Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Famagusta look-out in Deryneia, Cyprus

One of the tragedies of Cyprus’ division in 1974 was that so many people had to abandon their homes.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in Famagusta, on the Turkish-controlled northern side of the island.
Before the Greek-sponsored coup and Turkish invasion in 1974, Famagusta was the tourism capital of Cyprus. This can still be seen from the big, run-down hotels around the beaches.
But when the island became divided, most of the Greek Cypriots abandoned their homes. Much of Famagusta was abandoned, and a lot of it – particularly the Varosia area – is now in the UN buffer zone.
It’s still possible to visit what was once a vibrant city, but it’s just as chilling to look out over it from Deryneia on the southern side of the UN’s Atilla Line.
The best viewpoint is in the self-styled ‘Last House in Deryneia’. It’s owned by Annita Georgiou, who has a small shop full of newspaper clippings about the Cyprus Problem.
It’s not difficult to see which side of the fence she falls on – words on the walls refer to a ‘Hitlerite regime’, ‘cultural destruction’ and ‘Turkish terrorists’.
Annita is happy to hand out a pair of binoculars so that visitors can go up to the viewing platform on the roof and look out into the dead zone. Famagusta is an eerie, sorry sight.
Down below, just before the watchtowers and barbed wire, is a slogan painted onto concrete. It says: “If your house was in walking distance, but armed troops restricted your access, would you accept it?”

Getting to Deryneia, Cyprus

Nearest international airport: The main airport on Cyprus is at Larnaca, to the south-west of Deryneia.
Using public transport: A taxi or a hire car is needed, unfortunately.

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