The hillside village of Kayaköy, which is located in the western province of Muğla, is set to be revived through restoration works, with the aim being to “pass on the cultural heritage of the district to future generations.”
Kayaköy is located eight kilometers south of Fethiye, and was lived in by Anatolian Greeks until 1923, when the populations of Greece and Turkey were exchanged. The ghost town now consists of hundreds of rundown, but still mostly intact, houses and churches.
A first-degree archaeological site
Muğla Mayor Fatih Şahin said the area was important because Kayaköy had been home to many different civilizations and cultures. It is hoped that with the new restoration works Kayaköy will draw more tourists from all over the world.
According to earlier official statements, the town will be restored and a 300-bed facility will be built there. It is expected to become a very important tourism center as it is already a first degree archeological site, according to Şahin. The houses in the area will be rented for 49 years in accordance with the new project, he said, adding that the Ministry of Finance saw no restriction to doing so.
The district will be revived with both domestic and foreign initiatives, Şahin said.
New cultural events are also planned in the village. Earlier, Louis de Bernières, the author responsible for bringing the story of Kayaköy to an international audience in his novel “Birds Without Wings,” attended the fifth Fethiye Culture and Arts Days in the district. Fans were able to listen to De Bernières talk, read from his book, and answer questions.
De Bernières wrote “Birds Without Wings,” his sixth novel, after visiting Kayaköy nearly 20 years ago.
The town had both Muslim and Greek Orthodox residents until the terms of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty precipitated a massive population exchange between Greece and Turkey in which Muslims from Greece were sent to Turkey and Greek Orthodox Christians from Turkey were sent the other way. With the exchange, the once-thriving town was reduced to a jumble of ruined houses scattered across the hillside.
The area is once again preparing to host de Bernières, Victoria Hislop, Sofka Zinovieff and Jeremy Seal during the upcoming Cultural Connections Festival, which will be held from April 27 to May 3. Several events will be organized for the six-day event, including the chance to watch the acclaimed film “Dedemin İnsanları” (My Grandfather’s People) and to discuss it with its writer and director, Çağan Irmak and its producer, Mustafa Oğuz.
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