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Interesting Facts About Varosha: The Abandoned Town of Cyprus

Neha B Deshpande Feb 28, 2020
What if a city, which is full of life, and booming with travel and commercial activity, suddenly freezes? That is what happened with Varosha, a beautiful town in Famagusta, Cyprus, as a result of a Turkish invasion in 1974. This piece tells you what is so special about Varosha, and why it is undisturbed since that fateful day, which turned its face overnight.

Fictional Books based on Turkish Invasion of Famagusta

► The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop
► Daughter of the Winds by Jo Bunt

Let me tell you a story,

Once upon a time, there was a small town located on an island, flanked by nature's beauty. It was always abuzz with life, and was a very popular tourist destination.
One day, a dark magical wave came across the city, and its inhabitants, including the tourists, fled the place, leaving behind their belongings, never to come back.
Life came to a standstill in this town. Today, the buildings there eerily look at each other, clothes hang creepily, and it is the inanimate objects which do all the talking: as if citing the horror tale.
This is a true story of Varosha, once a beautiful tourist attraction located in northern Cyprus, which was abandoned, and today stands as a ghost town. No one is allowed to enter there, and almost none ever dares to. There is no soul in the town to tell its stories of how beautiful and commercially active the city was in earlier times.
It was once a town that served as a holiday destination for the rich, full of grand hotels and hotspots.

But there was no black magical wave that doomed this town. It was a war that led to the fall of Varosha. This is how the beautiful town was jinxed, and it turned from a glamorous town into a ghost town.

Why was the Town of Varosha in Cyprus Abandoned?

✦ Located in Famagusta, northern Cyprus, Varosha was known as a beautiful resort in the world of travel and tourism, with luxurious hotels that were often visited by big names such as Elizabeth Taylor. Today, this deserted town bears testimony to how a war can turn a highly populated town into a creepy one, inhabited by no one at all.
✦ In 1974, a Turkish invasion (known as 'Operation Attila') of Cyprus made the inhabitants flee in a bid to save their lives. It happened without any forewarning, and on July 20, 1974, life came to a standstill for Varosha.
✦ The occupants left their belongings, and they still lie there covered with dust, reflecting history, as to how war can turn life topsy-turvy. Around 39,000 inhabitants fled the town, making human life nil over there.
✦ The locals felt they could return to their hometown after the war was over; however, that has never happened till date.
✦ The buildings stand erect, yet, are deteriorating, and to make it habitable now will require a lot of money and effort. The Turkish army has since been controlling this town.
✦ Since the event, Cyprus has been divided into two sections: the northern third for Turkish Cypriots, and southern two-thirds for Greek Cypriots.

Is Varosha Still Abandoned?

✦ The Turkish army holds possession of the land, and no one is allowed to enter, except the authorities officially allowed to visit. The troops can arrest or execute any person they find, who is not allowed to enter the area.
✦ The United Nations Council Resolution of 1984 has stated that, Varosha be returned to its original inhabitants only. But the Turks are in no mood yet to return this town. Hence, it has been left untouched since 1974, and nature is taking over the area, making it into one creepy city.
✦ Most building structures here are no longer strong enough; however, there has been nothing done to alter the position of this ghost town.
Barbed wires gives a forewarning: no trespassing. However, some photographers have managed to risk their lives and click pictures of the life (rather, still life) in Varosha.

The Future of Varosha

Though speculations are rife about peace negotiations between the Greeks and Turks, the dispute is yet unresolved. Also, demolishing the whole area and rebuilding it to restore its lost glory will require billions of dollars. All its former citizens can do is await some positive developments as far as their dear town is concerned.
In short, the future of Varosha is still unclear, and its past inhabitants are still waiting for something to be done on this front. As of now, Varosha still has a deadly silence, and abandoned, rusted objects look with pity at the plight of mankind.