More background info: I found it hard to find solid information about this site – other than numerous reports and studies of the left-behind pollution from copper mining in the area (especially due to the huge tailings ponds just to the east of Gemikonağı).
In particular I was unable to determine when these jetties were constructed. Copper mining began near here in the early 1930s under the auspices of the American Cyprus Mining Corporation (CMC). But at least the larger of the two jetties looks more recent than that.
It’s not even entirely clear when their operation ceased. CMC pulled out of Cyprus (and the company was later sold) after the Turkish military invasion of 1974 (see Cyprus history
), and the Green Line
has been cutting off the loading jetties from the main mines, especially the huge Skouriotissa Mine (the oldest and biggest of Cyprus’s 20th century copper mines), ever since. But some sources claim that Gemikonağı harbour ceased operations as late as 1992. Yet I’m pretty sure the jetties wouldn’t have been used for copper dispatching after 1974.
It’s also unclear what the Greek name of the place is (this used to be a mixed Greek and Turkish Cypriot area until partition). The Lonely Planet guidebook (7th ed., p202) gives “Karavostasi”, other sources say “Xeros”.
The smaller one of the jetties is only 400 feet (120m) long, the larger one is 1400 feet (425m) long from the beach line to its end – and a similar length on land.
What there is to see:
When I visited Gemikonağı I had driven all the way from Famagusta (see Varosha
) in the east of the TRNC
, so I went to the more easterly of the two jetties first.
This is a comparatively small affair and the part closest to the shore is sagging, with its support poles gone and the railings and cables the only things connecting the jetty to terra firma.
On land is a jumble of rusting metal structures and buildings. One promises fish & chips but it all looked decidedly abandoned when I was there and certainly not like a working restaurant.
Other than the sagging jetty, the “star attractions” here are a dilapidated mining train, consisting of three yellow-painted ore waggons and a small diesel locomotive (minus its engine), and a completely red-rusty shipwreck. The latter was built in England and was in service for CMC (see above) as a tug, until it found its permanent last resting place here on the coast. The interior has been largely picked clean, the bridge now an empty skeleton.
Look out over the water and coastline westwards and you can already spot the much, much larger copper ore loading jetty that really is the highlight of Gemikonağı.
To get there you have to park a good distance inland outside a closed barrier and walk towards the coast. On the barrier is a sign in Turkish and I wondered whether it said something like “entry forbidden”. I later confirmed that and it was also a warning that it is dangerous to enter the site. Well, at the time I was there I couldn’t understand the sign so I simply ducked under the barrier and wandered in. I probably would have done so anyway even if I had translated the sign there and then. And my wife and I were not the only ones. There was another parked car and we later encountered the small group, who must have used that car, as they came back from their explorations.
Ours began at the small building by the barrier, probably a security guard post back in the working days of the harbour. Now it’s deserted and inside are just a battered desk, a couple of chairs, a small cabinet (maybe a safe) and some unidentified piece of machinery.
A bit further up is a large rectangular metal grate in the ground with a hollow bunker below (a so-called ‘glory hole’ in mining lingo) and a metal roof above. I presume this would have been where lorries dumped the copper ore on to the conveyor belt below. Next to the grate is a shallow heap of some unidentified grey-yellowish substance, whose chemical composition I’d rather not speculate about.
Adjacent is a two-storey building, which must have been the machine hall for operating the ore conveyor belts. Inside you can see some rusting electrical equipment and a distributor where the central conveyor belt from under the grate would have dropped its ore on to two parallel conveyor belts that have covers over them to protect them from the elements (a few are missing, though, so you can still see the belt here and there).
One belt went up a diagonal ramp of sorts. There were stairs and a wooden walkway parallel to the belt structure, but the rotting wooden planks didn’t look safe enough to support my weight so I didn’t venture up there.
Instead I left the machine hall and walked parallel to the conveyor belt structure, which led to a semi-open shed of sorts, basically a large roof on stilts with the upper conveyor belt running through the top. Under this roof was an enormous heap of yet more of that ominous-looking grey and yellow substance, which may well be toxic, so I stayed clear of it. Why it would have been dumped here in such quantities I couldn’t work out.
From here the covered conveyor belt ran in a kind of concrete trough towards the coast. The trough parallel to the conveyor belt was filled with grey mud and water with an even more ominous-looking colouration of a deep red.
This leads to another building where the conveyor belt rises up to a second storey level. It is here that many of the metal covers are missing thus exposing the conveyor belt inside. On the other side, the belt continues on to the rusty metal jetty jutting out into the sea. The building was closed and I could not see a way of getting on to the jetty, so I just walked to the shoreline where there were also a couple of obscure large metal drums rusting away.
