Monday, October 3, 2011


In 1923 the Turkish and Greek governments agreed to a mutual population exchange— Christian Turks of Greek origin living in Turkey were forced to relocate to Greece, and Muslim Greeks of Turkish descent were expelled to Turkey. Families and communities were divided as people were driven out of their homes by their governments to countries they had no ties or connections to, other than ancestry and a common religion. Languages had to be learned, and lives dismantled, had to be reconstructed.

Kayaköy, a village about eight kilometres south of Fethiye, crumbles into the soil; the ruins of a Greek community forced to abandon their homes for a foreign land. Hundreds of stone houses and two churches haunt the hillside, remnants of a massive trauma. Most of the houses remained uninhabited once their owners left— Muslim Turkish neighbours would not move into the empty homes, and an earthquake in 1957 damaged many of the structures.

I am deeply touched by the evidence of human hands, the evidence of lives lived and uprooted. The blue paint on so many interiors, the smooth stones arranged in patterns, the blackened wall from where a stove once provided warmth. It aches to imagine their suffering.


lauren said...

Wonderful photos--I don't know why but I have a strange fixation for abandoned places. There's a certain melancholy in the images that is just so beautiful.

szaza said...

Thank you so much, Lauren.
I know precisely what you mean— I have this fixation too, and for places in decay.

annechung said...

I'm into old Byzantine churches and have seen some beautiful ones in Cappadocia and Trabzon and Ani. I love even the faded paint on the walls. I've heard of Kayakoy but hope one day soon will see it.

szaza said...

Hi Anne— I am not sure how I missed your comment, but I do hope you get to Kayaköy soon. It's a very beautiful and interesting place.

I just went to Sümela Monastery in Trabzon, and now I too am hooked on Byzantine churches and iconography. The frescoes are gorgeous, and I do love the faded paint as well. There are some gems in Cappadocia.