One thing I have discovered about myself through my travelling is my fascination for places that have been abandoned.
I have come across all types of abandoned places in the many random locations I have found myself around the world, wether they be remnants from conflicts or wars, abandoned workplaces such as factories or the empty vestiges left from once-thriving communities.
If I had to put my finger on what sparks such intrigue for these sorts of places, I would have to say its because of the blank canvas that they lay out for my imagination to run free on. Questions and visions run wild each time inside my mind when I’m at places like this. I always find myself asking things like “What was it like in its hey-day?” “ What would it have been like when it came to an end?” “How would I have acted in the surrounding events that lead to its end?” “What can we learn from this?”
On one of my days exploring through Cappadocia, I unexpectedly came across the abandoned village of Cavusin.
This empty ghost village sits on a hillside and resembles a worn down empty scene from the Hobbit. The abandoned village at Cavusin is a physical reminder of one of the travesties of Turkey Independence movement – the expulsion of Turkish Greeks as a result of the official “Population exchange between Greece and Turkey”, a sub order coming from the Treaty of Lausanne.
The Exchange agreement took place in 1923 and saw the upheaval of over 2 million people based on their religious identities. 1.5 million Greeks from Anatolia were uprooted and sent to Greece, while around 500,000 Muslims were expelled from Greece and settled in locations across Turkey.
On a national level, this decision by the powers that be at the time had detrimental effects on the Turkish economy. In a matter of months it had lost a huge portion of its educated work force, something that wasn’t balanced by the half a million Muslim immigrants it received from Greece.
At a micro level, places like Cavusin, which were built over generations, became nothing more than abandoned haunts in an instance.
While the lines have been crossed a bit on why Cavusin was abandoned, one being that the village was relocated by the government due to earthquake and erosion damage to the structural integrity of the village’s buildings, and the other being simply because of the 1923 population exchange agreement.
Today, there is a new Cavusin village just outside the old one, albeit inhabited by Muslim Turks. A short walk from the new Cavusin will have you amongst the Cavusin ruins where you can inspect the arch-dominated structures left by the village’s former Greek inhabitants.
The place makes for some interesting photography to say the least and is nestle amongst some of Cappadocia’s trademark landscape bearing a rich ochre colour.
While the history of Cavusin can be somewhat depressing, it definitely acts as a stark reminder of how ridiculous ethnic prejudice can become when its applied as government policy.
What abandoned places have you been around the world? Have you visited Cavusin in Cappadocia or can you shed a bit more light onto its abandonment? I’d love to hear you feedback below! – Ash.