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Abandoned Village in Turkey

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Originally built in the 1700s, the town called Karmylassos in Greek was home to as many as 20,000 Greek Orthodox residents by the early twentieth century. The messy fallout of World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire led to the land grabs of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922). The resounding loss of the Greeks in this war ended with violence and retribution, which was often aimed at the remaining Greek Orthodox community within the new Turkish borders, and in turn, against the Muslim Turks in Greece. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks fled the violence in Turkey, which led the governments to agree to a mutual compulsory population exchange starting in 1923 in order to staunch the bloodshed.

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According to the of Treaty of Lausanne, all Greek Orthodox inhabitants of Turkey were to be exiled to Greece, while all Muslim inhabitants of Greece were to be exiled to Turkey in return. When the Greek inhabitants of Kayaköy left for Greece, Muslims from Greek Macedonia were settled in their place. However, Macedonians who were used to large and fertile fields in their former land found this hilly and rocky area with little arable land unfit to live, and abandoned the place in favour of other regions. Decades of neglect in addition to the big earthquake of 1957 that shook the region hard has left Kayaköy what it is today. 

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Approximately 3500 homes now sit empty and mostly roofless, along with two Greek Orthodox churches and the fountains and cisterns that watered the city. Harsh winters and strong winds have stripped the buildings down to ruins, making the town look ancient. A private museum tells the story of the town.


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