Famagusta is not a well-known area. While it used to be a huge place to visit for tourists, it has become a decade and largely forgotten for the last several decades.
So why is Famagusta closed? Roughly 40 years ago, the Greek Cypriot coup occurred, and all of Cyprus fell into chaos. Turkey had to get involved, but that created a whole other problem that was never resolved and involved a lot of bloodsheds.
Turkey took over Famagusta and has no desire to give it back. So, to prevent further chaos, Famagusta was essentially shut down and fenced off. Only the military is there and has been that way for the last 40 years.
Technically, only part of the island is closed off to tourists, Varosha, but most people assume the whole city is closed off.
Will the Place Eventually Open Up Again?
It is unlikely that Famagusta will ever be opened again. However, some people hope that with Covid and the shutdowns, the two opposing sides will start to get along more and come to a compromise.
Forty-six years after the chaos, it is starting to look like it will open up again. They are not yet open to the general public but are making strong steps towards opening it back up. Currently, the main delay seems to be the elections that are coming up.
However, when that is done, they expect it to be soon open to the public. In fact, resorts like Varosha in Famagusta are already making plans to bring in more tourists.
Who Protects Famagusta?
Technically, right now, Famagusta is under Turkish control. They gave the area over to the UN to control and hold onto, but the UN does not operate inside that area. There is a large buffer zone where no one goes, and buildings are falling into disrepair.
The UN and Turkish soldiers are working together to patrol the district, but Famagusta isn’t under anyone’s protection, despite being under Turkish control. Patrols are done via various methods, including food, helicopter, bicycle, and car.
At the moment, it is basically a bargaining chip that hasn’t been used yet. Until the worldwide pandemic happened, no one was sure if the bargaining chip would ever be used again.
Does Wire surround it?
Famagusta is surrounded by barbed wire. This was done to keep people out of Famagusta. Since it was erected rather quickly, barbed wire was the easiest and most effective solution.
Though Turkey technically got control of Famagusta as a result of the war, no one is living in it. Instead, the place sits abandoned after Greeks hastily fled the city when Turkey took control.
Turkey had no desire to keep the city but was using it as a bargaining chip to prevent Greeks from attacking Turkey anymore. This has prevented mass bloodshed from occurring any further but has not stopped the problems.
The Turkish leader had said at the time that no one would again live in Famagusta until the bloodshed and chaos was over, and the two sides got along.
Is Famagusta Greek or Turkish?
If you want to be honest, Famagusta belongs to neither Greece nor Turkey. It is part of the island of Cyprus and should belong to Cyprus. However, that isn’t the way it worked out, and Greece had ownership of Famagusta up until about fifty years ago.
During the chaos, Turkey stole the land as a conquest of war. Though they never occupied it, they still had the right to the land. Turkey doesn’t even really want to own it but sees it as a way to keep the peace until issues can be resolved.
According to the UN, the part of Famagusta that is shut down, Varosha, belongs to the Greeks, but the rest of Famagusta belongs to Turkey.
Is it Worth Visiting to See the Outskirts?
If you are a history or military buff, it is well worth going to see the outskirts. Additionally, if you like the awe-inspiring feeling of looking at old abandoned buildings, you can see a lot of the nearby buildings by walking around the outskirts.
It is a very memorable visit if you are in the area. They have organized tours for about $20. The tours are filled with information, so you get the history of the area and the situation it is currently in.
Most tour guides have lived in the area the whole time, so they have personal and intimate knowledge of how the chaos affected them and other locals. Some of the guides even lived in Famagusta and were forced to evacuate.
Final Thoughts on Why Can’t You Go To Famagusta
Famagusta has a dark, bloody history that, until recently, looked like it might not ever change. No one has lived in the area of Famagusta for almost fifty years now, and it has slowly become abandoned and turned into a ghost town.
Many thought that the city would be left to rot for many more decades before anything was done. However, progress has been made between the two sides, and now it looks like the city might open up again sometime soon.
Whether the resentment and bloodshed are over with, we won’t know, but for those that want to know the history and understand how Famagusta and the chaos affected people, there are tours available along the outskirts until the city opens up again.