This haunting and magical place is the result of the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1924 -- in which the Turkish and Greek minorities in each country were repatriated to their "home countries," despite the incalculable suffering such a drastic uprooting caused. The Turkish village of Kayaköy sprouted up in the valley at the base of the abandoned hillside.
Originally the Lycian city of Karmylassos, the village was reestablished by Greek settlers as Levissi in either the 11th or 14th century. The houses that blanket the hills date to the 19th century. Today Karmylassos is a ghost town, and the remains of the 3,500 identical square stone houses, each positioned to afford the best views of the countryside, take on a haunting pinkish glow at sunset, the best time to visit. Although the churches and chapels have been scavenged in the search for buried sacred treasure, there's still enough of the original structures and ceramic mosaic flooring to make an impression.
At the top of the ghost village, a footpath to Ölüdeniz continues over the hill and through some spectacular scenery. For this hike you'll need a camera, a large bottle of water, and about 2 hours; leave early in the morning to beat the heat and allow an afternoon of recovery on the pearly shores of the Blue Lagoon.
A shorter trail leads to Cold Water Bay, a small cove fed by icy springs, and reachable in under an hour. Be sure not to mistake one trail for the other (one unscrupulous businessman diverted hikers to his restaurant; he's since been incarcerated for tax fraud) -- a mistake easily avoided by picking up a sketch map of the trails at Bülent's Place, located along the Kaya road. Eager to set people on the right path, Bülent has learned the English word for "map," and will be as helpful as he can be.
The turnoff from the Fethiye/Ölüdeniz road travels through the far-from-unspoiled enclave of Hisarönü, affectionately called Hiroshima by the locals who remember its age of innocence. If you follow this road for about 5 or 6.5km (3-4 miles) through the piney woods, the hollow stone houses will alert you to your arrival. A more inspiring entrance can be made by following the signs up and around Fethiye Castle for Kaya Village/Karmylassos. This winding back way leads through the upper edges of picturesque Kaya Valley, and if you're lucky, you'll get a glimpse of the nomad camp.
- © Frommer's 2013
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