Brief History

Some ruins of the Lycian settlement called Perdicia, dating back to the fourth century BC, are located just above the Canyon of the Butterfly Valley, and the village named Faralya, which is reminiscent of the ancient times. Presently the village is officially called Uzunyurt. The culture of gardening on terraces built on slopes by the Byzanthian and subsequent Greek settlers in the area was adopted by the Turkish immigrants and is still mainted in our day.
As the valley didn't have any visitors until 1960s, the church on the main street and a few other buildings could be viewed by the villages located above. The citrus fruits of huge dimensions, the fig, mastic, carob, mulberry and other trees typical to the Mediterranean climate, and the huge watermelons which could not be carried by one person alone, grown in the valley are still recalled. The elderly villagers (some of whom may have passed away) recall the mysterious lady named Despina who lived in the valley in their youth, and who climbed up the walls of the canyon carrying heavy bags on her back for the purpose of battering in the villages. Despina was the lady of the one-room house with a fire-place, presently used by the camping operators in the valley. She used to sit on the rock along the shore, watching the sun-set while thinking of her relatives who left their homes during the exchange, or her boy friend who set sail and never returned. Then, one day she suddenly disappeared, and not even her body could be found.

Between 1965-1970, E.E., an agricultural engineer, cut down the huge citrus fruit trees which the villagers described as "thick as a man's waist". These trees were the last representative of traditional gardening culture. Doubtless he intended to replace them with fast-growing, productive types more suitable for industrial agriculture. He had irrigation basis and cement pipes built for this purpose. In those days, Ölüdeniz could be reached only by a tractor. Therefore the farm in the valley was not looked after properly. Thus, only a "ruinous garden" was left behind, devastated by avarice.

Later, a local lawyer Hasan Deniz Bayramoğlu was greatly impressed by the presence of the butterflies living in the valley, locally called "Güdürümsu", and renamed the place "The Butterfly Valley". He set up a camping site and a restaurant in the valley. His intentions were not commercial and directed to tourism. Together with a group of nature-lovers, Hasan Deniz Bayramoğlu and Nezih Topuzlu got organized to protect the valley --the home of Butterflies—its, fauna and flora. Through a concentrated campaign, the group was soon able to attain the attention of the public. They wanted more than the protection of the region by prohibition of constructions. The aim was to establish a center of activities named as active protection areas (comprised of various ideas and moves in harmony with the natural structure)

As years went by, the valley became renowned and was exposed to detrimental effects of mass tourism. However, the protection fight and efforts still continue.

No comments: