The ‘nostalgic of the future’ Mimis Sofocleous explains why Limassol needed the Archives

* NOTE: All the tributes of All About Limassol (as the Official Guide of Limassol) aim to ONLY highlight the special aspects of this wonderful city, so that everyone can be aware of the unique Experiences it offers. Under no circumstances do they have any promotional or nominal value, nor do they serve the interests of Companies, Municipalities, Organizations or Individuals.

Mimis Sofocleous is a genuine child of Limassol. He was brought up in a house with a balcony on the promenade, when the pier had nothing and no one suspected the glamour the region would acquire. Lover of the arts and music, a pioneer in many student bands, present in the groups of serenaders, Mimis grew to be distinguished, eventually, as a servant of literature and sciences.

From Limassol to Athens and from there to Australia and Singapore. He managed to study in high school thanks to an "advance" salary from Euripides coffee shop, the poor man who agreed to do something that many others refused, giving the opportunity to the young Mimis to the first steps for higher education. Mimis Sofocleous returned many years later in Limassol, to set up the University of Technology, a few meters away from where the shop of Euripides used to be, giving back to the city 1 University and 1 Historical Archive.

"I felt a guilt that I had not done anything for my city"
The Limassol Municipality was considering the foundation of the Archive since 1973. In 2005, when Mayor was Dimitris Kontidis, Mimis Sofocleous wondered about the development of this idea. "In Melbourne I had worked with Diaspora History and Education Archives, which exhibits how the migrant community in Australia was developed”, he said. There he acquired the expertise that he needed to use in Limassol, while several years earlier he had also presented a study on the prospect of a city Archive, following a call from the House of Letters and Arts.

"What I knew from my experience I brought it to Limassol", the scientific director of the Historical Archive explains. Besides, he was always taking pictures, always sought, collected and indexed material about the history of the city. "I felt a guilt that I had done nothing until then for my city," he admits.

"We met with Nikos Pattichis, the doner, who saw the proposal - presentation of 120 pages and he consented to fully cover all costs for the preparation of the Archive", recalls Mimis Sofocleous. With a generous donation by Nikos and Despina Pattihis Foundation, the former residence of the British governor and then house of the District Administrator, was converted into Pattichion Municipal Museum.

"I am nostalgic of the future"
In 2011, the Pattichion Municipal Museum and Historical Archive, was true. Its importance of the city is inestimable. "History teaches us the sense of history," said Mimis Sofokleous who does not feel nostalgic for "the past", just because he knows it too well. He does have faith, though, to the creative spirit and openness of the city's residents, which is the cohesive element for all ages. The self-determination of the Limassolians is not arbitrary because it is based on several elements which constitute a solid base of self-knowledge and self-presentation.

"When we first started I appealed to the Limassol audience to come as volunteers and learn archiving, history, museology. About 70 people responded, from young to older ages - some of whom have died today", said Mimis Sofokleous. It seems that the city had many historians, even before creating the Archive. "Tasos Andreou, Titos Kolotas, Athos Tillyris are the figures that have contributed significantly to the collection of material and the capture of Limassol's history," he says.

"Titos Kolotas, in particular, as a member of the Municipal Council, but with several contacts, too, back from the 1980s, he initiated the procedure, in order for this achievement to come to life. At first, he had to convince the Municipality to make the final decision, showcasing the need for the creation of such a foundation, to preserve the city’s history, and then he had to encourage the donor, Nicos Pattichis, to support the foundation financially. His contribution was especially needed for the District Administrator House to be given to the Limassol Municipality for this particular purpose", says Mimis Sofocleous, stressing that the foundation of the Archives did not happen overnight and many efforts were made towards its implementation.

*Mimis Sofoclious with Eva Giannoukou, Content Manager of All About Limassol, in Marina Breeze, at the Limassol Marina, recognizing elements of the past even in the  most modern corners of the city.

So, Limassol created a hybrid foundation, combining the Municipal Museum, the Historical Archive and Research Center with educational programs together. The cost for the operation of the museum and the Archive, comes exclusively from the Limassol Municipality and in a very small part, from donations of friends.

"Stradivarius made a violin that did not have a violinist to play it"
A fan of starting at minimum, not maximum, the scientific director of Pattichion Municipal Museum and the Historical Archive is not worried about what happens next. The important thing is that the beginning has been made. "I do not mind even if the effort is then dissolved, if it does not find someone to continue it," he says, although he knows that there is a background in the city, as well as many young scientists able to act.

"My idol is Stradivarius. He made a violin in 1716, which did not have a violinist to play it. This violin was used like it should by the Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, who managed to pull out of this instrument its value last year. Stradivarius, unfortunately, will not ever heard of", he explains.

*The Pattichion Municipal Museum, Historical Archive and Research Center

The dynamics of the Archive
At the same time, however, the Archive shows its dynamics that certainly raise some optimism for its development. Although few, the staff plays a key role. Dimitris Theodorou, coming from the branch of economic studies, is the man who managed to digitize and archive the wealth that is kept today in the Archives.

"A man with a passion that is put entirely into the work," Mimis Sofokleous will say. Without previous experience in this field, he devoted himself from the beginning and today is the man who can be a blindfolded guide - literally and figuratively - in the Archives and the exhibits. Now, the Museum hosts several items of unique historical importance and a remarkable number of photographic collections, some of which have thousands of pictures of the past lives of the city.

Along with the testament of the people who live and breathe the history of the town, Limassol is able to preserve and promote its identity, while moving towards new, brighter and important moments of its historical course.

Since Limassol has, indeed, a distinct identity, which, according to Mimis Sofokleous, is composed of 4 elements:
: In this color all houses were painted with once.

The mandolin: Mandolin and guitar, the sound of Serenaders, the melodies of carnival songs, is the sound of the city.

Commandaria: The smell of Commandaria is the perfume that for years exuded the streets of Limassol.

People: The soul, the city's wings are those who listen to the city’s call through, those who appreciate the tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the current, recognizing it as familiar.

*The Old Port area, around 1 century ago.

Mimis Sofocleous wants to see much change in Limassol. He wants it greener, with fountains, as the one that used to be at the roundabout of Agios Nikolaos, with beautiful buildings, old and new, neat and clean. This cosmopolitan, who has never been a tourist, always thought of how the most beautiful elements of the landscapes he has seen, would look in Limassol.

The Archive, the Museum, the history is a solid bond with the past that he wants to see evolve. He admits that his generation did great harm to the country. Thus, tradition, heritage are not meant to be a weight for young people’s backs, but a driving force, inspiration and historical consciousness, to illuminate with wisdom the steps made into the future.

Moving towards this direction, the Archive makes the step into its online form and opening up to a wide audience. The legacy and the wealth accumulated, through the modern digital tools of the Official Limassol City Guide, All About Limassol, are presented to its thousands of visitors daily. Thus, through the Limassol Memories, one discovers all those that happened in the decades that have passed, following Limassol to its course to become the city it is today.