Varosha has been deserted since the 1970s.
Istanbul CNN  — 

Northern Cyprus says it will soon reopen the derelict district of Varosha, a once popular tourist resort that has remained a ghost town since the Turkish military invasion of the the island decades ago.

The Mediterranean island of Cyprus was divided in two in 1974 when a coup backed by the Greek government was met with a Turkish military invasion, partitioning the country between the Turkish-Cypriot north and Greek-Cypriot south.

For years, the once popular resort of Varosha – an abandoned district of the ancient city of Famagusta – acted as a no-man’s land between the north and the south. Entry to the area, which once attracted guests from around the world, has remained forbidden to the public.

A view of abandoned buildings in Varosha, February 2020.

But now Ersin Tatar, prime minister of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), has announced plans to reopen the town, which once boasted more than 12,000 hotel rooms, and was home to 25,000 residents.

‘Changing tide’

“At this point we are close to the point of starting the reopening process,” Tatar said on Friday, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT.

Famagusta beach filled with swimmers, sailors and police who walk the beach with hands behind them for security reasons, in 1970, Kyrenia, Cyprus.

He said that regulations needed to be passed, and that with elections approaching, plans might be postponed.

But he remained optimistic. “It’s all ready in my opinion,” he added. “The tide has changed and a new page has been turned.”

Referring to the district by its Turkish name, he said: “Maraş is within the territory of the TRNC. Nobody can take it from us. We are continuing on our successful path.”