This Airport Was A Bustling Hub Of Activity, But Now Its Abandoned Lounges Are An Explorer’s Dream

Barbed wire, decaying walls and floors filled with pieces of shattered glass – you’d never guess that we’re describing an old airport. But we are indeed, and the sun-kissed site in question is Nicosia International Airport. Given its chilling state, this cavernous building is a goldmine for curious explorers from around the world. So we hope you’re ready for the grand tour!

Located in Nicosia, Cyprus, the airport has been one of the country’s most infamous relics for well over four decades now. The building actually closed its doors way back in 1974. Wow! Mind you, this imposing structure is much older than that, with its origins dating to the late 1930s.

The International Airport was completed in 1939, but it had a very different purpose during that period. With World War Two raging, the space was utilized as an army headquarters for the Allied nations. And it stayed that way until the fighting finished some six years later. So what happened from there?

Well, the airport started to function normally for the next couple of years, before a big moment in 1948. At that stage, four major airlines had agreed to use the Cypriot base as one of their destinations. According to The Daily Telegraph, those companies included Middle East Airlines and the British Overseas Airways Corporation.

So it’s fair to say that things were looking up for Nicosia International Airport after the war. And it only got better towards the end of the 1960s, with Cyprus now an independent nation. At that point, a brand-new terminal building was erected, boasting “modern” services. The outlay reached more than $1.4 million.

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That’s a lot of money! And the airport reaped the benefits of that investment over the coming years. It was soon looked upon as one of the Mediterranean’s focal points when it came to commerce and holidaymakers. To give you a better idea of how popular it was, CNN provided a telling statistic on its website.

According to CNN, close to 800,000 visitors had passed through Nicosia International Airport going into 1973. It was now the heart of Cyprus when it came to vacations. If you wanted to travel to the country, you’d likely land there. So it should come as no surprise that discussions turned to expanding the site.

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As per The Daily Telegraph, officials wanted to extend the airport’s new building to welcome even more tourists into the country. Unfortunately for them, though, that exciting proposal was stopped in its tracks during the summer of 1974. At that stage, Cyprus as a nation was thrown into turmoil – and things changed forever.

To help you understand the situation, here’s what you need to know. After Cyprus earned its independence in 1960, the country’s citizens were still either “Greek Cypriot” or “Turkish Cypriot.” The former outnumbered the latter. Greece then backed a plan to remove the Mediterranean nation’s leader in July 1974.

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In the process, the Greek forces took control of Nicosia International Airport. They employed the complex to welcome more soldiers from their home nation. But just a few days after this all happened, the hub was opened back up to allow tourists to get home. And that sparked a real rush.

That hectic activity came to an abrupt halt, though, on July 20, 1974. That’s because Turkey finally responded to Greece’s actions by launching an invasion of Cyprus that targeted the International Airport. The Daily Telegraph reported that troops set off explosives around the complex, which eventually led to the end of its commercial function.

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The fighting stopped close to a month later, after the United Nations intervened. As a result, the airport now found itself in what’s known as a “buffer zone.” This neutral area sits in the middle of Cyprus, with the Turkish Cypriots living in the northern zone and the Greek Cypriots in the southern sector.

To help maintain the peace, the U.N. has a station in that buffer zone – and the airport is a part of it. This means that citizens aren’t normally allowed to wander around the old site. But the Cypriot terminal did at least get to serve its former purpose one final time in 1977.

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As the airport had been abandoned during the 1974 conflict, several planes were left sitting on the runways. But three years later, British Airways received permission from the U.N. to pick up three of its vehicles. With that, they traveled back to London, England – and marked the building’s final departures.

Since then, Nicosia International Airport has stood almost frozen in time, unchanged from that summer over 45 years ago. Keeping this in mind, there’ve been plenty of adventurers eager to explore the abandoned space in the following decades. What would they find, though? And how does it look inside? Well, let’s take a tour!

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To begin with, let’s have a look around the exterior of the famous airport. If you didn’t already know that it was abandoned, the overgrown grass just away from the concrete is a pretty big giveaway! That sets the tone for the journey ahead, with the terminal looking pretty run down from the outside.

The airport’s still standing, but you can tell right away that it hasn’t received much, if any, maintenance since those upheavals in the mid-1970s. Two towers sit on either side of the main building, peering across the buffer zone. And if you’re wondering about the fate of the abandoned planes, then ponder no more.

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By strolling over to the left of the terminal, you’ll spot an old hangar in the distance. And as you come closer, a plane suddenly becomes visible above unkempt greenery. It’s almost like the aircraft is hiding! This particular vehicle is a Cyprus Airways Trident Sun Jet, and it’s certainly seen better days.

According to the U.N., this airplane couldn’t leave while the conflict raged on because its engines were used for parts to patch up a different craft. So it’s stayed put ever since, slowly decaying with the passing of time.

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The doors are now gone as well, meaning that there’s no safe way to make your way inside the relic. We can only imagine what the interior looks like! Sticking with the exterior, though, there’s a chilling detail that you might not have noticed. There seem to be bullet marks around it, which again serve as a reminder of what happened in 1974.

