Nicosia Airport—A Moment Frozen In Time


Poster_HolidayNicosia International airport stands abandoned, frozen in time in no man’s land.

The time is August 17, 1974 and the land is the UN buffer zone in Cyprus. Created after Turkey (in response to a Greek-inspired coup attempt) invaded the island, the buffer zone stretches the breadth of Cyprus dividing it into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north. The buffer zone is  patrolled by UN peacekeepers and caught in its 180 mile strip are villages, farms, cities (including Nicosia, the last divided capital in Europe) and its former airport.

Today the mod 1960s waiting areas and posters advertising the excitement of travel are festooned with 40 years worth of pigeon droppings.

Poster_Around_the_worldThe airport, built in 1968, was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting during the invasion and signs of fighting are still visible—barbed wire enclosures, old bunkers and bullet holes.

On the runway an abandoned Cyprus Airways’ Trident aircraft sits quietly decaying—it was stripped for parts to allow other Tridents to fly out. The tarmac-side parking bay reserved for the US Embassy (the American Ambassador was killed in the US Embassy during the fighting), shows bullet holes and tactical cuts made for firing positions.

Poster_Ends_Of_EarthIn the main terminal, a time capsule of the architecture, advertising and styles of the ’60s and ’70s, a torn poster proudly boasts, “We’ll fly you to the ends of the earth.” The waiting area furniture and colour palettes are “Mad Men” chic recalling a space race era of optimism for the future and air travel.

Airline travel today is stripped of the glamour and promise of adventure offered by the futuristic airport of yesteryear. The jet-setting “Come Fly With Me” era is long gone.

And while we wait and wait in our modern airports, enduring countless delays and frustrations, Nicosia International waits eternally.

Photographer’s note: In some of the interior shots it looks as if the ceiling lights are on. They’re not. These are skylights with the ambient light shining through.


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