A Photowalk with the Wikipedia Student Club Through an Abandoned City Frozen in Time

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Imagine a city that was abandoned almost 50 years ago: streets, stores, and structures untouched by the passage of time for 50 long years. It might be hard to believe, but there is such a place: Varosha in Northern Cyprus. It was captured by the Turkish government in 1974 with the “Cyprus Operation” and declared a military forbidden zone. It was impossible to visit the city until some streets were opened to visit in 2017.

An abandoned street in Varosha
An abandoned street in Varosha, Kurmanbek

In September 2023, we established a student club on our campus: Middle East Technical University Northern Cyprus Campus Wikipedia Society. It is a part of Wikipedia Student Clubs Türkiye community, where there are other 3 student clubs in Turkey as of May 2024. Our focus is on engaging university students while also extending a welcome to Cypriot Wikimedians beyond the university.

From the beginning, we wanted to organize a photowalk to Varosha. Since it is a far place to go for students without a car, and there are not many photographs in Wikimedia Commons, we thought it would be a great destination for our very first photowalk. It was both our society’s and my relatively big event. Since we did not have much experience in organizing events, it was a little tough to prepare for the photowalk. However, it went very well; we visited Varosha first and then the walled city of Famagusta.

We explored every accessible spot in Varosha and then walked around the walled city of Famagusta, taking lots of pictures. Everything went smoothly, and we didn’t have any issues. It was a definitely great day, and I want to thank everyone who came along and helped make it such a fantastic photowalk.

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