Owning a home in no man's land
What was once the booming heart of Cyprus future economy, Varosha proved to be a stark reminded of a country divided by conflict. Varosha forms the southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, and proved to be extremely popular tourist destination during the 1970’s. Ranked as one of the most popular destinations in the world, it attracted celebrities such as Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot.
To cope with this influx of tourism, many new high-rise buildings and hotels were constructed. This new city required support, and by early 1974 the city boasted a population in excess of 39,000.
Then on the 20th of July 1974, the Turkish army invaded the island, forcing the Greek Cypriot army to withdrew its forces to Larnaca. This allowed the Turkish forces to advance, taking control of Varosha. With many fearing the worst, the entire population fled the area. With much of the population shifting to Paralimni, this has now become the modern day capital of the Famagusta province.
Having gained total control of the southern quarter with relative easy, the Turkish forces decide to fence the entire area off in an attempt to dissuade the Greek forces from making a return. The area is completely closed off to the public, with only the Turkish forces and the United Nations personnel allowed inside.
To begin with the people living in Varosha hoped to return to their homes when the situation calmed down, but this never happened. This resulted in the United Nations Security Council ordering the Turkish government to relinquish the area to them. The aim of which was to prevent anyone besides the inhabitants forced out to settle in the unoccupied area. The Turkish government refused to comply, and the area remains a bargaining chip in the hopes they can garner a deal for the Cyprus issue on their terms.
To this day the area remains completely abandoned, with no repairs carried out to the crumbling buildings. As nature continues to reclaim the area its clear the beaches are unlikely to see many tourists in the near future.
Picture by Yolanda Demetriou