Living in Fethiye means we are very lucky to have the beautiful village of Kayaköy right on our doorstep – and we try to get up there as often as we can either by dolmuş or by trekking to Kayaköy from Fethiye. The time of year usually dictates which method we choose…
In a past life, Kayaköy has been known as Karmylassos and Levissi and that’s because up until 1923, the area was mainly populated by Greek people. The forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923 meant that Kayaköy became deserted and the ruins remain as a reminder of this sad episode in history.
Many an hour can be spent exploring the ruins – former homes of a sizeable Greek population – of Kayaköy. Huge fireplaces, wells, animal pens and wall decorations can still be seen. However, most people head for the two main churches where frescoes and mosaics are still visible. The bottom church even has some human bones inside as the Greeks took the skulls of their ancestors with them as they left.
We took a friend up there last year and she said it felt really sad; like we shouldn’t be there. That’s the effect that exploring the ruins at Kayaköy can have on you.
Kayaköy is often referred to as the Ghost Village but we don’t like this name. Granted, the deserted ruins stand on a hill, overlooking the whole valley but this valley is very much alive and well and whichever route you choose if you trek from Fethiye to Kayaköy, you will be able to get a good sense of what Kayaköy and the surrounding villages are all about as you wander by.
Head for Kayaköy on a Sunday and the population swells on a dramatic scale as people pack into the many ‘kendin pişir, kendin ye’ restaurants. Kayaköy is a popular choice for Turkish village breakfast and we’ve even seen more tables being put out on the grass behind Bülent’in Yeri so that he can accommodate the hoards looking for a good gözleme – and it is a good gözleme.
There are day trips organised by tour companies that take in Kayaköy but if you want the full experience that Kayaköy provides; melancholy, peace, relaxation, village life, unique eating experiences, then we strongly suggest you make your own way there and take it all in. And if you’re anything like us, you’ll get hooked on the place.
Kayaköy – Useful Information
- The dolmuş from Fethiye to Kayaköy costs 5 TL.
- The route is run by the Ölüdeniz co-op so all dolmuşes are air-conditioned and will have ‘Ölüdeniz’ written across the bonnet in big blue letters.
- Look for the dolmuş with the card in the front window that says Kaya Village on it.
- In season, the dolmuş is every half our, on the hour and the half hour. In winter, it’s every hour on the hour.
- The journey takes about 45 minutes and goes via Ovacık and Hisarönü.
- Entrance to the ruins is 5 TL or free if you are resident and have a müze kart.