The Green Line in Cyprus

Travel between Nicosia and Kyrenia

As can be seen in the map above, the road from Nicosia to Kyrenia passed through an area that was predominately Turkish Cypriot.

For Greeks Cypriots, passing through this enclave there was a real (and perceived) danger. Turkish Cypriots leaving this area to enter Kyrenia would have to pass through Government (Greek Cypriot) checkpoints and this was considered "unwise".

Whenever there was increased tension between the communities, the Kyrenia pass route would be avoided by the Greek Cypriots who were required to take a lengthy detour (see below).

Indeed any traveller needed to be aware that there were endless exchanges of fire across the main road over the Kyrenia pass. 

After the events of 1963/64, this road was closed for all Greek Cypriot vehicles.

In order to travel to Kyrenia, Greek Cypriots were required to make a lengthy detour via Myrtou.
In the 1960s the roads were narrow and twisty and this detour made for a lengthy journey.

The image above shows a road crossing the flat central plain - from earlier years with the corresponding road today.
Any road crossing the mountains would be twisty with extended travel times.

In October 1964 the direct road to Kyrenia was re-opened for use by Greek Cypriots. However, travel was only allowed with a UN escort. No weapons were allowed and all vehicles were thoroughly searched before being allowed to join the convoy.

Pictures of the first escorted Kyrenia convoy on Monday 26th October 1964 photographed by Col John Sale

Details of the agreement for travel by Greek Cypriots between Nicosia and Kyrenia.

Many Greek Cypriots continued to prefer the lengthy diversion via Myrtou.
In November 1965 the number of checkpoints was reduced to one at either end of the route. Over the years additional, (but temporary) UN checkpoints were added along the route as the Turkish Cypriots established and removed new 'threatening' positions.

Marshalling and dispersal of the Kyrenia Road convoys was carried out by the civilian police element of the Force (UNCIVPOL) with route security and escorts initially provided by UNFICYP troops. In the 1970s, troops were removed and UNCIVPOL were in complete control.

The video below shows you the scale of the operation that lasted, day in, day out until the Turkish invasion in July 1974.

The final few seconds show a signpost for Kyrenia but via the village of Myrtou (see the maps above).

I personally travelled the Nicosia-Kyrenia route in 1973 but, as a UKBC teacher, we were not required to join a convoy.

As described earlier, travel for Turkish Cypriots was equally problematical.

Turkish Cypriots who lived in Nicosia and Turkish Cypriot villages on the seaward slope of the range who wished to travel over the mountains would have to pass through Government (Greek Cypriot) checkpoints. They were very relucant to do so.

The villagers at Temblos began to improve a foot track over the mountains close to St Hilarion castle in order to intercept the part of the Nicosia-Kyrenia road that was controlled by Turkish Cypriots.

This improvement was the source of many complaints to the UN by the Greek Cypriots who believed it could be used to move Turkish Cypriot forces who would then be able to attack their defensive positions from the rear. The Turkish Cypriots maintained that it was purely to guarantee their ability to transport food and essential supplies free of Government control.

The UN reports of the period detail the extensive effort that went in to trying to reassure both communities regarding the use of this track.