Turquoise water, golden beaches, and signs illustrated with a gun-toting soldier that read “Forbidden Zone”: this is the resort town of Varosha.
Since 1974, the northern and southern parts of Cyprus have been divided by the "Green Line," a UN buffer zone that splits the country into the Greek-controlled south and the Turkish-controlled north. The division happened amid much violence: after the Greek military junta backed a coup against the Cypriot government, Turkey invaded Cyprus from the north, forcibly expelling hundreds of thousands of Greek Cypriots and driving them south. Turkish Cypriots in the south abandoned their homes and headed north.
In the early '70s, Famagusta, a town two miles north of the Green Line, was the top tourist destination in Cyprus. Its beachside Varosha quarter, dotted with high-rise hotels, played host to moneyed movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot. In the wake of the Turkish invasion, its 39,000 residents fled, and Varosha became a ghost town. It has remained enclosed in barbed wire, uninhabited, and under the control of the Turkish military ever since.
Just a few feet north of the fenced-off zone is the Arkin Palm Beach Hotel, a newly renovated resort where visitors can sip Caribbean-inspired cocktails beside the lagoon-shaped pool while gazing at the crumbling balconies of the decayed resort next door.
Other abandoned resorts:
View Varosha in a larger map