Eleven weeks ago, the “Ghost Town”, Varosha/Mars opened its gates and doors to the public after it had been closed for 46 years since 1974 and thousands of people descended on the “Ghost Town”. This week I returned for the second time to see how things had changed since the opening.
As soon as I went through the gates, I saw a large van selling drinks and light snacks and about 100 bicycles lined up in rows. The bicycles were for hire at 10TL for the public to ride round the permitted open roads instead of the long walks. The newly tarmacked roads have had cycle lanes painted in white. As I walked around again after 11 weeks, I noticed how tidy the place was, with a group of men going around trimming trees and bushes and tidying up all round. Some of the original large trees have been and are being cut down and lovely new trees being planted along the roadside. New lighting is also being installed.
The plastic tape that was draped along the side of the paths to keep the public from going too near the dangerous buildings has now all been replaced by smart new posts and thick rope along all the roadsides. Seats and benches have been put along the paths for weary walkers to rest on.
I noticed a road sign saying Andreas Demetriou who was a well regarded lawyer who was born in Famagusta in 1950 and was a former Minister of Education and Culture of Cyprus and founding member of Cyprus Academy. The photography shop was owned by another well regarded Famagusta resident named Andreas Soteriou. He was responsible for most of the postcards that the British soldiers sent back to their friends and relations. I enclose two of his photos of Democratias Street showing the building on the right which was the Spitfire Cabaret Club, and my photo taken recently showing one of the few buildings still recognisable. Varosha/Maras is looking very smart and it is quite exciting to see the next steps for this former lovely city and town.