Day 9: Northern Cyprus

Today we crossed the green line and visited the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. On the way, we heard more from our guide, Georgianna, about the details of the invasion and occupation and about how things have changed since 1974. We drove through another British-controlled part of the island to cross the green line, which is not considered a border since the only country that recognizes the northern part as sovereign is Turkey itself. Interestingly, a Turkish Cypriot escort came with us for our time in the Turkish-occupied area. Turkish Cypriots were obliged to move to the north once all the Greek Cypriots were forced to leave; our escort was originally from Paphos. Once we arrived in Famagusta, we went to the deserted part of the city to see what remains after the town was bombed and plundered by the Turkish army back in 1974. It was actually only two years ago that this area was opened to the public (although there’s still security) since the invasion. This was a rather disturbing visit. Every building was dilapidated and empty; some were missing sections due to the bombings. It was additionally heartbreaking to see because Georgianna grew up there, and she could tell us about where she went after school or where she worked one summer, or even the names of the families who owned certain buildings or businesses. One of the most jarring sights of all was the coastline lined with abandoned resort hotels.

Once we left the deserted part of Famagusta, we went into the medieval part of the city. We got to see the medieval walls of Famagusta and the remains of multiple churches and castles that were very impressive. One even had a few cannonballs stuck in the walls! We then had free time to explore and have lunch. We went to a restaurant called Petek that had many different pastries, savory and sweet, in tons of glass cases. I don’t remember what the restaurant had it labeled as, but I got what I think was a boureka– it was feta cheese wrapped in super flaky phyllo dough in the shape of a triangle. It was really good! We then went up some very steep stairs to the top of the medieval walls and took pictures of the fantastic view!

We then left the Turkish-occupied area and went to Protaras Beach, which is pretty much right next to the abandoned resort hotels of the old Famagusta. The water was a little cold but we got used to it. It was beautiful and the water was crystal clear! Afterwards, we visited the Sea Caves and the natural rock bridge. These were so cool to see, and I wish we could’ve gotten a little bit closer. We then came back to Nicosia, where we got dinner and ice cream in the old city!

Abandoned hotels on the shore in Famagusta
Some dilapidated buildings in old Famagusta. You can also see some foundations for buildings that were started but never completed
Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in medieval Famagusta
Protaras Beach
Natural rock bridge

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