Nicosia Airport in the UN Buffer Zone of Cyprus

Abandoned Nicosia Airport Has Been Trapped in a DMZ for 40 Years

Abandoned Nicosia Airport Has Been Trapped in a DMZ for 40 Years

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Dec. 19 2014 11:50 AM

Abandoned Nicosia Airport Has Been Trapped in a DMZ for 40 Years

104234019-bird-droppings-cover-seats-in-the-departure-lounge
Bird droppings cover seats in the departure lounge inside the old Nicosia airport terminal building, now located within the UN-controlled buffer zone that separates the Turkish-occupied north from the south of Cyprus.

Photo: MONA BOSHNAQ/AFP/Getty Images

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world’s hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook and Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter.

In August 1974, the UN established a buffer dividing the island of Cyprus into two states: the southern Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey.* The demilitarized zone, established after the Greek military junta backed a coup against the Cypriot government and Turkey invaded Cyprus from the north, is still under UN administration.

When the buffer zone, colloquially known as the Green Line, was demarcated, some of the country’s infrastructure got caught in the middle. One such facility was Nicosia International Airport.

Advertisement

Once the main airport of Cyprus, Nicosia ceased operations in July 1974, shortly after Turkey invaded and the tarmac became a battlefield. Damage to the planes and buildings, combined with ongoing political instability, prevented the aviation hub from re-opening.

Four decades of disuse have resulted in a derelict terminal with broken windows, dust-buried floors, and seats encrusted with layers of pigeon droppings. Tumbleweeds skitter across the tarmac and collide with the sun-bleached shell of a Hawker Siddeley Trident jet, left idle since it was grounded by violence.

Nic6350663
Inside the terminal of Nicosia's abandoned airport.

Photo: Yiannis Kourtoglou/AFP/Getty Images

92330814-picture-shows-the-tarmac-of-the-abandoned-nicosia
UN barrels on the airport tarmac.

Photo: PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images

Nic6350662
Inside the terminal.

Photo: Yiannis Kourtoglou/AFP/Getty Images

104234021-bird-droppings-cover-seats-in-the-departure-lounge
Bird droppings cover seats in the departure lounge inside the old Nicosia airport terminal building.

Photo: MONA BOSHNAQ/AFP/Getty Images

nicosia
The abandoned Hawker Siddeley Trident 2E 5B-DAB on the tarmac.

Photo: Dickelbers/Creative Commons

9593994925_af4394c5c5_k
The buffer zone dividing Greek-controlled Cyprus from Turkish-administered Northern Cyprus.

Photo: Athena Lao/Creative Commons

Other amazing aviation places:

Correction, Dec. 22, 2014: This post originally referred to the two states as "the Greek-controlled south and Turkish-controlled north." It has been updated to more accurately reflect the political division of Cyprus.

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.