of population on 1924.

Although the history of Kayaköy, which is located 8 kilometres south of Fethiye and known as Karmylassos in the Ancient Period, goes back to the 3rd millennium BC, the existing remains of this city do not go beyond the 4th century BC. Today, Kayaköy is an abandoned village and you can truly feel the spooky atmosphere wondering around the nearly four hundred houses respectfully lined up on the hillside.

Afther the East-West Schism with Rome in 1054, the Christian inhabitants of the region were renamed Greek Orthodox Christian. They were subjects of the Muslim Ottoman rulers with whom they lived in harmony from the end of the Ottoman conquest of the region in the 14th century until the early 20th century.

The village experienced a boom after the nearby Fethiye was devastated by an earthquake in 1856 and a major fire in 1885. Some twenty new churches and chapels were built in the village, most of them still standing - you will see the wooden door of the upper church in the Fethiye Museum. The lower church is in a fairly good condition and has some interesting frescoes to see. The fountain In the middle of the village goes back to the seventeenth century.

Following the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 finishing the Greco-Turkish war 1919 - 1922 marking the process ending the multinational Ottoman Empire, a protocol of the Treaty of Lausanne stipulated a population exchange between Greece and Turkey. A protocol of the treaty between the governments of Greece and Turkey concluded on a population exchange to allow the two become nation states as much ethnically homogenous as possible on the basis of the Treaty of Lausanne. According to that treaty, all Greek Orthodox inhabitants of Turkey were to be exiled to Greece, while all Muslim inhabitants of Greece were to be exiled to Turkey in return. The protocol barred permanently the return of any prior Greek Orthodox refugees to their homes in Turkey - including Kayaköy. Interestingly, the criteria for determining who was a Greek or a Turk wasn’t based on ethnicity or language, but solely on religion.

The treaty also required that Muslim citizens in Greece permanently leave Greece for Turkey. Most of these Turkish Muslims were settled in the now empty Greek Christian towns but due to rumours of ghosts of the Greeks killed there, the Muslim Turks did not settle in Kayaköy.

The village is now empty except some roadside vendors selling handmade goods - in lieu of a museum shop! There is no museum café - remember to take a water bottle with you! After your tour, you can find local food and beverage facilities in the village around the museum area.

Kayaköy is presumed to be the inspiration behind "Eskibahçe", the imaginary village chosen by Louis de Bernières as the setting of his 2004 novel Birds Without Wings. In 2014, Kayaköy also took a centre stage in the closing scenes of Russel Crowe’s film The Water Diviner. In Clive Cussler’s novel The Navigator, the characters meet with a sculptor from Kayaköy, who says that he makes figurines that are based on a statue from a Lycian tomb on the Turkish Riviera.

You’ll find a ticket desk at the foot of the hill and you are free to explore the manly trails and building ruins of the village. There is a toilet at the entrance, too. Decent footwear is recommended as the stones can be slippery. Especially in wet weather. There’s quire a bit of climbing and clambering to be done and consequently, the outdoor museum is not suited to visitors in wheelchairs or with a pram.

Muğla Kayaköy Archaeological Site

Kaya Mah, Fethiye


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