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Titos Kolotas: 'People need to know Limassol's past, to love the city'

Titos Kolotas is walking around the historical archive of the city with a certain steady step, wearing a white linen shirt. You know you can find him around there almost at any time. His entire life time revolves around stories, and so does his everyday life, too, at the age of 73. You can’t get enough of his narratives, when he uses poetic phrases and his speech is coherent, with a logical order. He radiates an artful aura and delicate manners, from the way he walks to the way he smokes. As he admits, he smokes continuously, ever since the age of 14, now smoking slim cigarettes, which, as he has heard saying, are the cigarettes considered to be a habit of... common women.

Titοs states that he hates injustice, as well as snob and the people of new money. He doesn’t seem to regret for anything and he doesn’t carry any grudges or past desires to his present. Furthermore, he doesn’t look back at the old times with nostalgia – even if he recognizes a special beauty in them. He is a thoughtful man, characterized by a sense of intellectualism, and, although he has been related to many exceptional people, from artists to politicians, he doesn’t consider himself an eminent person.

He is fighting to protect and spread the history of Limassol, arguing that only in this way people will be able to love and respect the city. He becomes extremely passionate when he narrates and he has a special talent in describing old stories and past incidents. He can take you back to the past in such an intense way that you feel like he's got you by the hand, taking you along him to a trip in times past. He sees the truth behind peoples’ faces and behind situations, and he doesn’t afraid to expose it; he is not seduced or deceived by people’s titles, positions or money anyway. And if there is something that he doesn’t accept, if there is one thing that doesn’t allow anyone to question, it’s the fact that Titos Kolotas is a passionate Limassolian.

Titos Kolotas’ story and Limassol in a different era…

He was born and raised in Limassol and he had a happy childhood. Both his parents were from Arsos village. He had a big family and they were 6 children in total, 5 boys and 1 girl. His siblings were all older, so Titos, as a child, was playing more with his friends. In the neighborhood which he was born – in Nikiforos Fokas Street, where Cyta is now located, near Anexartisias Street – and then grew up, behind the Municipal Library, there was a big open space where the children of the neighborhood were gathering around to play.

He studied at Laniteio high school and, as he confesses, the first flirts began that time. “We were going to the cinema and we were walking along Gladstonos Street. That’s how the flirting was done. On the bikes, with a look, at the time we were leaving school. We enjoyed going to school parties. At cinemas, however, we could only go to the early show, which was meant for students, just once a week at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Also, they used to chase us a lot, when they would  find us out of the house after sunset or when we were going to a mixed party, where boys and girls were partying together. They would  find out the location of the party and they would  come there, spoiling the fun.”

Back then we were flirting on the bikes, with a look, at Gladstonos Street.

What do you recall most from your childhood?
The carnival was important for us. Our parents were always putting us in costumes. Of course, at the old times, the costumes were very simple, they were not like today. With 1 vest and 1 pistol, we were becoming cowboys.

Which location was your favorite at that time?
I loved going to the Franks’ pier, across Franks’ Church, especially during the summer months. There were the fishermen, who were fishing with their boats and we were going for swimming, for fishing, for rides with the boat. We used to hire a boat from the fishermen and we rode with the paddle. We also loved going to the Municipal Garden.

You had to pay a ticket to dance with a girl for 2 – 3 minutes, the so-called “consommation”

Were you working as a child?
Yes, of course. In the summers all the children were working, the only ones who didn’t work were the extremely rich kids. I worked in Fasouri, where I was making boxes for the grapes, and when I grew up a little bit more, I worked with the journalist and later ambassador, Costas Papadimas. I was going with him as his assistant in the summer time, and I remember that he was giving me 10 pounds a week. I can say that this how my curiosity about the profession of a journalist started to grow. 

Would you say that you were naughty as a child?
No, I wouldn’t say that. I wasn’t particularly naughty, but I was doing illegal things, like smoking for example. I was a regular smoker since I was 14 years old. Later, when I grew up we were going secretly to the cabarets. Olympia and Rex were the well-known cabarets of that time. Also, they were operating as family entertainment clubs, where families could go and watch dancing shows and acrobatics. Then, when the families were leaving, the setting was changing and the boys were taking the girls for dancing. With a ticket, of course. You had to pay a ticket so you could take a girl to a 2 – 3 minutes dance, it was the so-called “consommation”. And like that, at the cabarets as school graduates, we got to know about sexual relations.

