Last Updated on: 25th October 2023, 09:07 am

The Kayakoy ghost town is one of the saddest places in Turkey, and maybe in the whole world. This ghost town in Turkey is the result of a post-war population exchange agreement between Greece and Turkey.

Where Is the Abandoned Village of Kayakoy?

Kayakoy, the ghost village that was once bustling with life, is in the Fethyie district of Turkey.

Seeing that hillside covered in still standing ruins, you can’t but imagine long rows of sad people, carrying backpacks and dragging their kids after them, looking down, crying maybe, going to a far away, unknown country, as theirs didn’t want them anymore.

These unfortunate people were only guilty of being Christian-Orthodox by religion, living on a Muslim majority territory.

Kayakoy, Turkey - A hillside covered in ghost houses

Kayakoy, Turkey – A hillside covered in ghost houses

The History of the Ghost City of Kayakoy

Kayakoy was inhabited by Greek Christians until after the Greek-Turkish war, in 1923, when the two governments signed a population exchange agreement, which was in fact a mutual population expulsion based on religious considerations.

The Greeks in Kayakoy packed their bags and went to Greece. They left behind a deserted town, with stone houses and Greek Orthodox churches, abandoned shops, gardens and crops.

It’s hard to say they went “back” to Greece, as they were living together with the Turkish population since centuries and probably didn’t feel any need to go anywhere else. Anyway, the Greeks went away, but their houses were left behind to turn into what is now the ghost city of Kayakoy.

How Did Kayakoy Turn into a Ghost Village?

Actually, in the beginning, some Turks expelled from Greece were relocated here, but they couldn’t get accustomed to the place and left it very soon.

History is sad. Humankind is sad. Back to ancient times, all we read about is how X defeated Y, how villages were burnt, wells poisoned, children and women killed and so on. For each victory celebration, there were victims mourning somewhere. Even “peace” has atrocious implications throughout the history.

The peace that followed World War I chased away peaceful people from their peaceful homes, like those Greeks from Kayakoy.

The ghost town of Kayakoy is now a museum you can visit for a few YTL

The ghost town of Kayakoy is now a museum you can visit for a few YTL

How To Visit Kayakoy

If you happen to be around Fethyie or Oludeniz, go to see it, because it’s well worth it.

If you don’t have a car, you can take a dolmus from Fethyie. The dolmus is a minibus and it’s a very popular public transport means in Turkey. It’s cheap and convenient, however, asking the driver if the dolmus goes to … (fill in the blanks with whatever town you want), some of them will say yes, then go elsewhere, then, when they reach the end of line, they just tell you to get off the bus because that’s as far as it goes.

It only happened to me twice, but I don’t think I used dolmuses more than six times in total, so I don’t know what to say. Just be warned, I guess.

Learn how to say thank you in Turkish language – this could help you get better services and more accurate information.

What Is the Ghost Town of Kayakoy Like?

There’s nothing fabulous about Kayakoy, no amazing architectural works or ruins, however the place transmits a peculiar feeling of catastrophe.

The town is built on a hill side. As you enter the valley, you notice the stone houses, but you don’t necessarily realize there are no people. As you get closer, you suddenly understand: there’s nobody and it has been like this for years. Almost all houses are more or less run down ruins. The most intriguing fact is that there are still pots with flowers by some windows. Maybe some people live there, I don’t know.

Kayakoy house with flowers at the window

Kayakoy house with flowers by the windows

At the bottom of the hill, there’s a huge tree under which you can park your car and go for a walk in the Ghost Town. Before that, you can chill out and have a Turkish coffee in a small restaurant, where you can also read a little bit about the history of the place. The restaurant had a nice terrace, covered with rugs to protect from the terrible heat. There were no other customers, only a lazy cat sleeping away from the sun. It was a nice chill in the air under the cover. Shadow is really effective in Turkey.

The lazy cat of Kayakoy

The lazy cat of Kayakoy – maybe the descendant of cats left behind by those Greeks

Violeta waiting for the gozleme

That’s me waiting for my gozleme and enjoying the cool shadow

The Gozleme restaurant in the valley of Kayakoy

The restaurant in the valley. It was rather small. I imagine it must be busy during peak season. The Fethyie region caters for British people quite heavily, and it shows. There are lots of them and they love taking organized tours.

Turkish woman making Gozleme

Turkish woman preparing gozleme. I think she filled it with cheese and dill. Yum and refreshing. I loved it.

I didn’t miss the opportunity to have gozleme, a traditional Turkish savory pie filled with cheese. You can also have it filled with minced meat. Both variants are delicious. Wherever you see a gozleme stand on the street, there’s a woman, most of the time an old lady, who makes the pies just in front of you. Gozleme is one of my favorite Turkish street foods.

A little bit of Kayakoy's bitter history

A little bit of Kayakoy’s bitter history

I have to say that the apocalypse feeling you get from a distance when you realize you’re approaching a deserted village, fades away when you walk through the streets.

Among deserted and mostly ruined dwellings, there are a few souvenir shops and restaurants. It’s not only hilarious, but it also spoils the “end of time” effect. However, if you are there and you feel the urge of getting some fridge magnets, you can. Even so, the place is definitely worth a half day visit. I’ve been there years ago, so I might not remember very well, but I think we had to pay a small entrance fee to walk through the town. I wanted to visit it the second time, during my stay at Samara All Inclusive Resort Bodrum, but it was a bit too far for a day trip.

Check out my travel blog to read more articles about places I’ve visited.

Violeta Matei