Back

Makedonitissa Reborn after destruction

THE CYPRUS WEEKLY Nov. 23-29, 1979 PAGE 23 Makedonitissa Reborn after destruction If you decide to have lunch at Ma- kedonitissa on a Sunday, be sure to re- serve a table and be there half an hour before you are reaily hungry. “This is how if looked afier the Turks bombed my place”, says Loizos Hadji Anastassi, and points at a painting in the Makedonitissa dining room. Because the place gets very crowded--even though there are tables for some 700 people. What makes this out-of-town restaurant so popular? “I don't know, says the owner manager Mr Hadji Anastassi with a shrug of his shoulders and a certain smile. “But | guess it's the big portions we offer...and of course the food is good and it's always frash meat”. Situated a couple of miles outside Nicosia, Makedonitissa is like an oasis, with trees, running water and a pool, where one can relax while enjoy- ing a good meal. On Sun- days it gets more crowded because of wed- ding parties. Yet some 30 years back, the place “looked like a jungle”, says Mr Loi- zos, now in his 70's. And five years ago it was in complete ruins, when Turkish planes bombed it repeatedly. Loizos, who lives with his wife in a small house near the restaurant, rem- embers how Makedonitis- sa started. “It was back in the 1920's, he says, “whan | was a boy of 17 andl used to drive up here ina horse carriage with my uncle, the late Archbishop Gyril- los. The whole area here belonged to the Arch- bishopric. Church “There was a small church which was called Makedonitissa because it was reportedly built by monks from Macedonia. | came to like the place. “After spending years working at the Archbishopric (from 1920-1932) | went ta my farms near) Léfkoniko (Famagusta district) which | developed. Then | let it, came back to Nice- sia and used the money ta get a 30-year lease of Ma- kedonitissa from the late Archbishop Makarias II. It was a vast expanse of land covering 4,000 don- ums but which was wild, like a jungle. | planted acacia, eucalyptus and cypress trees and opened a dirt road to link the place with the main road to Nicosia airport. “That was in 1949, | used the fields for farming and animal breeding, | kept sheep, goats and cows. “But people used to drive up there to see the church, and wanted a 12 Laizos . place to sit and have a drink or something. So | built a shack which we used as @ small coffee- shop, “ina couple of years, more and more people used to come up to Ma- kedonitissa. | built an as- phalt road in 1952 and opened up a bigger place which gradually turned into a restaurant. | also started a kind of smali zoo, with lots of birds in cages, but they were alt killed during the war. so | abandoned it Napalm bombs Loizos remembers. the dark days of the sum- mer 1974, when his res- faurant and house were completely destroyed by Turkish bombings. I left Makedonitissa the previ- ous day and stayed at a hotel in Kalopanayotis on the mountains. Makedo- nitissa was shelled and bombed with Napalm bombs. Everything was destroyed. The damage must have been around £100,000, “The church was also hit badly. One bomb went right through the top of the dome, it started a fire inside the church but, as if by miracle, the icons rem ained untouched. “| then left Cyprus and spent a few weeks with friends at Salonika in Greece. It was there that | decided to come back and rebuild Makedonitis- sa. Everyone told me | was crazy. People would not come to Makedanitis- 8a again, they said, be- cause it was so near the confrontation line. In tact people living in the area had abandoned it. “But | came back spent a month repairing the church first. That was in November 1974. £60,000 Then in December | started building the res- taurant again. It cost me £60,000. | didn’t ragret it. in four or five months, we were back in business again, And peaple who lived in the area started coming back. Now more houses are going up in the neighbourhood, ever though the Turkish flags can be seen over the hill”. Many foreign visitors to the island who have eaten at Makedonitissa have been impressed by the serene and pictu- resqueé surroundings and the delicious roasted suckling pig and sougla- kokoretsi, the specialities of the restaurant. ! ——_—_—————_ll———eSEE—>= Loizos Hadji Anastassi. the man who made Ma- kedonitissa what it is today. Mr Loizos says: continue farming and ani- mal breeding at Makeda- nitissa up until this day. But the size of the land has shrunk. The late Archbishop Makarios asked me some years ago to give back to the Arch- bishopric a big chunk of the land which was sold as building plots then they used more land for the International State Fair and later the Makari- on Stadium. But he as- sured methat| could have Makedonitissa for good, until my death”,