With the great Greek theatrical and movie actor, Manos Katrakis.

The women used to like you when you were a young man?
I was considered to be a handsome man, yes. And this is not my opinion, this is what they used to say. Indeed, they were saying that I looked like the Greek actor Demetris Papamichael (he laughs).

The fact that you were intellectually educated, was a factor for women to like you?
I think yes. Having an intellectual education was something that mattered. Being able to write or tell a poem is something that always touches a woman.

Do you think the old times were better than the present?
No, not all. I believe that every time has its advantages and disadvantages, its difficulties and its miseries. I don’t regret for the time I grew up in, I enjoyed my childhood and my youth, but certainly I wouldn’t want to go back to those times. Every era is different and beautiful.

I was considered to be a handsome young man, they used to say that I was looked like the Greek actor Demetris Papamichael.

What advantages and disadvantages do you find at that time?
Certainly, a great advantage was the simplicity of those times. Also, the relations between the people were more authentic and more sincere. Another positive thing was that we were satisfied by the few things, we were enjoying and we were happy with small, simple things.

How would you describe the Limassolians’ mentality back then?
In Limassol, many years ago, although there were rich and poor people, there was a mindset where the class difference didn’t seem so distinctive. Thus, the upper-class people could sit in the tavern and enjoy with the middle-class people, even with the employees and the workers. This was particularly noticeable in the carnival, where people were all having fun in one common venue. Then, in the 1970s, with the organization of carnival in the hotels, somehow the class difference began to be observed. The Limassolians back then didn’t feel the need to show off. But we slowly lost the spontaneity that characterized us.

With the Greek poet, Yiannis Ritsos, who hailed the struggles of everyday people.

Life in Paris and the political course: “Stories for savages...”

What did you do after you finished school?
After school I left Cyprus and started my studies in law, in Athens, a profession I never actually practiced. Immediately afterwards, I went to Paris to study theater, theater direction specifically. At that time in Paris in the 1970s, I met my teacher, a great theater teacher and playwrighter, George Sevasticoglou. Together, we created a theatrical research studio and then a theater group. There, we were mainly staging ancient tragedies or comedies, and I was an assistant director. I also played as an actor in some plays, but not in leading roles.

Didn’t you wish to practice the Law at all?
My family sent me to study the Law, it wasn’t my wish. And when I finished my studies, I decided to move on and study what I wanted. Meanwhile, I got married to my first wife, Lito Markoulli, who was one of the first, if not the first, real psychoanalyst. She got a scholarship and she wanted to go to France to become a specialist in psychiatry and so I went with her to study theater.

Titos Kolotas does know the Limassol history very well and constantly researches the past, but he is not nostalgic, he does not wish to return to that, but he rather looks ahead, to anything new this city with the fascinating history has to offer.

It seems that Paris stood out as a landmark in your life and in the intellectual horizons you broadened.
Indeed. Paris and also the people I met there. A common thing we share with my beloved friend Dionysis Savvopoulos is that we have the same person as a mentor, Demetris Despotides, who, although unknown to many, was one of the most important intellectual people of modern Greece and also the founder of the publications "Themelio". He was the man who got me in touch with many significant people and artists, both in France and in Greece.

Who were the most important ones?
A very good friend, whom I had the honor to meet, was the poet Takis Sinopoulos, one of the most important poets of modern Greece. Another very good friend of mine is Semina Digeni. In fact, if you go to her Facebook profile, where the family section is, you will find that she has written me as... her son(!), though she is much younger than me.. (he laughs). Marios Tokas was also my friend, from a very early age, I basically “raised him” (he laughs).

I was operating a gallery in Limassol, until I made the huge mistake to get involved with politics.

What did you do after you finished with your studies in theater?
After the theater I returned to Cyprus and opened a gallery in Limassol. It was called “Polytopo” and essentially it was the first art gallery and at the same time cultural center, in the city. It had a very nice, spacious place and I was inviting my acquaintances from Paris and Athens for lectures and events. At the same time, I also got involved in journalism. The gallery had been in operation for about 4 years, until I made the deadly sin to enter into politics. When this happened, I moved to Nicosia and closed the gallery.

How did you open the gallery - were you coming from a wealthy family?
Not at all. My family was not wealthy, but my ex-wife was (he laughs). Besides, from the exhibitions which I was organizing for most of my friends, I wasn’t even getting a commission, so I was ending up with loss instead of profit. But through the gallery, I brought for the first time in Cyprus many well-known artists from Athens; Yiannis Gaitis for example, with whom later we became close friends, Spyros Vasiliou and many others.

