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7 modern-day ghost towns

By: Matt Hickman on June 19, 2013, 5:49 p.m.
Varosha, Northern Cyprus, modern ghost town

Photo: Dickelbers/Wikimedia Commons

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Varosha, Northern Cyprus

Glitz! Glamour! Civil war! Abandonment! That sums up Varosha, a once-ritzy beachfront resort district popular with Elizabeth Taylor and international jet-setters in the Cypriot city of Famagusta. Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, it was deserted by 15,000 residents, enclosed with barbed wire and left to rot.

Filled with “decaying vintage cars and crumbling villas,” the still heavily patrolled quarter of Varosha — or “Ghost City” as it’s commonly called — served as a case study in Alan Weisman’s best-selling, what-would-happen-if-humans-went-away-pondering 2007 tome, “The World Without Us.”

Famagusta resident Okan Dagli describes in a 2012 New York Times article his experiences visiting the forbidden quarter while serving in the Turkish Army: “Everything was looted and crumbling. It was as if time had stopped. It was both very sad and very disturbing.” Dagli adds: “I want Varosha to be a live city — not a ghost city. We have no chance if we remain divided for ever.”