News that nature, in the form of trees and plants, is responsible for further weakening the already crumbling ruins of what was once the thriving community of Kayaköy, is the latest public announcement to be made about the town by the local chamber of Architects.

Kayakoy Once a flourishing community

During the Ottoman era and even before, the hillside town was home to a mainly Christian population.

But then, in 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne decreed that they, along with most other Christians, had to leave Turkey and the Muslim population had to leave Greece.

Since then, Levissi, as it was also called, became nothing more than a tragic reminder of a bygone age.

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Some other villages, like Şirince in Izmir province, became home to new families and are continuing to flourish.

Şirince - wikimedia.org
Şirince – wikimedia.org

Kayaköy – An evocative and mysterious character

Apart from a few homes, the majority of Levissi’s properties were never reoccupied and are now abandoned shells, homes to wildlife and the occasional goat or chicken; earthquakes, winter storms, pilfering and sometimes worse have left only the bare bones.

IMG_3683Trees have also taken hold of some of the remaining structures, adding to its evocative and mysterious character.

Kayaköy – Part of its charm or a problem?

While many consider the town’s gradual return to nature part of its charm others, like Fethiye Chamber of Architects member, Hilal Polat, sees this as a major problem for Kayaköy.

For her, the destruction of the environment has had a negative impact on the structures, particularly fig trees, and other invasive plants.

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Kayaköy – Preserving history

Speaking of the situation, she said: “Trees have sprouted and are growing through the walls of the buildings. Initially, the place should be brought under control and then some buildings should be restored and become an open-air museum. Some buildings should not be touched because we need to preserve history,”

She added that the Chamber of Architects think making Kayaköy into a hotel and adding modern infrastructure, like electricity and water, would only increased the damage.

Kayaköy – An open-air museum

Gökhan Güngör, president of the Fethiye Chamber of Architects, said it is hoped that some parts of Kayaköy could be restored while others could be left in their original state with the site being transformed into an open air museum.

He concluded by saying that a sensitive approach could “bring a cultural richness to the region”.

Memorial for a lost community

Although the Christian occupants were made to leave Livissi, he thought, “In memory of these people, parts of the town should not be touched.”

Meanwhile hundreds of new houses in the valley are built, despite a lack of permission, although the Fethiye municipality recently stopped this.

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Furthermore, there is speculation that an official town plan could well be decided later this year.

 

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