Varosha is an abandoned southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta. Prior to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, it was the modern tourist area of the city. To cater to the increasing number of tourists, many new high-rise buildings and hotels were constructed. During its heyday, Varosha was not only the number one tourist destination in Cyprus, but between 1970 and 1974, it was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and was a favourite destination of celebrities.
When the Turkish Army gained control of the area during the July 1974 invasion, they fenced it off and have since barred admittance to anyone except Turkish military and United Nations personnel. The people living in Varosha hoped to return to their home when the situation calmed down, but the resort was fenced off by the Turkish military. As of 2016, the quarter continues to be uninhabited and is described as a ghost town.
Varosha in its heyday
The UN Security Council Resolution 550 of 1984 ordered for Varosha to be handed over to the administration of the United Nations, and was to be resettled by no other people than the inhabitants who were forced out. The Turkish state did not comply but has held Varosha as a "bargaining chip" ever since in the hope of persuading the people of Cyprus into accepting a settlement of the Cyprus issue on their terms.
One such settlement plan was the Annan Plan, which the vast majority of Greek Cypriots rejected as unfair. It provided for the return of Varosha to the original residents, but this never happened because the plan was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters in a referendum, as the overall plan was considered unacceptable.
Varosha today - crumbling and overgrown
In the absence of human habitation and maintenance, buildings continue to decay. Nature is reclaiming the area, as metal corrodes, windows break, and plants work their roots into the walls and pavement. Sea turtles have been seen nesting on the deserted beaches.