NAAFI: Unfulfilled Dream of One Cypriot Businessman

NAAFI: несбывшаяся мечта кипрского бизнесмена
2 March 2022 Liza Medvetskaya

Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus, the center of prestige and business activity, where the largest port of the island is located.

There are about 15 districts in it, each of which has its own name and conditional territorial boundaries. Today we will talk about NAAFI.

Surely everyone who has lived in Limassol for at least a couple of months has heard about it. Many people associate the area with the famous dilapidated Fysco Lotus Plaza building and the popular Stephanis store. However, few people know what it used to be and where it got its name from.

The abbreviation NAAFI stands for "Institutions of the Navy, Army and Air Force." NAAFI is an organization specially created by the British government in 1921 to manage various establishments that provided goods and services (clubs, bars, shops, supermarkets, laundries, restaurants, cafes, etc.) to military personnel and their families. In other words, something like a military trade.

In Limassol, the term "Naafi" meant shops where the families of British soldiers bought things necessary for their needs. The largest number of such points was located north of Makarios Avenue and up to Spyros Kyprianou Avenue. Actually, because of them, the area began to be called "Naafi".

Recall that in 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, which had previously been managed by a foreign company with British and French shareholders.

This decision was the cause of the famous "Suez crisis". Relations between the UK and Egypt deteriorated rapidly. And since the British did not want to lose control of the region, Cyprus acquired great value for them. This was the reason why the British military began to come to Limassol for permanent residence with their families who needed housing.

The central areas of Limassol were not suitable for British living. Therefore, new areas were actively built for them – mainly to the north of Gladstonos Street and above Makarios Avenue.

The British either bought houses or rented real estate from Cypriots, who actively invested in housing construction.

As for Naafi, the initiator of the construction of residential facilities in this part of the city was businessman and landowner Petros Ioannis Tsiros.

He wanted to make the area one of the most modern and prosperous in the city, so he ordered the project from the architectural bureau of Fotis Kolakidis. The agency's employees designed private homes, as well as a commercial and community center — shops, clinics, a library, a kindergarten and a family club called The Island Club.

By the way, it was in The Island Club that one of the first swimming pools in Cyprus was equipped, which was not private, but public. 

Residential blocks were built around the commercial and public center.

Investors had the opportunity to choose a plot of land, as well as one of 13 options for house projects. They built mostly detached houses, duplexes and maisonettes. At the same time, with the possibility of future expansion upwards. The architecture of the houses followed the fashion and standards of the 1960s. They also had a unique design from Fotis Kolakidis.

It is noteworthy that the developer assured interested investors that the houses have already been leased to British families, so the return on their investments is guaranteed. The Cypriots were bribed by this and they willingly invested money in construction.

In general, the Naafi district was created from scratch for the needs of a certain community. For Cyprus, this was a rarity, one could even say "know-how".

Unlike other districts of the city, "Naafi" was supposed to be a comfortable place to live, where everything was thought out to the smallest detail. Including infrastructure. The architects developed a project centered on the commercial and social core of the district – schools, banks, shops, cafes, etc.

The main idea was that the future residents of Naafi would have all the necessary and important services within walking distance. Interestingly, later attempts were made to create a shopping center that would serve the area or even most of the city. However, this idea was never implemented.

The heyday of the development of the district occurred in the 1960s -1970s. However, unfortunately, the invasion of the Turks in 1974 caused Naafi to quickly decline.

After the division of the island, the British began to massively sell their real estate in this part of the city, fearing for the unstable situation in the country. Modern houses and shops were no longer built here.

To this day, only the name has survived from the former rapidly developing area, which can be used to judge its past, and some examples of Cypriot modernism of that time.

Several retail stores can still be found in the center. But The Island Club, unfortunately, was demolished. The houses built by Petros Tsiros are now mostly inhabited by Cypriots. The appearance of the district is changing day by day. There are few new houses in the area.

And it is now possible to imagine what the Naafi district, also known as "little London", was like only from photographs.

Have you decided to buy an apartment or a house in Cyprus? Contact DOM! The website offers a large selection of real estate —residential and commercial. Experienced agency specialists will be happy to help you make the right choice.

See also:

  1. Buying property in Cyprus for cryptocurrency
  2. Elite Island Properties: Continuing Middle Eastern traditions in Cyprus
  3. Permanent residence in Cyprus
  4. Closer to the stars: what do the most luxurious penthouses in Cyprus look like
  5. Land Registry Department in Cyprus
  6. Cyprus Developers Alliance (CDA Group): affordable luxury in Cyprus
  7. How do I get a Title to a real estate property in Cyprus on my own?
Photos: DOM,
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