Artist: Ioannis Notaras
Location: Nikiforos Phokas street, Podocataro Bastion, Nicosia. Nicosia district
Material: Bronze, Pentelic marble
Category: ΕΟΚΑ 1955-59
Photography: Evangelia Matthopoulou
Makarios III took the decision for the monument in 1957 when, during his time in Athens after his exile in Seychelles, he came to know the sculptor Ioannis Notaras. After the Zurich-London treaty was signed in 1959, the commission was officially placed.
The works for the memorial started in 1961 in Athens. By 1966 the fourteen statues were ready and in 1967 they were cast in bronze in Florence, Italy. They were shipped to Cyprus and kept in the Archbishopric premises. The location for the monument, across the headquarters of the Archbishopric and only meters away from the Green Line of partition, was decided in 1967 after the sculptor visited Nicosia. The whole construction was concluded in July 1974, a few days prior to the 1974 Coup and the Turkish Invasion. For this reason an official unveiling never took place. In 1987 the Cypriot Parliament officially renamed the “Liberty Monument” to “Memorial to EOKA struggle”.
The monument is composed on consecutive levels of platforms and forms a triangular synthesis where the main volume of the narration evolves at the base, around the mausoleum or prison. The idea of freedom, personified in the prevailing archaic figure in the upper part of the monument, is materialized through the EOKA fighters in the middle part, and gives its fruition, freedom, in the bottom part.
Liberty’s figure is depicted according to the distinct classic aesthetics, in its fluidity of volumes and refinement of gestures. She stands still and imperious on a high pedestal on the top of the construction. She holds part of her pleated himation around her left forearm, while pointing towards the sky with her right arm, thus constituting a sharp antithesis with the narrative realistic figures at the base. Liberty’s chiton and himation, along with her headdress, evoke direct connotations with the Greek primordial cultural traditions, whilst the ordinary clothing and features of the peasants below her bridge the past with the ephemeral present. These statues depict representative types of the Cypriot society. The priest, the teacher, the mother, the daughter, the EOKA fighters describe in a snapshot the aspirations of the Cypriot society. The white marble of the construction underlines further the concepts of spiritual purity and eternity, as do the contrasts between Liberty’s expressionless, idealistic face and the faces of the ordinary Cypriots which are sealed with traces of malaise.
According to the initial models, the figures of Makarios III and Georgios Grivas were making part of the lower part of the composition. This arrangement seems to have changed in 1965 and two bronze amphora were planned to take their places. According to Notaras’ letter in October 1965 “the prevailing figure shows with her finger the way to union and gazes towards it. In addition, the two EOKA fighters who lift the iron door of the prison open widely the path that leads to Union and Freedom”. According to other sources the gesture of her hand insinuates the faith to God.
~ Αγών (Agon), June 28, 1972, p. 1.
~ Φιλελεύθερος (Fileleftheros), August 28, 1968, p. 3.
~ Κρατικό Αρχείο Κύπρου, Αρχείο Πολιτιστικών Υπηρεσιών Υπουργείου Παιδείας & Πολιτισμού (State Archive of Cyprus): E11/545, documents September 6, 1965; September 13, 1965; October 10, 1965.
~ Κρατικό Αρχείο Κύπρου, Αρχείο Πολιτιστικών Υπηρεσιών Υπουργείου Παιδείας & Πολιτισμού (State Archive of Cyprus): 268/1968/2, document November 10, 1972.
~ Κρατικό Αρχείο Κύπρου, Αρχείο Πολιτιστικών Υπηρεσιών Υπουργείου Παιδείας & Πολιτισμού (State Archive of Cyprus): 268/1968/4, June 8, 1984.
~ Ιστορικό Αρχείο ΣΙΜΑΕ (Historical Archive of the Board for the Historical Memory of the EOKA 1955-59 struggle), 17.2009.10, document May 12, 2009; Meeting Minutes May 7, 2009.
~ Αρχείο Δήμου Λευκωσίας (Nicosia Municipality Archive), 0672 06-7/1 to 06-7/3, Γ.21/77/1, doc. no110.