Imagine a resort with golden sand beaches and turquoise water… Sounds dreamy, right? Now imagine all that, but add signs that display an armed soldier that says “Forbidden Zone!”, and you will be looking at the Varosha resort city, which is a ghost town today.
The southern and northern parts of Cyprus are divided by the UN’s buffer zone, the so called “Green Line”. This “line” separates the Turkey controlled north of the country, and the Greece controlled south, and it has been like this since 1974.
The splitting of the country happened after the coup against the Cypriot government, which was led by the Turks. The Turkish occupied the north forced all the Greek people to the south, while the Turks that were living in the south moved north, leaving their homes and everything they owned there.
This brings us to Varosha, the early 70s crème de la crème tourist destination of Cyprus. This resort city was famous for its luxurious hotels, where the world’s biggest movie stars such as Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor stayed. However, after the Turks invaded this part of the country, nearly 40 thousand people that lived in that area fled to safety in the south, leaving the city completely empty and “frozen in time”.
Today, because people who lived and worked there left literally with only the clothes they had on their backs, this resort city is like an enormous museum installation of the lifestyle in the 70’s. However, it is not available for sightseeing because it is surrounded by barbed wire and controlled by the Turkish army ever since the occupation in the 1974. The closest you can get to this ghost city is the Arkin Palm Beach Hotel, which is located just a few feet from the military controlled no-go area.
You can actually gaze at the ghost resort next door, and imagine how it was back then when the city was one of the most famous and most visited resorts in the world.