varosia: caught on camera in a ghost town


Varosia [Varosha or Βαρώσια] was once one of the most popular tourist areas in the region, and a haven for the elite to sun themselves in one of the many hotels in this part of Famagusta in Northern Cyprus.  That is, until 1974.

It was in August of that year that the Turkish forces invaded Cyprus for the second time, responding to a coup attempt by the Greeks.  Consequently, the Greek Cypriot army had to draw back, allowing the Turkish forces to advance.  As the fighting was on its way to Famagusta, every resident of Varosia left in fear that they would be captured or murdered.  The Turks, now in control of Varosia, built a fence around it, and no one except UN personnel and the Turkish military were allowed in from that time on. 

Since then Varosia has become the Chernobyl of Cyprus – something one might find in the series “Life After People.”  Everything is abandoned and left as it was in 1974.  It reminded me of the many Soviet-era construction projects I saw in Armenia that were halted on the day the Soviet Union collapsed and lay exactly as they were at that time.

We had hired a taxi driver to take us around, and while waiting in the taxi station for him to arrive, I noticed a photo on the wall.  This photo was from 1974, when the struggle was new.  Like Varosia, it remains as it was, now yellowing and dusty, a testament to what can happen in times of war.