Old Doğanbey                                Population: Six families (2013)

eskidogan1Old name: Domatia

The romantic ruins of Kayaköy, near Fethiye, were already well known even before Louis de Bernieres reinvented the village as Bahçeköy in his wonderful Birds Without Wings

But how many people have heard of the similarly deserted village of Eski Doğanbey, which slumbers virtually forgotten on the south side of the Dilek Peninsula National Park, near Kuşadası, with a spectacular view out over the delta of the Büyük Menderes (Great Meander) river?

If anything these ruins are even more beautiful, with lovely old stone houses tumbling down a hillside disturbed only by the sounds of crickets and birdsong. But behind the silent remains of Eski Doğanbey lies a story as tragic as that of Kayaköy.

Until 1924 this, too, was a village inhabited by “Greeks” who were forced to go and live in Greece in the population exchange following the Turkish War of Independence. But unlike Kayaköy, Eski Doğanbey was then reoccupied by “Turks” coming from Greece.eskidogan2

Until the 1980s the village must have been able to sustain a sizeable population. Certainly it then had a cobbler’s shop where now it can’t even rise to a bakkal. Then the villagers decided that the narrow cobbled streets were ill-fitted to the modern lifestyle and moved out.

There is little specific to do in Eski Doğanbey, although the National Park visitor centre contains stuffed exanples of the animals and birds to be found in the national park including a very fine porcupine. It also contains a skin from an Anatolian leopard, an animal which probably lived in this area into the 1960s.

But wandering amongst the ruins is an absolute delight. The old buildings themselves are unbelievably picturesque, and it’s fun to inspect the unexpectedly abandoned and unrestored modern mosque, then sit beside a stone well beneath a gnarled old olive tree and imagine the long-lost villagers coming to draw water from it. To top it all off, the views out over the delta from the hillside are out of this world.

Inevitably, in the mid-1990s a select band of explorers rediscovered Eski Doğanbey. They are now hard at work restoring and re-inhabiting some of the houses. 

eskidogan3Dilek Peninsula National Park Visitor Centre in old Doğanbey schoolhouseAs of July 2013 there was nowhere to stay in the village, nor yet any shop or cafe, so come prepared with supplies of water etc on hot days. 

The northern side of the Dilek Peninsula is far better known than the south, and it is possible to trek up through a wooded canyon to the small beaches at İçmeler and Aydınlık. 

Alternatively, you can drive west from Eski Doğanbey to Karine at the tip of the peninsula, where a couple of small fish restaurants gaze out to sea with only a handful of isolated buildings for company. 

 Transport info

It is easiest to reach Eski Doğanbey by car, following the signs from Söke to Priene, Miletus and Doğanbey.

There are also infrequent dolmuşes from Söke which will drop you at Eski Doğanbey but rarely seem to continue on to Karine no matter what the price list suggests. Check return times carefully and be aware that you will probably have to walk the one km back down to the tarmacked road rather then being picked up again where you were dropped off (it's a lovely downhill walk from behind the vsiitor centre with the delta view to keep you company all the way. You'll also see a small barrel-roofed chapel standing abandoned in a field).

If you get stuck ask for help at the visitor centre which may be able to organize a "taxi" back to Söke for you. eskidogan4Road down from Eski Doğanbey to main Söke road

Day trip destinations

Dilek Peninsula National Park (north side)





eskidogan5Eski Doğanbey chapel built in 1899







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