I lived the politics to the fullest, until I felt disgusted and decided to give up.

How did you get involved with politics?
I was always interested in politics, I was not indifferent, but I didn’t belong to any political party. At the time I was operating the gallery and engaged in journalism, and Spyros Kyprianou asked me to become more involved with “Eleftherotypia” newspaper. And later on he specifically told me: “Isn't it time for you to leave everything and come to Nicosia?” And so it happened.

In Nicosia I was the general organizer of Democratic Party (DIKO), during Kyprianou’s leadership. At that time, I was number 3 in the party’s hierarchy because there were no vice-chairmen, members of the parliaments, etc. In that way I lived the politics to the fullest, I was disgusted and decided to give up everything and come back to Limassol.

As a member of the City Council, Titos Kolotas gave a long-term and persistent struggle to convince the Municipality to proceed with the establishment of the Historical Archives, while acquiring former house of the Governor — a colonial leftover — as a place for this purpose, was also result of the pressure he applied.

So you were already a member of the Democratic Party?
No. I was just a friend of Spyros. When I went to Nicosia, he suggested to me to take over DIKO’s press office. I stayed in the office for 1 year and then I took over the party’s general organization position.

What made you feel disgusted and led you to abandon politics after all?
I felt disgusted with everything I saw happening that time, disgusted with the things that eventually became known to the public as well. Besides, I didn’t try to get involved more to the politics, I never wished to be a member of the parliament. And even if I wanted, Spyros wouldn’t let me. He was afraid that he would lose me from his side.

How did you meet Spyros Kyprianou?
I knew him since we were children. Spyros Kyprianou and my brother grew up in the same neighborhood in Limassol, developing a friendly relationship since they were kids. Spyros was the grandson of the notorious former Mayor of Limassol and member of the parliament, Spyros Araouzos. And that’s why they have the same name.

Spyros Kyprianou was always dressed in a costume and a tie in the neighborhood, when we were children.

Spyros, as a child, was always dressed in a costume and a tie, even though in the neighborhood there was a big open area full of dirt and mud, where all the children were gathering to play. His mother would left him to go out of the house, but only in order to watch the other kids playing. Spyros wasn’t allowed to participate in the game, not to be dirty. And if he was trying to come near to the area we were playing to participate too, you'd hear his mother calling him back. This was the figure he had in the neighborhood, he was the proper child of the great family.

Later as a politician, but also as a man, how was he?
Kyprianou, in short, was a good man. He was not bad, but he was very modest and very insecure. He was full of insecurities, which we had to continually drive away and we constantly had to encourage him. Indeed, when Makarios died and he had to take over the presidency himself, the insecurities grew. They had to convince him that he was the President then.

Do you believe that the Municipal Councils can be independent from the political parties’ mechanisms?
Unfortunately, no. I would say that Municipal Councils are increasingly sinking into the mechanisms of the political parties, which control their actions, and that's why their quality decreases. I can say without any fear and hesitation that the City Council of 1996 – in which I was a member as well – up to the present one, is every time worse than the previous.

Political parties’ mechanisms are getting more and more into Municipal Councils and control their actions.

In that city council, besides the teacher Costis Kolotas, there were people like, to mention only a few, Angelos Votsis, Andros Kyprianou, Yiannos Lamaris, Kyriakos Economou, people with authority, who, as members of the Municipal Council had a different kinf of rhetoric and activity. The fact that afterwards some of them became Members of the Parliament of some party and followed what the party mechanisms, was due to the fact that they became “slaves” of the party. These people back then had a strong presence in the City Council and very different action.

One could say that you were part of this political system yourself, during Kyprianou’s term.
Yes, but when I couldn’t stand the system anymore, I left. I could stay and become a MP or a minister, as others did, or I could go to another party when Kyprianou left. But I didn’t do it.

But you said that you were sick of politics, why did you get involves again as a member of the City Council?
When I say I was sick of politics, I mean the political system with the parties. But I was always interested in politics as far as it concerned my city. At some point, with a group of 30 – 40 citizens, we created an independent movement, with no parties in the middle, “Our City”, so it was called. We even managed to elect 2 members in the Municipal Council in 2 consecutive terms, which was then considered to be a great success.

I can’t stand the mediocre people… Without skills and without background they become leaders, even in our city.

