Waking Famagusta

(formerly known as The Famagusta Ecocity Project)

A ghost city in Cyprus surrounded by barbed wire and armed troops inspires a daughter’s quest to realize her exiled mother’s dream of bringing divided Greek and Turkish Cypriots together to create a model ecocity at the crossroads of three continents.  Can the work of building a shared ecopolis reunite these two communities and inspire the world?

Brief background:

The district of Varosha in the city of Famagusta, is located on the northeastern coast of Cyprus, a divided island. Following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and subsequent evacuation of Famagusta by its Greek-Cypriot residents, the Turkish army surrounded six square kilometers of the Varosha tourist district in barbed wire and has held it as a ghost town since. As the residents fled in haste, they left laundry hanging on the lines and half cooked rice on the stove. Forty-four years later, Varosha remains a shell of a once vibrant community; a mere bargaining chip for Turkey's negotiations with Cyprus. Its crumbling buildings are guarded by armed troops to this day, as its aging citizens continue to await a return home.


Waking Famagusta provides a historic snapshot of one of the most conflict-ridden regions in Europe revealed through a mother-daughter story of ancestral awakening and the birth of an international movement.

In 2003, Vasia Markides, captivated by her mother’s stories of her birthplace, the divided city of Famagusta, on the war-torn Mediterranean island of Cyprus, decides to venture to her maternal ancestral land – a journey that would prove to be life-changing.

Vasia, just 24 at the time, becomes fixated with the ghost town of Varosha, the once booming tourist district of Famagusta, which has been surrounded in barbed wire for 44 years. Motivated by the fact that her family’s home lies trapped within Varosha's rusty fences, she is hooked, filming for over a decade its abandoned neighborhoods and the Turkish Cypriots that now live along its perimeter.  She befriends Ceren Bogac, who grew up facing these abandoned buildings her entire life. Vasia’s own understanding of her island’s history begins to unravel, setting into motion a chain of events that opens the door to an entirely new world, as surprising as it is revolutionary.

Emily, Vasia's mother, overcoming the pain of her loss, dreams to see the city revived as a model of ecology and peace in the troubled region. She manages to capture Vasia's imagination, leading her to pursue her mother’s lifelong dream. Can Vasia, Emily and Ceren forge a new path ahead for the city, the island, and the region, with the motley crew of Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots they have gathered along the way?

If the island is reunited, Famagustians will be given the right to return home. When this happens, they will confront one of the largest reconstruction challenges Europe has seen since the end of World War II.


Waking Famagusta has garnered international attention from news organizations worldwide, including a well-received feature in BBC Magazine along with write-ups on CNN and Al-Jazeera. From local Cypriot city councils to Ivy League classrooms in the U.S., Waking Famagusta has sparked conversation about the way we live and our ever-changing times. The film has shined a bright light on a nearly forgotten ghost-town, weaving its way into on and off peace talks involving Turkey and the UN, which have alluded to the possible return of the abandoned Cypriot district. 

As such, we aim to complete Waking Famagusta in 2018, in an effort to deliver our message of sustainability, opportunity, and hope in an increasingly grim global climate. 

Contact: Vasia Markides


To make a tax-deductable donation to the film, visit: https://www.documentaries.org/waking-famagusta