Now that you’ve had a peek at one of the planes, let’s return to the airport itself. As you approach the terminal building, you start to have a better idea of its condition. All of the windows on the ground floor have slim metal bars sitting in front of the glass, though many panes are no longer there.

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To give us a better view of the inside, a YouTuber named Chris Krzentz peered through a gap in the bars with his camera. This particular room has been stripped bare at the front of the terminal, with little left but debris and naked concrete walls, aside from a single white seat to one side.

We’re sure that all of those holidaymakers from the 1960s and 1970s couldn’t have seen this coming when the airport was thriving. It feels like a sad husk. Krzentz isn’t the only YouTuber to get up close and personal with this building, either. And one channel even managed to film a video from the inside, with fascinating results.

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Yes, the people behind the Exploring the Unbeaten Path channel sneaked past U.N. officials to enter Nicosia International Airport. Once they arrived, the group walked into an area with much more life than the bare space we just talked about. We’re referring to one of the terminal’s waiting rooms.

Incredibly, the vast majority of the seats still seem to be there. As for the rest of the room, it’s pretty decayed. Numerous ceiling panels hang from the rafters, and there’s more debris on the floor. At this stage, though, you can start to imagine what it would’ve been like when tourists packed these spaces out.

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But the only thing that these chairs do nowadays is collect dust and bird droppings. Not quite as appealing! As you venture into the room a little further, its true scale comes to light. This is a pretty large space, with the ceiling expanding up a few feet. The metal cage that covers it actually adds color to the space thanks to its blue shade.

Even so, this cavernous room still has an eerie feel to it. The echo as you trample across the dirty floor doesn’t help! And it isn’t the only space in the abandoned airport to carry that aura. If we venture out of the waiting area to one of the balconies, for instance, it hits us once again.

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Why’s that? Well, if we look at the walls from up high, we’ll see a selection of billboards bolted to the surface. Some of them have wilted away as the years have gone by, yet there are a couple that still remain visible. This small detail highlights how sudden the airport’s demise was and again shows that its interior is frozen in time.

Just outside the waiting room, you’ll see a whole corridor of empty passport kiosks, as well as the customs area. It might sound strange, but the aesthetic is almost timeless in a sense. It’s not as dated as you might think, even though it hasn’t been touched in just under 50 years.

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Anyway, it’s about time we looked at a different part of the airport, wouldn’t you say? On that note, let’s switch our focus to the lobby. Now on the outside of this area, you’ll be greeted by more metal bars covering the windows that used to be there. Some barbed wire has been wrapped around them as well.

At this point, Nicosia International Airport begins to feel a little different. Up until this point, it’s been a place where you can picture tourists of the past. But thanks to the barbed wire, the conflict now comes flooding back to the forefront of your mind. This was no longer an exciting spot for holidaymakers in the end.

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And that only heightens as we take a look inside the lobby. Again, there are piles of barbed wire at one end of the room and you’ll spot some more near an old sign, too. The discolored board reads: “Tipping porters not allowed.” All things considered, it’s in pretty good nick.

What about the rest of the lobby, though? Well, the further we venture, the more it begins to feel like an airport again. You’ll spot what’s left of an old cafe located below one of the balconies. Sadly, the sign is the one of the few things that remain, along with what looks to be the counter.

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We can only guess how busy that would’ve been when the airport was in its pomp! Keeping that in mind, the check-in area’s still standing within the depths of the building as well. Another spot that’s sure to have seen its fair share of crowds, it appears to be in remarkably decent condition.

The desks are still in place, as is some of the glass behind them. And if you’ve ever wondered what happens to your luggage when it heads off on the conveyor belts, you can also see the remnants of them there. It’s pretty cool – but we wouldn’t want to venture down that dark drop to see more!

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So what’s left of Nicosia International Airport to see? Have we missed anything? Well, there’s one more spot located down the runway away from the main terminal. It’s the control tower, and you’ll soon note that the building is surprisingly small compared to those in today’s major airports.

On the outside, most of the entrances to the control tower have been barricaded, with a lone open doorway at the back. This room is completely empty, and evidently separate from the rest of the building. And if we go a bit higher to the tower itself, we’ll be greeted by a similarly blank space.

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But while there isn’t much to look at inside the tower, the view of the runway from above makes up for it. And with that, our tour of the International Airport comes to a close. Imagine what this place would look like now if it hadn’t shut its doors back in 1974!

On that note, you’re probably wondering if the airport has ever come close to being opened up again. Well, The Daily Telegraph reported that the Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus have discussed the possibility in the past. But the talks didn’t get any further than that, so it remains unlikely.

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Since Nicosia International Airport was abandoned, two major terminals have been built in other parts of the country to replace it. The first was Larnaca International Airport, which sprang up in 1975. The second, Paphos International Airport, emerged eight years later. It’s fair to say they had a lot to live up to.

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