I walked up the shore a bit to get a better angle view of the huge jetty. At its end is a raised crane-like structure, probably for loading the ore on to ships. It’s certainly an impressive ex-industrial installation worthy of a bit of coastal urbexing.
There are also a few abandoned lower buildings around, including a toilet hut. The toilets were not working but I used a broken urinal inside anyway as I needed a pee. Going by my olfactory impression I can’t have been the first one to do so …
After that we just retraced our steps, explored the machine hall at the other end a bit more and then got back into the car and drove off. From the new highway for Lefke it was possible to get a good view of the tailings ponds whose pollution levels are such a headache for this place (see above). They look dramatic, insofar as that you can almost see their toxicity, but as I was behind the wheel on a fast road I couldn’t take any photos.
All in all
, I enjoyed this little urbexing
add-on to my road-trip of the TRNC
. I think it was definitely worth the detour. But I admit that this sort of thing won’t be for everybody.
Google Maps locators:
Access and costs: jetties not too tricky to find, tailings ponds inaccessible; free.
Details: To get here you have to have your own vehicle (hire car).
Take the main east-west dual-carriageway trunk road between Famagusta
towards Güzelyurt. Where this highway ends outside Güzelyurt, take the first exit at the roundabout heading south and the second exit at the next roundabout to carry on straight. Stay on this road until it ends at Lefke, with another roundabout, where you take the second exit to turn right. Carry on along this road until you come to the coast and turn right again. Carry on eastwards for a bit until you see the jetty, shipwreck and abandoned train on your left. There’s plenty of (free) parking space.
I had downloaded Google Maps for navigation and that sent me down tiny rural lanes towards the coast further east, so that the jetty, train and shipwreck appeared to the right. Whether that was really quicker I doubt, but it worked too.
To get to the larger jetty, drive the coastal road in a westbound direction. From where the road leaves the coast and heads inland carry on for another 2000 feet (600m) or so. Then look out for a small dirt track branching off to the right. I missed it on my first attempt and had to turn round further west and drive back. Drive up that dirt track for about 80 yards and park. From here you have to proceed on foot.
Duck under the barrier and start exploring. Nominally you’re not supposed to enter this area, but it’s easy to do and there are no guards. I saw another group of urbexers, and it’s quite well documented with photos on the Internet, so it’s clearly a popular destination. Just don’t dig around in all the heaps and puddles of pollution …
The large old tailings ponds with all their pollution located to the east of Gemikonağı can only be seen from the road but should not be visited as such.
something like 40-60 minutes, plus driving time – which is a bit under an hour from North Nicosia
, and a bit over an hour and a half from Famagusta/Varosha
Combinations with other dark destinations:
To the north of the north-eastern corner of the copper mine tailings ponds, between the coastal road and the shoreline is a large memorial monument
complex for Cengiz Topel
, the first Turkish Air Force pilot to be shot down in action over Cyprus (see also National Struggle Museum
) at this location in 1964. He managed to bail out but was allegedly kidnapped by Greek Cypriots, tortured and eventually killed. The memorial incorporates some wreck pieces of his plane and a complete (model?) F-100 Super Sabre jet (the type he had flown) on a plinth with a statue of Topel in front, as well as an abstract monument and various plaques (all in Turkish only) and a bas-relief of Topel.
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
see under North Cyprus
- Gemikonagi 01 - sagging pier
- Gemikonagi 02 - closed restaurant
- Gemikonagi 03 - shipwreck
- Gemikonagi 04 -rusty
- Gemikonagi 05 - train wreck
- Gemikonagi 06 - approaching the main site
- Gemikonagi 07 - deserted
- Gemikonagi 08 - machine hall
- Gemikonagi 09 - inside the machine hall
- Gemikonagi 10 - ex-electric gear
- Gemikonagi 11 - polluted waters
- Gemikonagi 12 - up
- Gemikonagi 13 - eastern side of the machine hall
- Gemikonagi 14 - industrial urbexing
- Gemikonagi 15 - big heap
- Gemikonagi 16 - ominously yellow
- Gemikonagi 17 - brittle
- Gemikonagi 18 - toxic water and mud
- Gemikonagi 19 - towards the coast
- Gemikonagi 20 - towards the sea
- Gemikonagi 21 - rust galore
- Gemikonagi 22 - abandoned copper loading pier
- Gemikonagi 23 - the copper pier in its full-length glory