14 August 2008


Is it Kayakoy... or perhaps Levissi... Karmylessos...Eskisehir? It is a "ghost town", abandoned in 1923 during a population exchange that was included in the final arrangements for ending the Greco-Turkish War. For hundreds of years there had been intermingling between Turks and Greeks in terms of territory, trade and friendship. You had Turkish communities in Greece and Greek communities in Turkey. Kayakoy was one such community. Its remains lie three miles north of Olu Deniz - over the mountain ridge.

A couple of years ago I read the heart-rending "Birds Without Wings" by Louis de Bernieres. It tells the story of a Greek villageon mainland Turkey before, during and after the Greco-Turkish war. It seems that the novel's fictional village of Eskisehir was partly modelled upon Kayakoy.

I didn't know what to expect when Shirley and I took the dolmus (mini-bus) from Hisaronu, through the pines to the secret Kaya valley. We got off below the old village, paid five lira each to enter the place and wandered freely. Nearly all the roofs have gone. It's as if the place was struck by an earthquake.

As you wander around, it is sometimes difficult to make out where the main village pathways ran and which is a yard and which is a room. Although the site was only abandoned eighty five years ago, it feels as if this happened much earlier.

It is such a sad, sad place which gives testimony to the customarily awful effects of inter-religious bigotry. As you wander around the stones and walls of what was once a happy, thriving community of some thousand households, you can almost hear the singing, the children being called to bed, old men chewing the fat under fig tree shade, young men returning from the marketplace in Fethiye, women comparing fish in baskets - the buzz of a long established Greek community - knitted together and strong - their houses - arranged like an ampitheatre - looking northwards over the Kaya valley - mainly tilled by Turkish farmers with whom - by all accounts - the Greeks lived very harmoniously.

Kayakoy seen from above on my paragliding flight.

If you want to read more details about this weird and moving place try http://www.kayakoy.net/ . Chooses the "English" option and then click Kayakoy in the leftside menu.


  1. There is always such an incredible sadness about abandoned homes isn't there? On this scale I imagine it was a very moving experience (no pun intended).

  2. I read that book too. Religion has a lot to answer for.

  3. And you're so preoccupied that you haven't even mentioned the amazing first game win in the top flight of English football!!!

    Standards are really slipping!!


  4. I read "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" but I struggled with that...except for one of the battle scenes with was terrific. I may give this next book a go...

  5. ...which was....(must learn to read it properly before I post it!)...


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