Friendship trails ceremony of South Korea's Jeju Olle and Turkey's Lycian Way. Photo by CRS Archive
Friendship trails ceremony of South Korea's Jeju Olle and Turkey's Lycian Way. Photo by CRS Archive

An Historical Break on the Lycian Way

Tandem Turkey alumnus from the CRS - Culture Routes Society and Kate Clow (chair person of CRS) offer us a closer look at their project ‘A Historical Break on the Lycian Way: Empowering Village Women Along the Lycian Way in Southern Turkey’.

Hü presented the project at the CREATOUR 2nd International Conference which was held in Braga, Portugal between 7-9 June 2018 on the theme: ‘Emerging and Future Trends in Creative Tourism’. For background information and notes from the previous year’s conference, you might first want to have a look at this story.

A chocolate confection workshop during the conference (Creative and interactive attractions for tourists). Photo: CRS Archive
A chocolate confection workshop during the conference (Creative and interactive attractions for tourists). Photo: CRS Archive

In 2016, the Culture Route Society, which manages walking routes in Turkey, was awarded funds for a project to create women’s cooperative society in two small villages on the existing long-distance walking route – the Lycian Way. The programme is called ‘Future is in Tourism’ and is supported by AnadoluEfes – a Turkish beer company, UNDP and the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The two villages where the project was implemented, are linked by a zigzag Roman road and on a hillside close above the Mediterranean coast. Above is the ancient settlement of Hoyran, which commanded views over the harbor at Andriake / Myra, once home to St Nicholas / Santa Claus; 350m below, on a secondary road running parallel and above the sea, is Kapaklı. Now the villagers make a living from tomato and pepper greenhouses and animal farming. But they remember which herbs and plants they can use and traditional recipes for soups, jams and vegetable dishes.

Upper building, right next to the ancient site of Hoyran. Photo: CRS Archive
Upper building, right next to the ancient site of Hoyran. Photo: CRS Archive

Under the terms of the project, the CRS team has made two small cafes for walkers – one in an old village house, the other below the lower village. Both have cooking and storage facilities, outdoors and indoor seating; the lower one has toilets. The village women can now provide passing trekkers with food and drink, make local produce for sale at the café or in the market or in the nearby town’s museum and tourist centers and prepare handcrafts for sale. Some also want to offer home-stay accommodation; the long-term aim is to restore an old school for groups to use.

The village has just unanimously elected the leaders of the society and agreed a rota to staff the cafes. So far, the men have not objected to the loss of labor in the greenhouses, but everyone expects there will be some family disputes. If the women can prove that they can make money, of course the men will be satisfied – so the women are trying creative ideas for new products and to promote the cafes. The women are keen to move into tourism, which they regard as easier and more satisfying than working with chemical sprays and heavy boxes of tomatoes.

Some women were nervous about their lack of languages; so, from mid-May, two Australian women have volunteered to live in the village and help in the cafes for a month. They taught some simple English, which the villagers would use while welcoming the walkers. They now expect to use the buildings for yoga, photo exhibitions and to hold workshops as well. If this goes well, the CRS want to continue this with other foreign volunteers.

This project has heavily depended on inspired local leadership, so, although there are similar villages along the Lycian Way, and on other Turkish trails, in order to transfer the project knowledge to other villages, the CRS needs to find other good local leaders.

The stages of the project:

1. One project team member named İrem Zararsiz, managed the work with the village women. She visited each family and discussed the project, completing a questionnaire. The women told her their skills and interests and what outcome they would like. The men took a great interest but İrem took care not to let them dominate.

2. A half-built modern structure in the lower village, and an ancient stone house in the upper village (both property of the village or Demre Municipality) were assigned to the project. Süleyman, who is a village resident and had previously built stone houses in the village, began work on the upper building. The project funds were insufficient for the lower building. Barış, CRS’s local representative, encouraged the Mayor of Demre to obtain funds from his political party. So, they contributed basic building work for a modern café building, and the village headman arranged connection of electricity and water.

3. In May-June, Onat, who is a Tourism Management student at the Akdeniz University in Antalya and also a devoted volunteer of CRS, recruited a volunteer group (mainly Europeans); the CRS provided tents, some food, equipment, etc. from project funds. Onat organized 4 weeks work on the Lycian Way, maintaining existing routes and clearing and way-marking some new routes. Their presence made the villagers more familiar and comfortable with foreigners, and the volunteers often ate in the village. Since permission was delayed, work on the conservation area was completed later.

4. The CRS applied to the conservation authorities for permission to construct a small landing stage at the beach. Permission was refused and work on the upper building suspended. They found ancient oil presses close to the building and insisted that the building work was formally approved by an archaeologist; due to the holy month of Ramadan, this approval was delayed. Süleyman managed this building work with laborers from the village. At the end, the landing stage was not built.

5. In the meantime İrem arranged education courses with the local governor. A local tourism guide developed a course, which met the women’s needs and the governor promised that those completing the course would be given a temporary license to open home accommodation. The first session attracted 70 people; the room could only hold 40, so the course was repeated 3 times until 135 people had studied and passed. Later, a visiting teacher gave a handcraft course and advised on things to make.

6. The local Municipality assisted by re-paving the village street and providing traditional wooden seating. In the autumn, they will provide some trees for planting along the road. Although Turks are not well disciplined at community cleanliness, the village is considerably tidier and better looking now.

7. İrem completed the legal foundation of a village society, which would manage the cafes, etc. The documentation took longer that we thought to complete, and Barış and Süleyman took a role in the management until the women gained more experience.

8. Finally, building completed, the women decided what equipment they needed, working with İrem to make lists. İrem arranged purchase and delivery; Süleyman arranged locally-made tables and benches; the CRS donated a sewing machine and fabrics. All the women helped terrace the garden around the café and brought flowers for the terraces. The lower café is now open and the women are using the venue for handcraft classes two evenings per week.

İrem making a survey with the villagers. Photo: CRS Archive
İrem making a survey with the villagers. Photo: CRS Archive

Development steps:

The next step is to make the café better known and established, and to give the women more confidence to run it by themselves. The CRS has developed various connections to make the village known on a world stage. They have signed a protocol twinning this section of the Lycian Way with the Jeju Olle route in Korea; the Korean partners were welcomed and entertained by the villagers.

The CRS has proposed various follow-up activities and sponsorship to the project funders; these are part of a development and marketing plan for the whole area, involving the women, local bureaucrats, the day-boat operators from the harbor near Demre, and travel agencies from the area. Marketing plans include an annual festival; expansion plans include repairing the old school building in Hoyran, in order to provide dormitories and showers for trekkers or youth groups. Local travel agencies are planning cooking/gastronomy courses based on the new cafes.


In Turkey, the history of this type of project is not very promising; many end with the breakup of working groups into rival factions as soon as sponsorship and attention is withdrawn. For this reason, the CRS want to continue to supply volunteer support to the women and run additional education courses in the winter. The CRS is hopeful about the group attitude and, since Barış and his mother regularly report local gossip, will be warned well in advance if things start to go wrong and can take preventative action.

Finally, for those who are interested in implementing similar works, here is what the CRS has learned from the project:
– Apply early for any required permissions;
– Work with other local societies to protect the environment in the long term;
– Use local power networks – Barış and Süleyman’s local contacts were vital to success;
– Assign achievable activities to local authorities (paving the road, assigning a teacher);
– Use volunteers – not just for the work they do but for the cooperation they encourage and the informal publicity they provide;
– Make a plan which extends beyond the term of the project.