Holiday hotspot that was once popular with Hollywood stars is now a ghost town

A beauty spot once the destination of choice for Hollywood A-listers has now morphed into a grim dark tourism location.

The southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, Varosha was once a place where the likes of Elizabeth Taylor would go on their holidays.

But following northern Cyprus’s invasion by Turkey on July 20, 1974 it went from a place to be to a ghost town.

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An attempted coup from the Greek junta five days before sparked the move, the Turkish forces pouring through the island causing 180,000 Greek Cypriots to leave its northern third.

In their place came Northern Cyprus, a country only Turkey recognises as Turkish nationals settled in the now vacant towns and cities.

But Varosha has been left a ghost town, cordoned off by the military and trapped in history.

Speaking to theExpress, professor of history and international relations at the University of Nicosia Hubert Faustmann said: "Varosha was intended from the beginning as a bargaining chip.

“It was actually offered three times during the negotiations by the Turkish Cypriot side for various concessions, the most common is that they wanted the opening of the Famagusta port, but also of the Ercan airport for international traffic."

Greek Cypriots expect Varosha to be returned to them if a deal with Northern Cyprus is ever reached.

In 2020 Northern Cyprus made a decision to open the town up to tourists once again, but where once the movie star flocked, a new type of tourist came to visit.

Professor Faustmann said: "The section found itself in the top tourist sites in terms of dark tourism, so they started to open up certain parts of Varosha, and it's now a tourist destination with guided tours, with e-bikes, vehicles and coffee shops.

"Varosha is being used as a tourist destination, as a tourist attraction, without a single inhabitant prior to 1974 returning. It's changed in the sense that it's open to the public, but it's not open for return."

Looted shops and ruined buildings make the town more akin to the set of a horror film than a place of neat and tidy resort.

One person who used to live in the quarter, 53-year-old Costantinides previously told theIndependent: "There’s tremendous anger about what has happened here. Turkey has committed a huge crime. Today, we’re living the same crime again.

He added: "It’s as if they’re performing an autopsy and tourists are coming to witness it. It’s a shame, a shame for humanity."

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