If you’ve been reading for a while, you might already be aware that I love abandoned places. In the past I have explored abandoned Berlin and last year got to explore the abandoned leper colony in Tenerife. Abandoned places fascinate me and I love watching urban exploration on YouTube. When I researched abandoned locations within Cyprus, one that came up was Varosha, the abandoned holiday resort. The only issue with this is that Varosha is located in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus but I was determined to go. Lucky for me, a trip to Famagusta, the district where Varosha is, was added onto our excursion programme…
We had a very early start, particularly for our day off, but pulled ourselves together knowing that the day would be worth it. Famagusta is at the complete opposite end of the island to Paphos and so we were in for a long drive but the views were scenic, we had a coffee stop along the way and also got to drive through the British army base just before the buffer zone which was interesting. It took us just over two hours to reach the buffer zone where our passports were taken from us for examination before we were allowed to cross over. I didn’t expect it to be so different across the buffer zone but it is pretty much like crossing into another country. I have never been to Turkey before but it had huge Turkish influences and atmosphere, everything was priced in Lira and it just did not feel like this was the same country.
Our first stop was Salamis which are the ruins of an ancient city. We got to see inside of the Roman Baths and gym with it’s ginormous pillars and creepy statues. All statues were missing their heads and this is due to them all being chopped off during an invasion. Salamis also has the largest amphitheatre on the entire island which satisfied the drama geek in me. Salamis Amphitheatre was 1000 times more impressive than the Paphos amphitheatre and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it. Salamis is located on the coast and the guide told us that there are mosaics underneath the sea close to the coast which makes for an interesting snorkel session but sadly, there was no time for that.
Our next stop was Othello’s Tower which is said to be where Shakespeare got his inspiration for the play. The drama geek in me should have reared her head again but she did not because Othello’s Tower was really not that interesting. We had free time in this area where we got lunch at Petek, the food was average but enjoyable enough, it was the patisserie and confectioner next door which would be something to write home about. The most delicious looking cakes and scrumptious looking sweets lined every wall and every cabinet, I have absolutely no idea how we managed to leave without spending a penny.
Then we were onto the main event… a drive through Varosha. Varosha was the most popular tourist resort in Cyprus before the Turkish invasion in 1974. The holiday resort was left completely abandoned and no one but UN soldiers have been allowed to enter the area since. Photography is forbidden (shh!) and also is stopping, you have to continuously drive past but it was said that you could see hotels with bomb craters in the side, brand new hotels which had never been used, children’s toys in gardens and so much more. Let’s say I was disappointed. It started off well when we saw a decaying building in the distance but other than that, you didn’t really get to see too much. The coach drove too fast to take everything in, plus the high fences and overgrown plants covered a lot from view. It was still fascinating but sadly not as I pictured it.
Then that was it, that was our tour of Famagusta and the start of a long drive back. I loved exploring Salamis, was unimpressed by Othello’s Tower and was left disappointed with Varosha. The only reason I would return to Famagusta would be to snorkel the mosaic area near Salamis because Famagusta didn’t grab my attention and I also didn’t like the atmosphere. Never-the-less, it was still an enjoyable day and we had a lovely time exploring a different area of the island, definitely worth a visit but certainly a one time only job.
I attended this excursion free of charge through work. This blog post is not sponsored or endorsed in any way. All opinions are my own and just that: opinions.