What are the principles that you have as a person?
Something that I certainly can’t tolerate is injustice and not to myself, but essentially the one that is being done to others. Above all, however, I can’t stand the mediocrity, in any way, politically, socially, spiritually. There are many fake people and unfortunately the rest, simply indifferent, leave them ruthlessly to continue. These people, without skills and without background, become leaders, even in our city, not just in politics but in all areas. Many “corks” are floating, either because of the ignorance of the rest or because of excessive tolerance. Besides, the characteristic of the Cypriot today is the mentality of not to react to anything and let everything pass.

Why won’t the good ones react, then?
I’m also wondering about those who really have values, but they don’t react. Perhaps they don’t let them step forward because the others fear that their mediocrity will be revealed, or they choose to be silent. I believe that the new wealth of the last 30 years has led to the creation of a society in which people who don’t deserve manage to float. And they do it either through money or through the positions they got because of the money.

People of no talents come to the foreground, either because of the ignorance or the tolerance of the rest.

Do you get angry easily?
Yes, I would say that I get angry, but the anger easily passes and afterwards I’m regretting. And I can’t hold any hard feelings. Many times my wife had said to me: "But we agreed not to talk to him, you don’t remember what he did to you, why are you still talking to him?" (he laughs). The truth is I don’t remember, I don’t keep any grudge in me, I easily forget and forgive.

Are you stressful as a person?
Yes, I'm stressful. Of course, many times I even get anxious about small things, but also for other matters, such as family issues for example, about my children. The professional future of my third son is something that makes worry the most now, but I think he has finding his way after all, so the stress is getting less.

What complaints do you hear from others? Perhaps about some negative features of your personality.
My wife urges me to go out more. She is telling me not to stay in my office all day, with my computer, my studies, and all that. I'm not particularly outgoing as a personality, but sometimes I enjoy going out with my friends.

So, you are more of an introvert as a character.
I can easily express myself to friends – very few of course are the friends to whom I can confess things – but I am quite introverted in my thoughts, in my anxieties. But I don’t think I'm an antisocial person. Some people may think that I’m peculiar, but not antisocial.

Are you suspicious with other people?
No, I’m not. And, of course, you can fall in many traps, if you are not cautious with people, especially if you know beforehand that they will trick you. And I experienced this in my life, I trusted people who then betrayed me. But I don’t hold it inside, I forget easily and I don’t let it to influence my character.

For as long as I was in DIKO I did not allow my wife to be appointed to the government.

How many children have you got?
In my first marriage I had 2 children, Isidoros and Daphne. In the second one, I got another boy, Michalis.

What is your wife’s occupation?
My wife is an architect and director of the Town Planning Department in Famagusta district.

Dealing with DIKO helped your wife take the place?
No, on the contrary. When we went to Nicosia, my wife was an unemployed architect, and I told her that I didn’t want her to be appointed to the government as long as I was in the party. So, she had to work in one of her friend’s shop as a salesperson. When I left the party, she passed the exams and was appointed to the government. I did it because I didn’t want anyone to say that I had arranged to my wife a place in the government.

"We preserve the city's past for its future", reads the wall at the entrance of the Historical Archives.

From the past to the present: “Change does not bother me, as long as it does not lead to anarchy”

What changed in people's relationships now? Do you think flirting is more intense now than before?
They used to flirt in the old times too, flirting was intense in young people’s lives, it wasn’t something indifferent for them. Every girl had her boyfriend and almost everyone was having a relationship. In fact, as soon as the couples were finishing school, they were either get married or engaged, or leave together for studies.

Nowadays, young people have more freedom of expression than we used to, but they don’t express as they should. From what I can tell the flirt is missing. I believe they are afraid of the commitment. More, the ease with which relationships are created – easy to relate, easy to move on – brings the opposite effects. I don’t know, they may be afraid of the rejection, or simply they want to live their lives without being tied to a person, who may lead them to the obligation of marriage.

From a point and afterwards, we became arrogant and the city filled with newly rich people.

Most people see you as a passionate Limassolian.
Yes, and that's something I don’t give anyone the right to question. Without any chauvinism or unhealthy localism, fortunately or not, especially those who have experienced the life in Limassol, from the past to the present with its evolution, we are very proud of our city. We are particularly proud of Limassol's mentality and lifestyle, and we are being jealous for this. Many people that don’t come from Limassol recognize the benefits in our city, not just the locals.

