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A brief summary

In 1974, a coup backed by the Greek military junta instigated Turkey to invade the nation of Cyprus. They captured almost 40% of the island and displaced its residents, both Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot. 

Varosha, which was once a tourist district in the city of Famagusta on the east coast of Cyprus, was occupied and all its Greek-Cypriot residents fled their homes. Since then, Varosha has been encircled by barbed wire and kept under surveillance by the Turkish military, which uses the territory as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Cyprus government. Its citizens are still forbidden to return. Over the last 39 years, Varosha went from being "Cyprus's Riviera", to a dilapidated ghost city; its former inhabitants watch their houses decay from outside the barricades.  Within Varosha's limits rare sea turtles nest on the beaches, bougainvilleas overtake deteriorating homes, and wild asparagus and prickly pear plants run rampant.

Any reopening of Varosha, if and when that occurs, presents a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and rebuild for a better future. Yet it comes with significant risks. Without careful planning, it could become just another unsustainable development in an already crowded Mediterranean tourism market, while cementing Famagusta as the second divided city in Cyprus.

Rebuilding Varosha in the context of a model ecopolis promotes peaceful coexistence amongst all of Famagusta’s inhabitants, embraces the latest eco­city technologies and thereby becomes a center for peace and sustainability within a troubled region. The Famagusta Ecocity Project aims to ultimately turn all of Famagusta into Europe’s model Ecocity.   The project will be a multi-track approach to environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and peace building.  Those involved will be local and international architects, permaculture designers, economists, business owners, urban planners, horticulturists, engineers, artists, conflict mediation specialists and more.
The aim is the implementation of the Varosha ecopolis and the transformation of Famagusta into a thriving cultural, economic and environmental hub.  Yet, the road is sure to be a bumpy one, after 43 years of separation there will certainly be many obstacles along the way as a result.  And that’s exactly what makes it an interesting film subject.

Waking Famagusta - a documentary

Waking Famagusta is a documentary film (currently in production) by Cypriot-American filmmaker, Vasia Markides, which tells the story of her mother’s birthplace, held captive by Turkish forces for over 40 years, and her team's effort to reclaim and ignite its future through an environmental movement like none other.  Greek and Turkish-Cypriots unite to turn the once thriving historic tourist resort of Famagusta, a city occupied by the Turkish military since 1974, into a thriving ecocity and model for peace, reconciliation and sustainability in the troubled Middle East region.

Waking Famagusta has garnered international attention from news organizations worldwide, including a well-received feature in BBC Magazine along with write-ups on CNN and Al-Jazeera. From local Cypriot city councils to Ivy League classrooms in the U.S., Waking Famagusta has sparked conversation about the way we live and our ever-changing times. The film has shined a bright light on a nearly forgotten ghost-town, weaving its way into on and off peace talks involving Cyprus, Turkey and the UN, which have alluded to the possible return of the abandoned Cypriot district. 

If the island is reunited, Famagustians will be given the right to return home.  When this happens, they will confront one of the largest reconstruction challenges Europe has seen since the end of World War II.  Their rare circumstances also bring with it tremendous opportunity to create a sustainable community post-occupation, and inspire other ailing municipalities to follow their lead.

As such, we aim to complete Waking Famagusta in 2018, in an effort to deliver our message of sustainability, opportunity, and hope in an increasingly grim global climate. 

Contact: Vasia Markides --

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