Kayaköy, Turkey

Exploring Kayaköy—a ghost town on the Lycian Way

By Sergio Camalich

As I was dusting off my sweater, after falling from a small mound of loose rocks, I looked up at the closed gate and the big blue sign on top of it, blocking the entrance to Taxiarhis—the “Upper Church” of Kayaköy.

“For your own safety, entrance to the building is strictly prohibited.”

“Well,” I thought. “What’s the point of an adventure, if you’re not doing something at least mildly illegal?”

I looked around me to make sure no one was looking and carried on searching for another entrance to the building.

At least now I can tell my grandma I went to great lengths to go to Church.

Taxiarhis, known as the Upper Church of KayaköyLooking at the details on the columns of Taxiarhis Church


My first encounter with the Lycian Way

The Lycian Way it’s a path that crosses the whole southwest coast of Turkey, consisting of Roman roads and foot/animal paths. Although it officially starts in the Ölüdeniz, there’s a small stretch you can take starting in Fethiye.

The Lycian Way from Fethiye to Karaköy

After seeing that the weather was being friendly, I decided to rough it up and follow the nicely marked path that connects Fethiye with Kayaköy.

With less than 9km between each town, it is a fairly easy hike and it took me less than 3 hours to finish.

You’ll come across beautiful views of both Fethiye and Kayaköy plus many other interesting sights, like a small cemetery right in the middle of the way and the occasional herd of goats that will stumble upon you and freeze until you’re at a safe distance from them.

Goats and Lycian rock tombsGoats & Tombs, the musical

Welcome to Kayaköy, population 0

I came across one last town before reaching Kayaköy and as soon as I came close to the first group of empty houses, I couldn’t control myself and started running uphill through the rubble and broken walls.

It’s like an eerie playground for weird grown ups!

The ghost town of KayaköyCome and play, kid!

Hundred of houses stretching across the hills, some in better shape than others but the basic conditions applied to every single one of them: No ceilings, no living person and nature trying to eat its way through them.

Did I said no living person? YES! I had the whole town for me to indulge in. I saw a Korean tourist at some point, but I’m starting to believe he was a ghost.

Kayaköy’s churches

My first stop was the Upper Church, not because I had planned to, but because I just happen to stumble into it.

Completely locked to tourists, I had to find an “alternate” entrance. Not too hard taking into consideration that every single building in town is in very precarious conditions and this church is no exception.

The “Lower Church” is completely gated and was not even able to come close to it.

Detail of TaxiarhisThe ceiling of the church

From the top

There’s a little chapel on top of the closest hill, marking the way into the sea and giving one of the best views from the area.

Laying flat on a rock and with a glorious snack on my han, I had a bird’s eye view of the town and the quietness of it all.

I could’ve stayed there longer, but that beach was calling my name, so it was time to go.

The way to Kayaköy's closes beachSun in the sky, you know how I feel!


More pictures of Kayaköy

Fethiye seen from the Lycian WayView of Fethiye from the Lycian Way Lycian Way path markersLycian Way path marker A cemetery on the road to KayaköyForgotten cemetery on the middle of the road View of the town before KayaköyTown before Kayaköy Taking a rest on the middle of the way.Taking a small break  Abandoned houses in KayaköyAbandoned houses of Kayaköy Chapel on top of the hill of KayaköyChapel on top of the hill More abandoned houses in KayaköyMore abandoned houses Resting on top of the hillResting on top of the hill

Where next?