Places to visit in Turkey

Lost and Found: The Remarkable Stories Behind Turkey’s Abandoned Sites

Lost and Found: The Remarkable Stories Behind Turkey’s Abandoned Sites

From ancient ruins to modern-day ghost towns, Turkey is home to a plethora of fascinating abandoned sites. Each of these locations carries with it a unique history and story, and exploring them can provide a glimpse into the past and present of Turkey’s cultural landscape.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of Turkey’s most intriguing abandoned sites and dive into the stories behind them.

The Ghost Village of Kayaköy

Located near the southwestern coast of Turkey, Kayaköy is a ghost village that stands testament to the turbulent history of the region. The village was once home to Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians who had lived in the area for hundreds of years. However, after the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, many of the village’s inhabitants were forced to flee to Greece.

After the population exchange of 1923 between Greece and Turkey, Kayaköy was left abandoned. Today, visitors can explore the remains of the village, which includes over 300 empty houses and churches. The haunting atmosphere of Kayaköy has even made it a popular filming location, appearing in movies such as Russell Crowe’s “The Water Diviner.”

The Mysterious Ruins of Ani

In the far eastern corner of Turkey lies the ancient city of Ani. Once a thriving Armenian city, Ani served as the capital of the medieval Bagratid Armenian kingdom from the 10th to 11th centuries. The city was known for its impressive architecture, including numerous churches and a cathedral that stood as one of the largest in the world at the time.

Unfortunately, Ani’s prosperous reign came to an end after a devastating earthquake in 1319. The city was slowly abandoned in the following centuries and was eventually completely deserted. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of Ani, which includes the remnants of numerous churches, palaces, and other buildings.

The Abandoned Military Base of Çimdik

During the height of the Cold War, the Turkish military constructed a secret missile base known as Çimdik. Located in the southeastern corner of the country, the heavily fortified base served as a strategic point in NATO’s defense against the Soviet Union.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Çimdik was no longer needed and was abandoned in the early 1990s. Today, visitors can explore the eerie remains of the base, which include missile silos, barracks, and underground tunnels. Although it was once a heavily guarded military installation, the site now stands silent and empty.

The Forgotten Village of Kuzguncuk

Kuzguncuk is a quiet and charming village located on the Asian side of Istanbul. The village was once a melting pot of cultures, home to Greek, Jewish, Armenian, and Turkish residents. However, during the events leading up to the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, many of the village’s non-Turkish residents were forced to leave.

Today, Kuzguncuk is a forgotten village, largely left behind by Istanbul’s modernization. Visitors can explore the cobblestone streets and historic houses, many of which have remained unchanged for decades. The peaceful atmosphere of Kuzguncuk offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul’s more popular tourist destinations.

The Abandoned City of Tuzla

Tuzla is a city located on the outskirts of Istanbul, known for its salt flats and historical significance. However, in the early 2000s, the city faced a major environmental crisis, as its salt flats and marshes were drained and filled in for commercial development.

As a result, many of Tuzla’s residents were forced to leave, and the city was left largely abandoned. Today, visitors can explore the desolate remains of Tuzla, which include crumbling buildings and empty streets. While the city was once a vibrant hub of activity, its abandonment serves as a stark reminder of the negative impacts of urbanization and development.

Editor Comment:

These abandoned sites not only offer a glimpse into the history and culture of Turkey but also serve as a call to action to protect our environment and cultural heritage. It’s important that we work to preserve these sites for future generations and ensure that they remain a part of Turkey’s rich cultural landscape.


Q: Are these abandoned sites safe to visit?

A: While many of these sites are safe to visit, it’s important to exercise caution and follow safety guidelines. For example, visitors to Çimdik should be aware of unmarked minefields near the site. Visitors to Kayaköy should be careful when exploring the ruins, as some of the buildings are in a state of disrepair.

Q: Do I need permission to visit these sites?

A: It’s always a good idea to check with local authorities or tour companies to ensure that you’re permitted to visit these sites. Some locations may require special permission or guides to enter.

Q: Can I take photos at these sites?

A: Yes, visitors are typically allowed to take photos at these sites. However, it’s important to be respectful of the site and its history, and not to damage any property or artifacts.

Q: Can I visit these sites independently, or do I need to join a tour group?

A: Visitors can usually choose to explore these sites on their own or join a tour group. While a tour group may offer more information and guidance, visiting independently can provide a more personalized experience.

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