Mavi Köşk


Probably the most eccentric sight in Northern Cyprus, Mavi Köşk (Blue House) was supposedly built by Paulo Paolides, lawyer to Archbishop Makarios III. Lavishly fitted out in the retro-tastic style of the day, the rooms (which come in a rainbow of colours, not just blue) are a vision of kitsch tiles, plush mid-century modern details and gaudy features such as an iguana-skin-covered custom-made drinks cabinet. The house sits in a military-controlled area and you'll need your passport to enter.

There are plenty of completely uncorroborated rumours about Mavi Köşk, the main one being that Paolides was involved with the Italian mafia, was smuggling guns into Cyprus for the uprising against British rule and the house acted as an ammunition depot. Various stories about secret tunnels under the house and rooms where mafia members once met are also swirled around. Paolides escaped (some say by using a secret tunnel) from the house during the 1974 Turkish invasion and died in 1986. Accordingly, his death is shrouded in myth as well with some saying he was killed during a mafia meeting in Sicily. Whatever the truth, the house is a time capsule of highly kitsch design which would have been the height of chic for its day.

It's well-signposted from the main road on the outskirts of Çamlıbel (Myrtou). You leave your passport with the soldiers stationed at the booth just before the car park. The guards inside can give you an English-language information sheet, which walks you through each room describing the features. Unfortunately, no photographs are allowed inside, though you are allowed to take photos in the garden behind.

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