Ghost Town Kayaköy

The deserted Greek town of Kayaköy (Kaya Köyü) at 8 km from Fethiye constitutes, without a doubt, the largest ghost town of Asia minor.

Historical Background

Kayaköy was established near the site of the ancient Lycian city of Karmylassos probably by people that were seeking refuge from the Arab invasions during the 10th and 11th century and was named Livisi (or Levissi). The little town flourished and grew to a population of about 10,000 at the start of the 20th Century. Christian Greeks and Muslim Turks lived here in harmony together with the Turks farming on the floor of the rock (kaya in Turkish) valley and the Greeks as artisans living on the hillside.

During World War I, the town's Greek population, of once 6,500 had already suffered and was significantly reduced. Then in 1923, after the turmoils of the Greco-Turkish war, there was a compulsory population exchange between Greece and Turkey to prevent further bloodshed. And so, Kayaköy's remaining Greek inhabitants were forced to leave their hometown. Most of them moved to the Nea Makri region near Athens, where they founded a new settlement Nea Livisi. The Macedonian Muslims who were supposed to occupy the abandoned village considered the land to poor for farming as compared to their homeland in Macedonia and decided not to stay, leaving Kayaköy as a ghost town. The sad history of Kayaköy/Levissi was the subject of the 2016 documentary Ghosts of Levissi by Joerg Schodl.

The site was threatened by package holiday tourism in 1988. But fortunately, a preservation order was issued to protect the valley. Recently,  the Turkish government has reconsidered development of the village by a private acquisition of the houses and provision of tourist facilities. Concerns are that this could jeopardize the site's authenticity.

Sights & Photos of Kayaköy

Present-day Kayaköy forms a hillside covered with a few thousand ruined buildings of which the most prominent is the Panayia Pyrgiotissa basilica, dating from 1888. An exceptional macabre view near the church is the charnel house which is piled with human leg bones. When the Greek population departed, they took the exhumed skulls of their ancestors with them but left the other remains behind.

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Travel Information & Travel Tips

Kayaköy is easily combined with a visit to Tlos and Kadyanda as a one-day excursion from Fethiye.


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