National Geographic reports on Famagusta and the Ecocity Project


"What is Varosha?

It is the carcass of a once glamorous Cypriot city, a beautiful port whose great misfortune was to fall across the old front lines. At its peak, Varosha was a prime European tourist resort. Its chic beaches were lined with sunbathers. Its five-star hotels coddled movie stars such as Sophia Lauren and Paul Newman. The fancy high-rises remain. But they are empty. Pocked by artillery shells, they crumble in the sea air. Their windowless suites are homes to seagulls. The entire sprawling ruin has been declared off-limits by Turkish military authorities. A few swimmers—Turkish Cypriots, mainly—still frequent a slice of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. But they frolic in a graveyard. Behind them tower buildings that appear transplanted from bombed-out Dresden, circa 1945.

Ruha tells me of a plan to revive Europe’s only ghost city.

Greek and Turkish Cypriot activists are collaborating to turn the shell-pocked corpse of Varosha—once home to 25,000 tanned pleasure seekers—into a metropolis of the 21st century: a “green city” that grows its own food, that incorporates ecology into its design, that generates its own power from alternative energy sources. It will be a model of urban renewal and peace building. A university in the United States has drawn up master plan. Funds are being raised.

“We should start this project immediately,” Ruha tells me. “We’re just wasting time. It would be a bridge between north and south. I’m an optimist.” " 

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