Makri and Livisi of Lycia : twin communities of Asia Minor
Makri and Livisi, known today as Fethiye and Kayaköy respectively, are located on the southwest coast of Turkey – opposite and to the east of the island of Rhodes. They are located in the area of Lycia, which is inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC and have been built on the ruins of the ancient cities of Telmessus and Karmylissos.
In Christian times the Bishop of ” Telmessus and Makri” attended the Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon (451 AD). After the Chalcedon Synod, the “Makri and Livisi” diocese was mentioned again in 1316 showing that the relationship between Makri and Livisi is very old. In 1731 Livisi and Kastelorizo were subjected to the Metropolis of Pisidia.
In later years, the population of Livisi was 328 households in 1835 and gradually increased to reach 726 households in 1886. According to the statistics gathered by the Greek State in 1910, Livisi had 4,450 inhabitants, of which only 450 were Muslims while Makri had 4,785 inhabitants, of whom 2,000 Greeks, 1,500 Ottomans and about 1,285 Jews.
As all testimonies show, Makri was a much younger settlement, a Livisi colony, which began as a merchant post with a small number of warehouses and evolved into a settlement with a port. The settlement developed abruptly after 1840 with the arrival people from the Dodecanese that followed the development of the harbor. Growth attracted many foreigners, as evidenced by the appointment of consular agents in the region, discovering its important products and, above all, the ability to transport through the safe harbor of Makri. In 1851 a devastating earthquake affected the city. In 1878 the discovery and exploitation of chromium mines by Hatzis Nikolaos Louizidis marks the start of a new economic bloom. The modern, european Makri was built after 1886, when a great fire destroyed the city completely, resulting in a rebuilding. At that time the marshes were covered, the waterfront was built, and many of the Livisians settled in Makri. The reconstruction of the city led to a great economic growth. After 1897, however, the Muslim population increased, mainly with the arrival of the Turks from Crete.
In the last years before the 1922 Exodus according to the Ottoman administration Makri was a kaza and seat of the kaymakam. There were the headquarters of the military, the courts and all the public services. The nearest to Makri superior public administration power was the mutasarrıf in Mugla while the governor (vali) was in Smyrna. Livissi administratively belonged to Makri. Livisi was governed by proestoi (Muhtar) who were Christians, appointed by the Turkish authorities but from 1914 Livisi was a separate müdürlük.
testimonies of people of Makri and Livisi, Greek-Orthodox relations with the Ottoman state and Muslims, in the two decades preceding the forced exchange of populations, confirm the pattern that we also find in the testimonies of refugees from other parts of Asia Minor, namely a relatively harmonious symbiosis in 1908, the new hopes born by the Neo-Turkish revolution, the gradual deterioration of relations after 1908 which, after the trauma of the Balkan Wars and the years of World War I, takes the form of organized persecution. The first persecution in 1914 hit both areas and made the writer of the time write: “The stripping of the Asia Minor beaches from the Greek inhabitants could not be completed as long as the communities of Makri and nearby Livisi are standing.”
During the years of the First World War, Makri, like the entire Aegean region, suffered the consequences of both the hostilities and the internal policy of the Ottoman state. The lack of confidence of the Ottoman authorities in non-Muslim nationals and the frequent charges of espionage were among the arguments justifying even the extreme measures imposed by the extraordinary circumstances of the war. In 1916, 1917 and 1918, the measure of displacement was applied in the area of Makri. Valuable information on the conditions and extent of displacements derives from the testimonies of the MacroLivisians.
Immediately after the first World War, like many other communities, the city council of Makri made resolutions on the winning forces, stating its willingness to unite with Greece. Although the Ottoman Empire was in the defeated camp and the Christian population expected the punishment of the war-era government for the organized persecution, after the war, the situation was still unfavorable to Christian populations, as the antagonisms between the Allies, and in particular competition between Italy and Greece complicate the situation. After the end of the war in April, the area from Makri to Antalya was occupied by Italian troops. Italy had openly expressed its claims on the Asia Minor coast and, in particular, after the arrival of the Greek Administration in Smyrna, the Greek- Italian competition was culminating.
Finally, after Kemal Ataturk army conquered Smyrna, all the Greek-Orthodox population was forced to abandon their birthplaces, Makri and Livissi, by the end of 1923.