Famagusta

Everyone knows about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, so if you would like to see a bit of History we would reccommend going to the Famagusta viewpoint situated just 1km from Kennedy Way, which aslo has a small petting zoo. There are organised trips over the border including seeing the once split town of Nicosia. However, please do not venture over by yourselves.

Below is a brief summary of Famagusta History:

After Independence, 1960-1974

From independence in 1960 to the Turkish invasion of 1974, Famagusta flourished both culturally and economically. The town developed toward the south west of Varosha as a tourist center. In the late 1960s Famagusta became one of the world's best-known entertainment and tourist centres. On the one hand there were structures conveying the characteristics of British colonialism, and, on the other hand, buildings reflecting trends in contemporary architecture. These modern buildings were mostly built in Varosha. Architecture in Famagusta in this period thus reflects a desire to merge history and modernism in the pursuit of progress. From its origins as a small port in the seventh century, Famagusta in the 1970s had become a town which now displayed the universal trends of the modern architectural movement.

The contribution of Famagusta to the country's economic activity by 1974 far exceeded its proportional dimensions within the country. Apart from possessing over 50% of the total accommodation of Cyprus it also offered the most substantial deep-water port handling (1973) 83% of the total general cargo and 49% of the total passenger traffic to and from the island. Whilst its population was only about 7% of the total of the country, Famagusta by 1974 accounted for over 10% of the total industrial employment and production of Cyprus, concentrating mainly on light industry compatible with its activity as a tourist resort and turning out high quality products ranging from food, beverages and tobacco to clothing, footwear, plastics, small machinery and transport equipment.

As capital of the largest administrative district of the country, the town was the administrative, commercial, service and cultural centre of that district. The district of Famagusta before the 1974 invasion was characterized by a strong and balanced agricultural economy based on citrus fruits, potatoes, tobacco and wheat. Its agricultural success and the good communications between the town and the district ensured a balanced population spread and economic activity, which could be considered as a model for other developing areas.

It was inevitable that the material progress described above would spawn and sustain the most fertile kind of cultural activity in the area, with Famagusta as its hub and centre. Painting, poetry, music and drama were finding expression in innumerable exhibitions, folk art festivals and plays enacted in the nearby-reconstructed ruins of the ancient Greek theatre of Salamis.

Since 1974

During the second phase of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus of 14 August 1974 the Mesaoria plain was overrun by Turkish tanks and in two days the Turkish Army was in Famagusta. The town had been completely evacuated by its Greek population who fled before the invading army and after the town had been bombed by the Turkish air force.

Unlike other parts of Turkish-controlled Cyprus, the Varosha section of Famagusta was sealed off by the Turkish army immediately after being captured and remains in that state today. The Greek Cypriots who had fled from Varosha were not allowed to return, and journalists are banned. It has been frozen in time with department stores still full of clothes, now many years out of fashion, and hotels empty but still fully equipped. Swedish journalist Jan-Olof Bengtsson, who visited the Swedish UN battalion in Famagusta port and saw the sealed-off part of the town from the battalion's observation post, called the area a 'ghost town'.Turkish Cypriots continue to live north of Varosha, especially in the walled city. These sections of Famagusta remain vibrant with many fascinating buildings. The city is also home to the Eastern Mediterranean University.

The current mayor-in-exile of Famagusta is Alexis Galanos. Oktay Kayalp heads the Turkish-controlled municipal administration. There have been suggestions from the Cypriot Government to transfer Varosha to UN administration, allow the return of the refugees, and open the harbour for use by both communities. However, the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey rejected them. Varosha would have returned to Greek Cypriot control as part of the Annan Plan for Cyprus had the plan not been rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.

The population of the city before 1974 was 39,000. Of this number, 26,500 were Greek Cypriots, 8,500 Turkish Cypriots and 4,000 from other ethnic groups. After the invasion, in 1975, the population was 8,500, all of them Turks. Today the population that lives in the town is 39,000. The number does not include the Greek Cypriot legal inhabitants but the Turkish Cypriots and settlers who live there.

The town also played host to the football clubs Anorthosis, which has many trophies in Cyprus, and Nea Salamina Famagusta. Both teams used until 1974 the stadium of the town, the GSE Stadium (Gymnastic Club Evagoras Stadium) but after the abandonment of the city the teams moved to the town of Larnaca. Both teams have also volleyball sections. Anorthosis has the most trophies in volleyball. Salamina also was until 2003 the concecutive champion of Cyprus for more than 5 years.

Due to its relative isolation and neglect over the past 30 years despite being such a historically and culturally significant city, Famagusta was listed on the World Monuments Fund's 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.