Kayakoy: The awesome abandoned Greek town in Turkey

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Thanks to a fellow traveler, I learned of the existence of a ghost town perched in the mountains in Turkey, near the Lycian coast.

I immediately added this promised land to my route, imagining myself cutting weeds with a machete before I could pass through.

Hold your horses, Indiana. The place has become already a tourist attraction, and you even have to pay an entrance fee to access the ruins.


But as you can check on the pictures below, it's definitely worth getting lost in what is left of Kayakoy, since it was finally abandoned more than ninety years ago.

The history behind is a fascinating drama, so 20th century: Once upon a time, it was a mainly Greek village in Western Anatolia called Livissi, living in peace with their Turkish neighbors, that called the same village Kayaköy.

But following the Greco-Turkish War, it was decided to separate these communities forever to stop the bloodshed.

Livissi Turkey
After the exchange of population between Greece and Turkey in 1923, the remaining Greek inhabitants from the town that survived were evacuated to the Attica region, near Athens.

The Turkish population from Greece that was assigned to repopulate the area were farmers. They didn't like the houses in the hills without stables, that were designed for traders and craftsmen.

They decided to leave the town, abandoned for a second time. Livissi was built in the 18th century by Greeks fleeing from the pirates that used to ravage the settlements on the coast.

Kayakoy villas
Kayakoy is very close to the coastal town and the pricey villas of Ölüdeniz, a popular tourist destination where streets are filled with hotels and bars.

The main attraction is a famous secluded sandy bay of alluring turquoise colors known as the Blue Lagoon, which once was a sanctuary of hippies.

Kayakoy abandoned
Kaya village is a small bunch of houses scattered at the foot of the ruins of Kayakoy, where you can find some homestays, campings, and bars, that have the flair to cater to independent travelers or backpackers.

Also in high season, you can walk around the ruins not bumping into another tourist for a while.

Kaya village
The Blue Lagoon was lost to mass tourism long ago. However, the ambiance in Kaya village is completely different from its neighbors Fethiye or Ölüdeniz.

Kaya village seems somehow the last bastion. It's like if the old hippie spirit had found refuge in the top of the hills, as did the original Greeks escaping from pirates some centuries ago.

Kayakoy ghost town
Today Kayaköy is also in the news. The Turkish government announced plans to develop the village into a tourist hub.

The idea is to rent a third of the ruins to an investment group for 49 years.

Kayakoy Abandoned Village
Visit Kayakoy before it is too late: This project has been criticized as this could spoil the genuine atmosphere of the place to make room for another fancy shop hotel.

Inside the ruined church
In summer 2014, the two churches of the village were closed to visitors, waiting for restoration works.
Image by Arlen Tees

Greek Ghost Village
The ghost town has been protected since 1988 when a campaign was launched by the Turkish-Greek Friendship Association and architects from Istanbul to register the place as an archaeological conservation area.

Turkey ghost town
The houses began to fall apart very quickly when, after the attempts to inhabit the village with Turks deported from Greece failed, in the 1950s the government decided to make a profit, selling the tiles from the roofs.

The Water Diviner Filming Locations
The book Birds Without Wings by the British writer Louis de Bernières (famous for his novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin), is inspired by the story of Kayakoy.

Also, the town for the 2015 movie The Water Diviner with Russell Crowe was filmed here.

Butterfly Valley Turkey

This is the superb view from the top of the mountains surrounding Kayaköy.

The entrance to Ölüdeniz bay is at the top left, and a bit more far away, the Butterfly Valley.

Gemile Beach
From the top of the town you can follow a trail down to the beach near the small Gemile island, that reminds us of Kyopeli. Just be careful with the modern pirates!


By car if you have one :] The road is very good to rent a moped.

There are frequent and cheap minibusses from Fethiye, and also from Ölüdeniz at least during high season.

Also, there's a section of the famous Lycian way that goes for 8-9km from Fethiye to Kayakoy.

In the other direction, from Kayaköy you can go down until the Blue Lagoon following the coast, or there's another trail heading the hills until Ovacık (Ölüdeniz).

  1. The Turkish people survived the First World War and the Greek occupation of the Anatolia. Turkish people gained independence against UK, France, Italy, Greece. Local Greeks, armed by Greece army and with close cooperation with the Greece Army, were raping, killing, their neighbors. Like Armenians under French support and armed by France. Facts can not change the history but contribute to the history. It was the only and safest way to establish peace, and agreed by both parties, Turkish and Greek government. Both sides, exchanged people really suffered a lot. Turkish descendants were sent to Anatolia, Greek descendants were sent to Greece.

  2. Once more, there are no good or bad sides - every faction behaved like... humans do.
    Thanks a lot Gokhan for your comment, contributing with more details about this interesting story.

  3. Ramon, it's awfully awesome! Your narrated every detail of your travelling experience with soul and compassion. Keep writing the paths of getting along with priceless histories you have gone through!

  4. The Turkish people where nomadic Muslims that invaded Asia Minor after mantzikert at the 11th century. They practiced the Seljuk practice of ethnic cleansing "convert and assimilate, die or get out" that was completed in the 20th century with the 4000000 remaining orthodox in Anatolia (the Byzantine population was max 12000000 including Balkan and Anatolia).An army of jennissaries that they kidnapped and brainwashed terrorized Christians for centuries,with a peak during the genocides of Asia minor! Burned cities and vandalized antiquities to be used for building and war material, the Parthenon was a storage of explosive material and marbles were given away to the British. The genocides of Asia Minor against unarmed populations started way before 1922 .Evidence of starved out, terrorized dead children. Just look up the way Greeks are discriminated in turkey and how the Muslim Turks enjoy equal rights in Greece.We Greeks, Kurds and Armenians know the truth about those nomadic invaders and we all know the same stories ."From 1914 until 1923, Greeks in Thrace and Asia Minor were subject to a campaign including massacres and internal deportations involving death marches. The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) recognizes it as genocide and refers to the campaign as the Greek Genocide.[6]" From official Wikipedia.


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