Varosha was once the most precious and developed tourist town in Famagusta, Cyprus. However, since the Turkish army's invasion in 1974, it has transformed into an abandoned ghost town. For years, it remained a forbidden zone protected by Turkish soldiers. However, since 2020, the town has been opened to the public as a "sightseeing" spot, allowing visitors to stroll around or rent a bike to cycle in designated areas. Undoubtedly, one can label it as the "shame of humanity" or an open-air war museum. This emotionally challenging place now hosts plants growing wildly in the displaced people's living rooms or bedrooms. Broken glass and bullet holes decorate the walls of homes and shops that were looted during the invasion.
Esentepe /Αγιοσ Αμβροσιοσ
The village of Agios Amvrosios was originally inhabited by Greek-speaking Cypriots. Following the ceasefire in Cyprus, residents were forced to relocate based on their ethnicity, which had been identified during British colonial times as mainly Turkish/Muslim or Greek/Christian. As a result, Turkish-speaking Cypriots from a village called Aynikola (Agios Nikolaus), located southwest of the island near Paphos, had to settle in Agios Amvrosios, now known as "Ayguruş" among them. Subsequent to failed peace negotiations, the Turkish-speaking community established their own state, the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," supported and recognized by Turkey since 1983. During this period, many villages and cities underwent "rebranding," and Agios Amvrosios was renamed Esentepe (Breezy Hill) in Turkish. Despite its "untold" history, this village, where most of my family still resides and where I grew up, is nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains, offering stunning sunsets and landscapes of the island. The house I grew up in was initially provided to my parents as temporary shelter, with the understanding that it would be so until a peace agreement was signed. However, over half a century of the island's division, it has become their permanent home, even though the original owners who built the house had to leave it behind.
Continuing along an indistinct path, we searched for mushrooms, as I noticed a wall with the structure of a gate which was partially demolished. However, there was a peaceful picturesque scene which didn't last long to be transformed into an image of greed and hatred as we carried on walking between many destroyed graves marked by broken crosses which carries Greek names written on them and dates all before 1974. It was disheartening to think that such hatred or greed could lead to the destruction of a place where people had laid their loved ones to rest with wishes for peace. The initial mixed feelings of shame and disgust evolved into sadness and anger, realizing there wasn't much to be done. Unfortunately, similar conditions seemed prevalent in other villages north of the green line. Upon further research on the subject, I discovered that authorities claimed "Foreigner's Cemeteries" are in such a state because "relatives do not take care of their loved ones' graves," a statement that seemed nothing more than an attempt to avoid responsibility for causing and allowing this situation to persist.
THE NORTHERN SHORE
Besides the common habit among locals of littering waste, Cyprus' shores receive a significant amount of debris through Mediterranean waves from neighboring countries. This fact is easily noticeable by examining items scattered around, displaying labels such as "Made in..." or written texts in Turkish, Greek, Arabic, or Hebrew. Numerous items, particularly those related to emergencies or health, often carry Arabic texts, prompting unavoidable reflections on the thousands of lives lost in the Mediterranean Sea while individuals attempted to escape their war-torn lands over the past decades.