Why this tourist destination became ghost town in just one night?

Stunning footage captured by a drone has revealed the shocking decay of a once-thriving beach resort that has been transformed into a ghost town.

In its heyday, Varosha, a suburb of Famagusta, Cyprus, was a glamorous retreat that lured the rich and famous, including Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot, thanks to its idyllic beach and modern amenities.

varoshaBut it was abandoned by its 40,000 inhabitants after the Mediterranean island country was invaded by Turkish troops, who continue to occupy Varosha to this day, following a Greek Cypriot coup in 1974.

Varosha’s untouched beach and crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea look as inviting as ever in the rare drone footage

In the early 1970s, the Varosha quarter of Famagusta was a top tourist destination, with golden sands, hotels and shopping precincts

In the early 1970s, the Varosha quarter of Famagusta was a top tourist destination, with golden sands, hotels and shopping precincts

Now in ruins, former residents and visitors are barred from entering the eerie resort, which is surrounded by a fence that extends into the sea to keep people out.

After decades of neglect, high-rise hotels and apartments, restaurants and residences are crumbling, and the land has been reclaimed by overgrown vegetation, although the untouched beach and crystal-clear water look as inviting as ever.

Hotels with broken windows line the beach, streets are deserted, signs forbid photographs and video footage, and Turkish soldiers stand guard.

The camera-equipped drone hovers over the abandoned suburb, with viewers getting a glimpse of dilapidated high-rises and the fence that separates them from a modern neighbourhood that is still occupied by residents.

The abandoned buildings look faded and worn compared to those on the other side of the fence.

The 1974 war divided the island and peace talks between Cyprus’ Greek and Turkish communities are ongoing, with both sides expressing a desire to return Varosha to its former glory.

There have been a number of proposals to rebuild the ghost town and reopen it to the world, but no work has begun.

Last year, both sides agreed to reopen two checkpoints linking the Greek and Turkish Cypriot halves, including one near Varosha.

In the early 1970s, it was a top tourist destination, with golden sands, high-rise hotels and shopping precincts, frequented by the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.

Today, the streets along one of Famagusta’s beach resorts, in the Varosha quarter, lie eerily silent, and have been for decades.

Varosha has been abandoned since 1974, when its 40,000 residents fled shortly before Greek Cypriot and Turkish troops battled in the streets of Famagusta.

The suburb was seized by Turkish troops, who invaded the island after a brief Greek Cypriot coup, and it is still occupied, even though the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution for it to be handed over to the UN.

Residents have never returned to their homes and very few people have been allowed to enter the fenced-off community.

The invasion resulted in some 37 per cent of the island being captured by Turkish forces.

Measuring more than 100 miles long, a demilitarised UN buffer zone currently cuts across the island country, dividing the Turkish-occupied north from the independent Republic of Cyprus in the south.

This year will mark the 42nd anniversary of the invasion, code-named Operation Attila by Turks who opposed a union with Greece.

Only Turkey recognises the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state that was proclaimed in the north.

Tensions between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots reached a peak in late 1963 when Makarios III, president of Cyprus and archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, proposed constitutional reform.

Around this time, both communities suffered hundreds of casualties during widespread fighting, with hundreds more missing and presumed dead.

UN peacekeepers have patrolled the area for years to try and prevent clashes between the populations of the two halves of the island.

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