Despite the overdevelopment that has taken place in the hills south of Fethiye, notably the mass-market British-orientated resorts of Ovacık and Hisarönü, there are still some notable attractions set in beautifully unspoiled locations. The best of these are the appealingly remote ancient city of Kadyanda, and the abandoned Greek village of Kaya Köyü, which is set in a pretty valley and holds plenty of accommodation options suited to those seeking a peaceful retreat.
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The ruined mountain-top city of Kadyanda, less than an hour’s drive north of Fethiye, dates back at least 2500 years. The attractive village of Üzümlü, 16km north of Fethiye along a broad, well-marked road, makes little of its proximity to the site, other than a basic restaurant opposite the mosque and a low-key trade in its fine dastar cloth.
At the site itself, 9km further by road, an arrow points towards a self-guided loop walking trail. First bear south, past the vaulted tombs of the necropolis, then keep close to bits of the city wall on the left, followed by a climb to a false summit with a long, partly preserved agora, and views of Fethiye. The site’s highlight is at the true highest point: a long, narrow stadium, with seven rows of seats surviving. Steps in the seats climb to a huge jumble of masonry, all that’s left of a temple to an unknown deity. On the opposite side of the stadium stand substantial Roman baths, with their polygonal masonry and entry archway. At the northeast edge of the stadium, a flat expanse is pierced by the mouth of a deep cistern that supplied the city with water – one of many, so beware holes in the ground.
Finally the path angles south to the best-preserved stretch of city wall, punctuated by windows and affording fine views of distant ridges and forested valleys in between. Crossing the top of a square bastion, you look down into the theatre, which retains its rear-facing and stage wall, plus many of its seats – though like most of Kadyanda it’s only partly excavated. The descent to the road completes a leisurely 45-minute walk through superb mountain scenery – good reason enough for a visit.
The atmospheric ghost village of KAYA KÖYÜ, whose Greek Orthodox Christian inhabitants were forced to leave their homes in the compulsory exchange of populations between the newly created Republic of Turkey and Greece in 1923, stands roughly 9km southwest of Fethiye. The roofless remains of the six hundred or so houses that comprised this community of some three thousand souls are arrayed in tiers up a pine-scented hillside. They stand above a pastoral idyll of a valley which has, so far, escaped the excesses of tourist development that have swamped nearby Ovacık and Hisarönü.
While the population of Kaya Köyü, or Levissi as it was known to Greek inhabitants, was being shipped west, Macedonian Muslims were sent to occupy the abandoned buildings. Most choose to emigrate rather than stay, considering the land too poor. Today the local population lives in a couple of hamlets, Keçiler and Kınalı, set in the valley below the ruins.
Although this is fertile farming land, tourism has become increasingly important to the inhabitants of this tranquil spot, and there are a number of attractive places to stay and eat. Clearly the ghost village of Kaya Köyü is the main attraction for most visitors, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied for several days, including a superb half-day walk to Ölüdeniz, horseriding and kayaking. Or you could just relax and read Louis de Bernières’ epic novel Birds Without Wings, much of which is set in Eskibahçe, a thinly disguised Kaya Köyü. Beware, however, as a controversial plan to “restore” some of the village houses, and turn them into holiday homes, resurfaced in 2012.
If you visit Kaya Köyü in high season – July and August – it’s best to start your explorations of this unique place early, both because of the heat and to avoid the tour groups who arrive later in the day from nearby resorts. To get a flavour of the place, it’s enough simply to wander the lichen-crusted cobbled pathways that cut between the derelict houses – most still with their fireplaces, earth-closets and cisterns still intact – and try to imagine the place as it might have been a hundred years ago, with workers on their way home from the fields, or dressing up in their Sunday best, ready for church.
If you want more of a focus, a small, barrel-roofed and whitewashed chapel, clearly visible on a hilltop just above the town, affords splendid views back over the settlement and, in the opposite direction, over the sea.
A more sizeable church dating to 1888, that of Panayia Pyrgiotissa, stands a couple of hundred metres above the road in the west of the village. Its red roof tiles, like those of many other buildings here, were imported from Marseille, a testament to the prosperity of the place prior to the expulsion of its inhabitants. The Taksiarhis church, in the east of the village, was restored in 1910, with a pretty courtyard floored with a black-and-white pebble mosaic.