RESTORATION AND UPGRADE OF THE MUNICIPAL MARKET (AGORA)
AND CREATION OF NEW PIAZZA
AGORA IN THE ‘50s
The Municipal Market is a listed stone building consisting of halls and shops of total area 3000 m2, covering a building square in the old centre. The market was originally constructed in 1917, at a period when Lemesos was booming ,and gradually expanded to its present form by 1947. The Market along with the surrounding traditional shops and restaurants had been the centre of trade and social activities until the late 70’s when it started losing its importance due to the fast expansion of the town and the creation of shopping centres in the periphery.
The restoration and upgrade of the Market became a priority for the municipality in its efforts to revive the old centre and reinforce its identity. The design of the project started in 1998 and the following objectives were set:
- Continuation of the existing Market activities and traditional professions which are part of our cultural heritage and identity.
- Introduction of new functions of culture and entertainment that attract a broader spectrum of people during day and night and contribute to the revival of the centre.
- Restoration and earthquake strengthening of the historic building, which is one of the most important samples of our public architecture.
- Creation of new job opportunities by renting working places to small traders, traditional food makers and artists.
Before the works started, there were four large Halls in which many of the food stalls were empty. The project provided for the relocation of all food sellers into the Main Hall in an ergonomic layout. The Main Hall is already in use after the completion of its restoration, earthquake strengthening and upgrade of hygienic conditions. The southern shops have also been completed and are in use. The remaining three empty Halls are being restored and upgraded to accommodate the following new functions:
- A traditional coffee shop and Mageiria – restaurants serving traditional local cooked food and local wines.
- Galleria – Passage with shops and workshops for small artists and handicraft makers, both traditional and contemporary.
- Music Stage and a Youth centre.
Outside the building in an empty space, a piazza has been created that will accommodate open-air daily and festive activities.
Within this magnificent multi-functional space several different groups of people work, meet and have the opportunity to exchange knowledge, experiences and attitudes.
The Market has survived in its old character together with the cultural heritage which is closely related with the traditional local products and professions.
The residents of the area have gained new interest in their neighbourhood and their shopping has become more pleasant. The number of customers has increased. Young traders have rented working places in the Market and sell traditional products. The tourists become observers of the products, the people and the culture. The artists, and intellectuals can meet and interact. The young people have the chance to come into contact with the local cultural wealth.
The project is financially sustainable and will pay back its construction cost. It is a good example of restoration and use of a listed building and many other listed buildings in the area are following its example. The urban environment is being revitalized both in internal and external spaces. The quality of life in the town is improving.
The Market and the surrounding spaces become again a centre of attraction. The people of the city rediscover the lost identity of the urban environment through the revival of the cultural heritage.