Aventura Yachting

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Kayaköy (Ancient Levissi)

Kayaköy (Greek: Λεβισσι, Levissi or Greek: Καρμυλησσός, Karmylissos, although modern English usage seems to be Karmylassos) is a village 8 km south of Fethiye in southwestern Turkey where Anatolian Greek speaking Christians lived until approximately 1923. The ghost town, now preserved as a museum village, consists of hundreds of rundown but still mostly intact Greek-style houses and churches which cover a small mountainside and serve as a stopping place for tourists visiting Fethiye and nearby Ölüdeniz.

From Cold Water Bay a 45 minute walk over a saddle in the mountain behind the bay takes you to the Greek village of Kayaköy, originally called Levissi, that over looks a fertile valley floor.  It is best to do the walk early before the sun rises too high and it gets very hot.  Also early morning mist gives a fabulous scene over the valley.  You can walk through the streets and see hundreds of homes now in ruins.  Then return over the same route back to enjoy a great breakfast at Ali’s restaurant before sailing on.

It was built on the site of the ancient city of Carmylessus in the 18th century. It experienced a renewal after nearby Fethiye (known as Makri) was devastated by an earthquake in 1856 and a major fire in 1885. After the Greco-Turkish War, Kayaköy was largely abandoned after a population exchange agreement was signed by the Turkish and Greek governments in 1923. The Turkish farmers from  Thessaloniki were settled here, but they did not enjoy livng on the sloping terrain and set up home on the adjacent plain.  In this way a ghost town was born.  Many of the buildings were damaged in the 1957 Fethiye earthquake.   There are a considerable number of ruins that show clearly how the Greeks built there homes around 300 years ago.  The most interesting of the ruins is the Greek Orthodox church.  The town inspired the novel “Birds Without Wings”, which focuses on the rise of Turkish patriotism after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire.

Its population in 1900 was about 2,000, almost all Greek Christians; however, it is now empty except for tour groups and roadside vendors selling handmade goods and items scavenged from the former village. However, there are a selection of houses which have been restored, and are currently occupied.

Today Kayaköy village serves as a museum and is a historical monument.  Around 500 houses remain as ruins and are under the protection of the Turkish government, including two Greek Orthodox Churches, which remain the most important sights of the ghost town. There is a private museum on the history of the town. In the middle of the village stands a fountain source from the 17th century. Kayaköy was adopted by  UNESCO as a World Friendship and Peace Village.

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Old cistern - Cold Water Bay