Ghost town – Verosha in Famagusta (CY)

Ghost Town Verosha, in Famagusta, has been abandoned since 1974. Before it was emptied for people, the city was a modern tourist city and one of the premier holiday destinations in a rapidly growing charter industry. In the 70ties, Famagusta was the most attractive tourist town in Cyprus. Here were large, beautiful and modern hotels where the rich and famous spend their holidays.

View of the abandoned ghost town from the beach

But 15 August 1974 the situation changed in Cyprus. The Turkish army invaded Famagusta and the Greek-Cypriot forces were forced to retreat. The inhabitants of Verosha and the surrounding areas were evacuated south and today many live in temporarily cities that were set up to care for refugees. Many are still waiting to return to their homes. After the occupation the Turks renamed all the town names in the north of Cyprus and gave them Turkish names. And all the churches were turned into mosques.

When I went on holiday to Cyprus, I had the opportunity to participate in a guided trip to Famagusta. It meant that we had to cross the border into the northern part of Cyprus that still is under occupation by the Turks. Until 2004, the border was completely closed, but then an agreement was made so that the border could be crossed again. This sudden decision was made by the Turkish president eventually to improve the relationship to the Greek-Cypriotes. After driving through the UN-controlled border crossing, so-called ‘Checkpoint’, we went to the center of the inhabited part of Famagusta.

Ghost hotels at the beach

Then we went to the part of the beach that is closest to the abandoned town. Military roadblocks, fences and large signs indicated that we were not welcome and photography strictly forbidden. The area is patrolled by guards and no one has access to the town except Turkish military and some UN soldiers. The big derelict tourist hotels are located behind fence like concrete ghosts. A little further back we could see the rusty old tower crane that has been at a standstill in all these years.

The famouse abandoned crane

Crane viewed in the gap between two buildings

Despite the photo ban and a half-hearted attempt by the guides to prevent us from taking pictures, we had to take some anyway of course. There were no guards on watch when I was walking around on the beach. If one is caught taking pictures I have heard that that as a minimum penalty they confiscates the camera – in the worst case, you will be shot. It is probably an attempt to try to hide the misery and how the Turks have ravaged.

Forbidden area, that is clear

After so many years without maintenance, it is natural that the city is slowly falling apart. Part of a hotel that was located up the beach had clearly collapsed already. When we went from the beach I saw several armed guard taking post in the watchtower closest to the beach.

To me, one of the world’s most pointless jobs must be to guard over a deserted town in 35 years. I don’t really understand why it was deserted in the first place and certainly not why the Turks don’t give it back to rightful owners, the Greek-Cypriot.

It is said that there is still a car shop with “new” cars from 1974 in the town. (A picture can be seen here if you have login on 28dagarsenare.se) Even if the Turks probably has removed most of its content, who knows what secrets the town contains?

Aspelia Hotel

Ghost hotels

Partly collapsed hotel

16 comments on “Ghost town – Verosha in Famagusta (CY)
  1. En ting er jo at tyrkerne ikke har åpnet byen å gitt den tilbake, men hvorfor ikke åpnet den å tjent penger på den selv? det er jo flusst av hoteller der som man kunne tjent masse penger på for 20-30 år siden.. Synd at alt bare står der å ikke blir bruk og bare forfaller..

  2. I am a Turkish Cypriot living on the North part of the island and I dont consider myself as ‘Turkish’. Yes the Turkey has invaded the island on 1974. Do you know why? because the greek cypriots has tried to kill all of us ‘ Turkish Cypriots ‘ and to conquer the whole island in order to connect it to Greece. This plan was called ENOSIS. you can google and find more information if you would like.

    Yes the turkish army is still here. Do you think we are happy with their existence in our island? NO ! OF COURSE NOT ! I want them to leave and unite this island and get back to our peaceful days.
    This island used to be a very peaceful place until the religion intervened…

    The reason why its illegal to photograph is same with the reason why you cant see UN camps with google maps. Its just a precaution if someone decides to attack or anything. I am not saying someone will attack one day. Im just saying that its a PRECAUTION !

    Dont write anything offensive about me, my people ( the turkish cypriots ) or the island without the knowledge of any objective history of the island.

    • I totally agree with my Turkish Cypriot friend. I used to live on the Island in Gazi Magusa (Famagusta) for 5 years and I can reconfirm the atrocities made against innocent people specially the children and women by the militant Greek groups. The West is calling Muslims fundamentalist, but one has to consider the term is very old and must be derived from these barbaric armed Greek Cypriot religious groups who bloodshed innocent Muslims in the name of religion.

      If the Turkish armed forces (paratroopers commandos) have not made on the night of the 15th August 1974, there were very few Muslims would have survived then! But I guess it’s all over now and the two communities can live side-by-side in harmony and piece as I’m sure they have learnt a lot with this division!

      Asif ur Rehman
      Pakistan

  3. What a great story, and pictures! and what a wonderful architecture! I never heard about this city. We need to hear both sides of this story. It is exiting to see the unforbidden pictures and it is more exciting to read the testimony of someone living there. Greeting from Argentina

  4. i dont understand why the city is not given back to its rightfull owners. it was very mean and sad of turkey to destroy peoples lives like this, these people not only lost their homes and personal possessions, but they lost their family, their jobs, their income source and businesses. shame on turkey for having been so cruel, moving people into camps, when they had homes. i do not feel that th EU and UN has done anything to find a resolution for the matter. these are modern times and the world should be less tolerant to hostage behavior and actions that impede the human rights of people. the human rights of these people have been greatly compromised and the world just sat and watched, this is so unfair. bloody turks you ought to be very very ashamed of you’ls mean and cruel self:’-((( and these “ghost time explorers” who are just amazed and fascinated about this whole abondonment phenomenon, should consider the story behind the situation before praising and admiring the abandonments. think of how it would feel like had you been forced to live your life as is right now and go start all over again with nothing to salvage. im really now interested in this story anyone with more info please email me at mlindoes@yahoo.com

  5. there is a simple and easy solution to this problem. all turks get out of my country. the killing, rape of thousands of innocent greeks was disgusting and will never be forgotten ever. turks and greeks will NEVER be friends ever, i dont care what people say or think. we are not the same people and never will be. thousands of greek will never forget the day the turks took our freedom and our country. we all know that the turks will not leave because they are just that arrogant. changing of city names and changing churches into mosque just proves the point. i know one turkish person and they believe that they were in the wrong to invade cyprus if only the masses agreed with that. one day we will have our justice until then death to all turks. harsh but the truth.

  6. The Greek people settled Cyprus thousands of years ago. Just because the Ottoman Empire/Turks happened to be the most recent of at least a dozen rulers/conquerors, doesn’t make it any less of a conquering. And, just because the duration of the Ottoman conquest was 3-400 years doesn’t mean it’s okay. Clearly, they’re fed up with being run by other countries.

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