Sazak Ghost Town - Turkey
The Treaty of Lausanne which marked the end of the Graeco-Turkish war at the start of the 20th century also marked the end of many villages and towns in Greece and Turkey as it paved the way for population exchanges, effectively ethnic cleansing.
Sazak is one of the villages in question when in 1923, the inhabitants were told to pack up just what they could and boarded onto buses and lorries ready to be taken to the border with Greece. Many of the town’s inhabitants exoected their homes to be repopulated with Turks being exiled from Greece. However this failed to materialise, the Turks were moved to refugee camps and then gradually filtered into the main cities for jobs.
Today, Sazak is a ghost town, remaining exactly as it was that day over 85 years ago when the inhabitants bade a tearful farewell to the homes their families had lived in for generations.
The village lies on the Karaburun peninsula, close to the city of Izmir yet the two places couldn’t be more different. Izmir is a thriving cosmopolitan city whilst Sazak sleeps on stuck in time.
Only the occasional tourist ventures to the village, not so much to see its crumbling houses and rusting farm machinery but to walk the spectacular gorges and dizzying heights which make the area popular with hikers. In fact, during the winter the whole peninsula empties as those who depend on the tourist industry retreat to the cities for the quiet season.
Times are changing though and discussions are underway to begin a ferry service to the peninsula from Izmir which is expected to bring about a regeneration of the area. Plans are already in place to renovate buildings in Sazak to provide tourist accommodation. And so it could be that nearly a century after the heyday of the village, life could return.