Formally known as Levissi by its former Greek inhabitants, Kayakoy was a city of about 25,000 people in the early 20th century. During the population exchange agreement signed between Turkey and Greece in 1923, the town was then completely abandoned by its Greek residents. With decades of neglect and the big earthquake of 1957, all that is left in Kayakoy is a ghost town. Located on the Fethiye Peninsula, it is an intriguing town to visit should you be in the region. Nominated as a UNESCO World Friendship and Peace Village, non-government organisations have been working to restore its ruins in order to keep it preserved as an historic settlement. This town was also the inspiration for the novel “Birds Without Wings” by Louis de Bernieres.
Things to do in Kayakoy
The main activity and sight in Kayakoy is the ghost town itself. When one wanders the vacant cobbled lanes, there is a feeling of being at an open-air museum. There are about 3500 stone houses and 3 churches that stand on the hillside overlooking a fertile plain. The three churches are known as Yukari Kilise, Asagi Kilise and a little chapel. The little chapel that sits on top of the hill from Asagi Kilise has a stunning view of the valley and the sea, as it faces away from the town. There is also an old fountain by the asphalt road that dates back to 1888. This old village is also a focus of Greco-Turkish reconciliation festivals, with an Orthodox diaspora visiting from Greece. Horseback riding is another popular way of seeing Kayakoy. You can take a horse trail trip from Fethiye to the ghost town. Climb up the hill on foot to see the town up close while the horses rest.
There are several small cafes and eateries around Kayakoy, where traditional Turkish delicacies can be savoured. Make sure to try ‘Atom’, a yoghurt made of hot dried peppers and spicy oil served over fried eggplant and potatoes. Your taste buds will be in utter delight with it. Should prefer hiking around the ghost town, there is also a marked trail to Soguksu Koyu. Heading south of the town you will find pebbled beach cove which is the nearest access to the sea from Kayakoy. Because of the hills that the ghost town leans against, the sea isn’t visible at first.
How to get to Kayakoy
The most convenient way is taking any of the frequent local minibuses from Fethiye or from Oludeniz. Horse riding treks are also available from Fethiye for anyone interested in doing a day trip to the ghost town. Those who fancy long walks can hike from Fethiye by following an eight kilometres long medieval cobbled path through the forest. Around the area of Kayakoy other places of interest are St Nicholas Island, a place believed to be the final resting place for the red-suited man with a jolly laugh. In the same direction is the Afkule Monastery where you can see the impressive sweeping view that extended from the Gulf of Fethiye to Rhodes.