Does Limassol has disadvantages too?
Yes, for sure, the new money and the arrogant mentality, are an example. These are elements that make me angry. Suddenly, at some point after the war, a lot of wealth came in the city and Limassol found itself full of newly rich people. This did not happen because of the foreigners who came, or the people from Famagusta who came here after the Turkish invasion. We don’t blame anyone. The city evolves and progresses as it evolves, regardless of those who had come or not.

People from Famagusta weren’t the people of camps, they wanted houses to stay, they were educated and prosperous.

People from Famagusta helped to the development of the city?
Of course, they offered too much to the progress of Limassol and to many areas as well, in business, construction, hotel industry, tourism, entertainment. With the proper know-how and the ideas they had from Famagusta – which back then was the most developed touristic city in Cyprus – they contributed to a significant extent to the development of tourism in Limassol.

The only difference after the war was that Limassol experienced a strong shock, because from a city of 40,000 people, it was forced from one day to the next to become a city of 80,000 – 100,000. For Limassol, which at the time was not prepared for such a change in terms of infrastructure and facilities, it was a great shock. And the people from Famagusta were not people for the camps. They wanted houses to stay in, they were well-educated and prosperous people. In order to have a place to stay, they started building apartments in Limassol themselves.

In a room of Pattichion Municipal Museum, with exhibits from past eras of life in Limassol.

How was the infrastructure in Limassol affected back then?
There was a big problem with the sewer, the city was smelling bad as all the sewage was flowing into the sea. And this has been going on for many years, until the early 1980s, when the sewer system was completed. The streets were another big problem, they were narrow and they were creating traffic. The big roads we have today, the coastal road or Makarios Avenue, for instance, have been made after 1974.

The same happened with the buildings. The entire coastal front with all those buildings was constructed to answer to those needs. There was a need for apartments, houses, offices. Perhaps the permits for the buildings were provided a little bit frivolously, but again it was the natural evolution. Even the towers of today, for me are a natural evolution of development.

I'm not against evolution, it’s good that we have projects under development, it's a necessity of the times.

How do you see the different projects that are being forwarded in Limassol today?
I am not against the development, and I agree with the construction of the Limassol Marina as well as to the way the coastal front was developed, I’m in behalf of the high buildings as well, they are necessities of the times. And in the high buildings, there is the following advantage: due to the new town planning rules, the higher they are built, the more space they are forced to leave around them. Based on the older legislation, when 30 blocks of flats of 6 – 10 floors were being built in one place, the whole area was covered by apartment blocks. We should think about what we prefer. Do we want to have 2 towers with many floors, a big parking which can also be used by citizens along with a huge green space, or we want to have 20 blocks of flats next to each other like the ones on the seafront today?

Do Limassolians accept change easily?
I believe they don’t, they always react to something new at first, but then I think they accept it. And they were always like that, it’s not something that happens only today. For example, when Marina was constructed, there was a lot of nagging at first, but eventually people accepted it. I believe the same will happen with the other projects that are being done. People will slowly accept them.

One could assume that he knows every corner of the building housing the history of Limassol, as well as he knows the corners of his own house — or maybe even better.

Something similar happened in the past too, at the time where Epihosi, on the seafront was built, when the new port of Limassol had started creating. At that time, the company that built it had to pick up the dirt and throw it away from Limassol – something that of course wasn’t in favor of her at all. So the company said it would start a project in order to "benefit" the city, basically wanting to throw its dirt there, and not to have to take it away. In the beginning this area seemed a bit strange to the citizens, because it had a lot of dust and clutter. Afterwards when it became beautiful and tidy with planted green, they accepted it. Now they are proud of it.

What would you like to see changing in the city?
I want to change what changes naturally, neither the evolution nor the change bothers me, as long as it moving in an organized and not anarchic or unpredictable way. I can accept the fact that now for example the city center has begun to be protected by many high buildings, and maintained also. But if there was a sudden, disorganized change in the city center, it would certainly bother me.

Is Limassol a clean city?
Certainly it could have been cleaner. At the old times it was easier to be cleaned. Today there are neighborhoods that have a big problem with their cleaning, or with the parks that were created due to the legislation for green spaces, which by the way it was completely wrong. Surely it is good to leave green areas in a city, but did anyone wonder if the City Hall have the time to take care of them? There are so many parks that is difficult to do so. A study could be carried out to determine how many of these green areas a Municipality can maintain. It would be better if there was a large green space, instead of so many smaller ones. Now, the control and the cleaning cannot be done correctly.

