Uncover Kayakoy’s mysterious secrets with Turkey sailing
The idea of an abandoned village might sound like something out of the ancient history books but there are actually several such settlements that have been inhabited until fairly recently. One of these is the village of Kayakoy, which is an unmissable destination on any Turkey sailing trip.
Situated near to the coastal town of Fethiye, Kayakoy was built on the site of ancient Lycian village Lebessus, later known in the 18th century as Livissi. Traces of this older civilisation can be seen in the many Lycian tombs that are scattered about the region. It is likely that Livissi was a refuge for those looking to escape the heavy pirate activity around Gemiler Island and it supported a large Greek Orthodox population.
After the First World War and the Greco-Turkish War, this previously peaceful community was sadly torn apart by religious differences. Orthodox Greeks were forced back to the Greek mainland by the 1923 compulsory population exchange and soon after the village was all but abandoned.
The architecture here is largely typically Greek, adding to the quirkiness of this unusual site. There are around 350 stone houses standing empty here, many of which have lost their roofs and become weathered thanks to the coastal winds, making the ruins seem much older than they actually are. The fountains, cisterns and remains of two churches are still remarkably impressive, however, and fans of Louis de Bernières will recognise Kayakoy from the fictional version that appeared in his book Birds Without Wings.
Kayakoy was designated by UNESCO as a peace and friendship village, reminding future generations of the possibilities available when cultural and religious differences can be put aside. In addition to the various preservation measures in place that help to make Kayakoy an interesting tourist attraction, the village is frequently visited by artists hoping to make it a thriving community once more.