quinta-feira, 2 de janeiro de 2014

Fethiye/ Kayaköy

On a previous visit to Western Turkey I´d often noticed the abandoned churches and houses in the towns of Cappadocia or Egirdir in the lake distict, and the question of these communities has haunted me since.....what happened to these people, how did they feel having to leave their homes in the 1920´s in the population exchanges? So I was fascinated to read Louis de Berniere´s novel, ´Birds without wings` a few years ago. His book is set in the region of Fethiye, the old Termessos .At the very end of the narrative he walks through the centre musing on the modern tourist town it has become but disquietingly says,´the truly anomolous and remarkable thing about Fethiye,its market and the region of Lycia, is that there are no Greeks`.
Now de Beriere´s novel is based on the little town of Karakoy some 8 km from Fethiye. To get there you take a bus through the ´Full English Breakfast, Fish and Chip` land of Hisronu where after a kilometre the bus lets you off at the´ Greek Village `of  Kayaköy except of course as de Berniere has told us there are no Greeks. The town or what´s left of it rises from the road and covers most of the hillside. Today its ruins have a stern and melancholy feel as abandoned places do but I´ll let de Berniere describe it,......´´ It´s streets were so narrow as to be more like alleyways, but there was no oppressive sense of enclosure since the buildings were stacked up one slope of a valley,so that every dwelling received light and air......there was probably no other place like it.......each habitation had its lower rooms carved directly out of the rock. Those lower rooms were blessedly cool in the summer and in the winter were commonly occupied by animals whose natural warmth eased the chill of the room above which itself was accessible either by a wooden ladder or stairs cut out of the rock.``
The little pathways, you ca´t call them roads wind their way up the townand from time to time break out into grand views across the valley to the sea. Two churches survive, the upper which was closed and deemed to  be unsafe, the lower which was open but also in a bad state of repair. Kayaköy suffered again in the 1950´s when earthquakes destoyed the roofs and the government allowed local  people to salvage \ steal the remaining timbers. Rumors of reconstruction by government or private money circulate but such ideas will probably come to nothing. Who would want to return to this ghost town for no car could navigate its winding and precipitous paths and the donkeys and horses that once climbed its streets have more or less disappeared.
Kayaköy and other christian villages in Western Turkey for christian and greek were interchangeable in the tukish mind were deserted and abandoned with more than a million fleeing to Greece and half that numberof turks arriving in Anatolia. The upheaval was devastating. Modern Turkey has found it difficult to accept the old Ottoman ideal of equality for minorities, sad Karaköy stands as a monument to this failure.

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