“Limassol stands out because it’s a cosmopolitan city”

What do you believe about the quality of services offered in Limassol, as the entertainment or the food are concerned?
It is definitely very good. And the fact that many people come from other cities for their entertainment in Limassol, confirms that. Yet another indication is that too many people from Nicosia, when they want to go somewhere to dine, they are coming to Limassol, even though they have very good restaurants and food in their city. The same thing happens with the entertainment. Many young people visit Limassol and go to the clubs here to have fun.

In what areas could the city been improved?
The tourist product of Limassol, I believe it could be more specialized in a specific tourism, congressional or medical for example. If Limassol, along with the hotels it already has, also had 1 or 2 more conference centers, then it could offer quality tourism, different  than the other cities. The same goes for the medical centers too. If 2 or 3 good medical centers were established, then Limassol could be a center of attraction, even for foreigners, not just for the locals.

Why does Limassol stand out?
It stands out because it is a cosmopolitan city. It offers many options to the tourists, for example, for the ones who want to get out of their hotel and go out to have fun or eat good food. They can go for excursions, to the villages, to the countryside. And the same goes for the locals. Limassol as a whole, offers many alternatives for every taste.

Do you think that the promotion of Limassol has been done right and in a well-coordinated way?
No, still there are many things that can be done for its promotion. And perhaps the leadership of the Municipalities or the big companies, was wrong. The new entrepreneurs of Limassol, which are the third and fourth generation of entrepreneurs, are much more open-minded. The younger generations travel, have been abroad for studies, and have graduated, while the older ones were mostly self-made entrepreneurs.

Do you think Limassol is an attractive place to reside in?
Yes, of course. I know people who live in Limassol, and every day they go to Nicosia for their work. They choose to stay here because they see that as far as quality of life, Limassol is better than Nicosia.

He smokes. As always, ever since he was 14 years old. He just made sure to cut down the number of empty packs per day.

What do we mean by quality of life?
Quality of life is everything, is in our everyday life, in the way of life and the opportunities we have as citizens of this city. For example we have the sea. I have friends who are coming from Nicosia and we go to the beach, we sit at the coastal cafeterias, we are drink our coffee and we enjoy the sea. They tell me they're jealous of us. Only the fact that they can sit and gaze the horizon in front of them, and be able to clear their mind and to quiet their thoughts, is a fine divine for them and they value it considerably. This is the quality of life.

Do the Limassolians appreciate it?
I think that too many Limassolians appreciate it, yes. The fact that someone can finish work, wear a sports outfit, go down to the beach for running, and afterwards continue with a coffee at a beach venue, is very nice. And I believe that many Limassolians take advantage and enjoy the good life of the city.

Limassolians enjoy the good life in the city.

Then why is there so much nagging?
It is a nagging that is unjustifiable first of all, but I think that's how our character as I have said. I don’t think we are miserable, but in general we are complaining. Nevertheless, nowadays, young people are nagging less, they change the mentality in a way, and they are more susceptible to new things than old people used to be.

Is Limassol expensive as a city?
Yes, it is, and this is due to its financial capabilities, since there is more money here than in other cities. However, I think we wouldn’t want to get rid of the positive effects that this brings, we need to know the pros and cons, and to recognize what alternatives we have if we don’t wish certain things. Money and prosperity in a city definitely raise the quality of life. The cost of life may be high but the quality is improved.

Could you live somewhere else besides Limassol?
I could, but I chose to live in Limassol. Even if I had the opportunity to live in other cities abroad, or in Nicosia. It was a conscious choice.

If we don’t respect the city, in the end we may lose the quality of life we ​​enjoy now.

Do you react to something negative that you see happening in the city or you get indifferent?
Definitely there are some things that bother me. But this society will hardly change, people will hardly respect the city. The life and quality of Limassol is very good, but to be maintained and developed, we must respect and love the city. We shouldn’t take it for granted, we shouldn’t do as we like, and expecting Limassol to remain as it is. If we don’t respect it, in the end, we may lose the quality of life we ​​enjoy now. And one reason that I insist so much on getting to know its story and learning about its past is precisely because, especially the young people, need to know the history of the city in order to feel proud of it, love it and protect it.

