If you are the kind of tourist who loves to get off the beaten track, even if it involves a drive up a narrow, steep and twisty mountain road, then take a ride to the abandoned village of Doganbey, about 45 minutes out of Kusadasi,
The village has been compared to an open-air museum. Its pretty tumbledown stone cottages, some renovated as holiday homes, and buildings that include a mosque, enjoy a marvellous setting. All about is eerily silent, though you might hear the sounds of water gurgling through a stream and the gushing of a distant cliffside waterfall – interrupted by birdsong.
Eski Doganbey, to give it its full title, is on the edge of ‘Milli Park’, the national parkland overlooked from Kusadasi Golf & Spa resort. The old road to it from Soke ends suddenly and there it is… surrounded by mountains and with stunning valley views.
A visitor and information centre is open daily from 8.30am to 6pm during the summer. It offers models of houses, a history, stuffed birds and animals, even pottery souvenirs – but exploring the hushed streets and imagining life here is the real magic.
It was once an ancient Greek village called Domatia; that is until the population exchange of the early 1920s when it became Turkish. The Turks moved out around the 1980s, moving away, one suspects, to find more modern and convenient locations.
During the 1990s, the potential for restoring Doganbey buildings, with their historic Greek and Turkish architectural features, as holiday homes began to be realised. Attractively renovated, they are flagged by decorative colourful blooms outside, such as climbing roses.
There are no restaurants or bars, but after exploring the village and perhaps resting by the stone well admiring the views of the Meander River delta as it flows into the Aegean, the nearby bay of Karine has small cafes which serve meals of fresh fish.
This is an experience of authentic Turkey that comparatively few holidaymakers to its popular seaside locations find, although if exploring under your own steam then a visit to Doganbey can be combined with the impressive ruins at Miletus (15km) and Priene (12km).
Doganbey is 34km from Kusadasi Golf & Spa resort.