29 September 2008

Greek Houses of Foça: still standing after all these years

Turkey once had a substantial population of Greeks. During its final decades, especially after the Balkan Wars, the Ottoman Empire initiated an exchange policy that sent many Anatolian Greeks to Greece in return for the Moslems in Greece and the Balkans. This policy reached its climax in 1922 in the hands of the new Turkish Republic who had emerged victoriously from the Greco-Turkish War and all native Greeks of Turkey except those in a few cities and islands were forced to migrate permanently to Greece.

The buildings left behind by the hastily leaving Greeks still linger on in many places in Turkey. Over at Snapshots from Nemo Ramjet, there are 3 pictures of deserted Greek houses in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. Cappadocia was once a cultural center of the Anatolian Greeks who wrote Turkish, their native language, using Greek letters. This was known as Karamanlica.

Nemo Ramjet's post reminded me of the Greek houses that I had photographed in the summer of 2006 near Foça (ancient Phocaea or Phokaia) in western Turkey.


Foça also had a sizable Greek population that left the area before or after the Greco-Turkish War1.


Some of the Greek houses within Foça have been renovated in recent years and are currently in use. The buildings pictured here are out in the countryside along the road between Foça and Yeni Foça (New Foça) to the north.


Segments of the houses, for example, this window, also provide glimpses of the construction techniques of a bygone era.


1According to a Turkish book I have (Sıtkı Aydınel. 1993. Kuva-yı Milliye Harekatı. Kültür Bakanlığı, Ankara.), by 1917 the non-Moslem population of Foça was down to zero from ~9000 in 1894. The book attributes this drastic decline in population of non-Moslems during the intervening years to the population exchanges that took place after the Balkan Wars. However, I am not entirely comfortable about the reliability or the neutrality of the author of the book. Elsewhere in the book he mentions that at the start of the Greco-Turkish War there was a Greek garrison in Foça, implying that the town may have been one of their entry points to Turkey, the main one being Izmir to the south. This raises the question of whether the Greek army would have picked a town as its beachhead if there were no local Greeks there to provide them with support and supplies.


Duane Smith said...

Are there architectural features that indicate these are Greek houses? Or are they known to be Greek houses from local or not so local memory and/or records of who lived there or of what areas were Greek?


They are known to be Greek houses from local memory. There is some uncertainty, because of that.

They may have architectural features that set them apart from Moslem houses, but I don't if they do & what those features would be. There were also Armenians & Jews in the area.