Sitting on the desk of Christodoulos Sozos, in a room at the Pattichion Municipal Museum, dedicated to the Limassol's Mayor (1908 — 1912) to whom the city owes the Municipal Garden and the electrical lighting.

“For someone to love their city, first they should know its past”

How was the Municipal Historical Archive created?
In 1996, when I was a member of the City Council, I submitted an in-depth study, which introduced the creation of a historical archive for the city. The idea began much earlier, in the early 1980s, along with Costas Kyrris, who then was the Director of the Center for Scientific Research in Cyprus. When it was decided to make the archive, a small committee was created with people who knew how the archive but also the museum section could set up, and that's how we started. For 5 – 6 years, when the budget of the Municipality was underway, I always remember Mayor Kondides, looking at me and say while laughing: “Here you go, you have an amount too, not to complain”, they were making fun of my persistence to create this.

After the decision for its establishment, the house of the official administrator here was emptied, and I suggested to the City Council to stop this obsolete institution of colonialism, according to which the English governor was staying in this house. The building was owned and maintained by the government and when the Ministry of Communications gave their approval, the house was given in order for the archive to be housed. Of course, the house needed a lot of money to be repaired, and with contributions from the Municipality, but also from the businessman Nikos Pattichis and his foundation “Nikos and Despina Pattichi”, the project was implemented.

I wrote and I shouted many times that there is a great need for the CUT and the schools to get to know the history of the city.

Did the authorized people do what they should?
No. And I say it clearly. Few people have been interested in spreading the history of Limassol. I argue that even in schools there should be a lesson on the history of the city. Even the Cyprus University of Technology as a local university could pay more attention to its history. I wrote and I shouted so many times that there is a great need to get to know the history of the city, but almost no one cared.

Are you happy with what has been done so far, about the history of the city?
No, not at all. There are so many things that should be done. The Historical Archive should be known more and better. Those who come here and see it, recognize its value and appreciate it, but few people are coming here. There even are members of the City Council, who have never come here, where the history of their city is kept.

Why did you go into this process of preserving the history?
For the love of the city. I have been dealing with the history of the city for about 40 years. I thought it was very important to create an archive like this. Of course, today there are others too who are interested and study the history of Limassol, I am not the only one, but we are very few. Most people haven’t been trained to give the appropriate importance, to believe that history is an important part, and this should change if we want a better future.

Titos Kolotas, Demetris Theodorou, Mimis Sophocleous: The 3 men are the pillars of preserving the history of Limassol, through organizing and reinforcing the Pattichion Municipal History Archives and Museum.

The story of the city, as well as its Archive, are promoted correctly?
For 12 years, we have been holding a historic symposium open to the public every year, where lectures and speeches on important topics are being held. Usually the first day we have about 200 people, but in the next few days, we don’t have more than 80 delegates. So we have to do much more to bring people closer. It takes a lot of support to organize the archive and to view the history of our city, it’s not something simple.

What would you like to be the future of this Archive?
The Archive should be funded more, not only by the city but also by the state, because it does not only concern the history of the city but the history of the whole island in general. Ideally, however, what should be done to keep up the archive with the modern technology and trends, is that historical material to be offered on a modern and comprehensive website. In this way every scholar, every Limassolian and every visitor can be informed at least electronically, without having to come here.

The internet is the only way today to get the young people to know the history of the city.

Do you think the internet is the way in which the Limassolian can get to know the history today?
Certainly for the young people it is. And it may be the only way today. The youngsters will not come here. But when they are on their computer and they know there is a reliable and complete archive online, they will check it. An electronic archive would be ideal.

Why is it important for a city to have a comprehensive history archive?
Because someone, and especially the youngsters, in order to feel, to respect and to love the city, they must first know its history and its past. Only in that way they can truly love the city and start planning its future. We hope for young people now and they are the ones who will take over from here.

Who do you think should be involved in this effort?
By duty, the Ministry of Education along with some educational organizations, the CUT as the city's university, the Limassol Municipality, the LCCI, and generally all those who are involved with the city. They all need to see how they can promote the preservation of the past.

Titos Kolotas’ steps end up where they first began, at the beginning of his own personal story, in Limassol. He tries to preserve the memories and the history, the moments that became a landmark for this city, in every way. Not because he is attached to the past or because he wishes to go back — he never looked back with nostalgia. He does it out of love for the city, for the future, for us. He insists that only through history we will be able to really love Limassol and see its future clearly. And as it happens with every story, in order to be able to remain alive in time, it should never stop being narrated.