Photos show a rare glimpse inside Cyprus' little-known "ghost town", a former holiday hot spot haunted by war, writes Chris Dyer for Mail Online

These haunting images give a rare glimpse of the 160-kilometre long demilitarised zone which has split the island of Cyprus for more than half a century.

The eerie photos reveal whole towns hastily abandoned when the buffer zone was created in 1964 to prevent bloody conflict between Turkish and Greece forces.

Last resort: Prior to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus Famagusta was a popular mediterranean tourist destination. Photo / Getty Images
Last resort: Prior to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus Famagusta was a popular mediterranean tourist destination. Photo / Getty Images

Known as the 'Green Line' since a UN general marked it on a map in green pencil - the zone was extended in 1974 after Turkish forces invaded in response to a Greek-backed military coup.

Advertisement

Cyprus has remained divided by its own North Korea-style DMZ ever since, with the northern third inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the rest by Greek Cypriots.

Turkish patrol: Prior to the invasion in 1974, Varosha was one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. Photo / Getty Images
Turkish patrol: Prior to the invasion in 1974, Varosha was one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. Photo / Getty Images

The island's capital Nicosia is split down the middle by the no-man's land - making it the world's last divided capital since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Photographers are rarely-approved access to the uninhabited location, which covers around 134 sq kilometres.

Nicosia is split down the middle by the Greek-Turkish no-man's land. Photo / Getty Images
Nicosia is split down the middle by the Greek-Turkish no-man's land. Photo / Getty Images

At its tightest point is a dusty lane with the crumbling facades of abandoned houses on either side - known as Spear Alley.

The buffer zone narrows to barely more than three metres at this point, and Turkish and Greek soldiers occupied the buildings on either side.

The 15th century Ayios Iakovos church is on the '7 most endangered programme' list by Europa Nostra. Photo / Getty Images
The 15th century Ayios Iakovos church is on the '7 most endangered programme' list by Europa Nostra. Photo / Getty Images

Many objects and buildings lie frozen in time at the date of the 1974 invasion.

Another dilapidated building bears a sign with the words "Annie's House" on it.

Following the 1974 conflict, Annie refused to leave her home when it became part of the buffer zone, and had UN soldiers escort her through check-points to go shopping.

Nature reclaims an abandoned gas station in the Varosha quarter of Famagusta. Photo / Getty Images
Nature reclaims an abandoned gas station in the Varosha quarter of Famagusta. Photo / Getty Images

Many historic structures inside the DMZ, including the 15th century Byzantine Ayios Iakovos church, have been left to fall into increasing states of ruin.

This has led to the buffer zone being included on the "7 most endangered programme" by Europa Nostra, a non-profit organisation that aims to protect Europe's cultural heritage.

Women's clothing magazines is among the items collected by UN Peacekeepers in the DMZ. Photo / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Getty Images
Women's clothing magazines is among the items collected by UN Peacekeepers in the DMZ. Photo / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Getty Images
7UP: Signage and abandoned building remain untouched in the DMZ. Photo / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Getty Images
7UP: Signage and abandoned building remain untouched in the DMZ. Photo / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Getty Images

Whole abandoned planes have been left at Nicosia International Airport, which was the island's main airport until it was subsumed into zone.

Family members of UN Peacekeepers jog past a decaying passenger plane at Nicosia Airport. Photo / Sean Gallup, Getty Images
Family members of UN Peacekeepers jog past a decaying passenger plane at Nicosia Airport. Photo / Sean Gallup, Getty Images

Roman, from Heerlen in the Netherlands, spoke to Mail Online updating the paper on the sad end of the DMZ's last resident: "When UN patrols hadn't noticed any movement in her house, they entered and found she had died.

The Greek Cypriot army stand on the Green Line dividing the capital city Nicosia. Photo / Athanasios Gioumpasis, Getty Images
The Greek Cypriot army stand on the Green Line dividing the capital city Nicosia. Photo / Athanasios Gioumpasis, Getty Images
A Turkish soldier stands guard on one side of the Cypriot 'Green Line'. Photo / Raphael Gaillarde, Getty Images
A Turkish soldier stands guard on one side of the Cypriot 'Green Line'. Photo / Raphael Gaillarde, Getty Images

"Annie's family had broken contact, and she had no-one to arrange her funeral.

"Annie was 90 years old when she died, and UN soldiers paid and arranged her funeral service."

Green Line: Hotels stand beyond the barrier markign Cyprus' 'Forbidden Zone' in Varosha. Photo / Athanasios Gioumpasis, Getty Images
Green Line: Hotels stand beyond the barrier markign Cyprus' 'Forbidden Zone' in Varosha. Photo / Athanasios Gioumpasis, Getty Images
A child swings on a swing in a public park next to a disused UN Peacekeeper watchtower. Photo / Sean Gallup, Getty Images
A child swings on a swing in a public park next to a disused UN Peacekeeper watchtower. Photo / Sean Gallup, Getty Images