Hardly any other town stands for the consequences of the Cyprus conflict as much as Varosha. Since the island split into two parts, the town has been abandoned.
Varosha is a suburb of the city of Famagusta. If you want to fly there, you can find several flights on Skyscanner. The special thing about this area is that it is located on the border between the two states that share the island.
But how could this happen? And do you even have a chance to visit Varosha? You will find out in this article.
Cyprus Ghost Town Varosha – What You Should Know?
Current Situation of Cyprus Ghost Town of Varosha
Cyprus Ghost Town Varosha is located on the outskirts of Famagusta, in the east of the Mediterranean island. Since the division of the country into a Greek-influenced southern part and the northern part with Turkish influences, Varosha has been a restricted military area.
Officially, this area belongs to the Republic of Cyprus, which encompasses the entire island. However, due to the Cyprus conflict, this situation is much more complicated than you thought initially. This is because the north is under the influence of the Turkish government.
Until today, Turkey is the only nation that recognizes the country officially known as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”. This conflict between the north and the south of the country is beyond the scope of this article.
If you are interested in this topic, you can get a detailed insight into Wikipedia’s article about the Cyprus conflict.
History of Varosha Cyprus Ghost Town
The history of the town began in 1956 when Greek migrants moved to this suburb of Famagusta. By 1973, it had a population of about 25,000, most of whom were Cypriot Greeks.
Especially in the 1960s and 1970s, Varosha was known as a popular tourist destination on the island of Cyprus. That’s why you can find several large hotel complexes along the beach there until now.
More than half of the island’s tourism in the Mediterranean Sea took place exactly in this place. In total, there were beds for over 10,000 overnight guests in the accommodations. Thus, Varosha was one of the best beaches in Cyprus.
Takeover by the Turkish Military
Since the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983, there have been plans for this state to resettle Varosha. This subsequently led to a conflict with the UN Security Council. It would prefer to bring the ghost town under the control of the UN.
The Situation Since The 1990s
The northern Cypriot government has been trying to negotiate with the UN since the 1990s. This is primarily the economic sanctions against the annexed north part of the island in the Mediterranean Sea.
In exchange for the states lifting the sanctions, the government, recognized only by Turkey, would like to return Varosha, a Greek Cypriot. However, this has been unsuccessful so far.
As you can see, Northern Cyprus considers the city to be a kind of bargaining chip for a better economic situation. However, there is a problem here: today, it does not have the same significant role for tourism as in the past.
Meanwhile, other cities in Cyprus have taken over the role of tourist centres. In addition, the buildings have been falling into disrepair since the northern Cypriots took over.
Another plan to return the city back to the southern part of Cyprus was the Annan Plan. This is about the reunification of the Mediterranean island. During this, the Greek inhabitants of the south part were to get the city back. However, they voted against it in a referendum in 2004.
Plans to Reopen
In June 2019, the de facto regime of northern Cyprus announced that it plans to reopen the former tourist hotspot. The Turkish government supports this plan.
However, once again, the UN Security Council is opposed because this would contradict the UN resolution. The cost of rebuilding Varosha is estimated at $10 billion.
Some time ago, the government of Northern Cyprus reopened a small part of the Varosha beach to the public. If you want to explore this ghost town on a guided tour, we recommend taking the tour from Paphos.
You can book this full-day tour to this ghost town at Viator; it will cost you about 45 dollars. Part of the guided trip is the city of Famagusta, the city of Varosha and the ruins of Salamis.
You can also visit Famagusta and the abandoned city with a local guide, but it costs significantly more. For up to 4 people, you will have to pay about $360.
Today’s Appearance Of The Cyprus Ghost Town
Simultaneously, nature has retaken over the ghost town. Varosha beach has been one of the most important nesting sites for the endangered green sea turtle for some time now.
Since no one has inhabited the buildings for several decades, no one maintains them. As a result, many of the structures have fallen into disrepair. If you take a guided tour of Varosha, you will see that most of the windows are broken, and the metal is corroded.
Planning a visit to the Cyprus ghost town of Varosha is easier today than in days gone by. This is primarily because it is located on the border area between the northern and southern parts of the island.
Now, the government is once again allowing the public access to a certain area on the beach.
During your visit, you will surely be amazed. Over the last few years, nature has reclaimed large parts of the abandoned settlement. A sight that will take your breath away.
If you want to know more about the northern part of this Mediterranean island, check out our Northern Cyprus Travel Guide.