On the night of October 13th 2020, the Ministry of National Defence presented the restored Residence of Pavlos Melas in Kifissia, which has been renovated and is delivered to the service of the Nation and the People as a monument of contemporary history.
The ceremony was honoured by the presence of the President of the Republic, Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who stated that she is deeply moved on one hand by the work that was carried out at the historical Residence donated by the Hero’s granddaughter, Ms. Natalia Ioannidi to the Ministry of National Defence and on the other hand due to the fact that yesterday was the day of the 116th anniversary of the death of Pavlos Melas at the age of 34.
The ceremony was held in presence also of the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Mr. Konstantinos Tasoulas, the former Prime Minister Mr. Antonis Samaras, the Metropolitan Kyrillos of Kifissia – Amarousio & Oropos, representing the venerable Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece, the Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, the Minister of Culture Ms. Lina Mendoni, the Deputy Minister of Tax Policy and Public Property Mr. Apostolos Vesyropoulos, the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Alkiviadis Stefanis, the Chief HAGS Lieutenant General Charalampos Lalousis, the MoD’s Secretary General Mr. Antonios Oikonomou, the Member of the Parliament for Drama with Movement for Change (KINAL) party Ms. Chara Kefalidou and representatives from Local Authorities.
The Residence was designed by Pavlos Melas himself and was built in 1894, in which year his first child – Mikis – was born. It is a particular and unique example of cottage architecture of the 19th century of the Athens suburbs. This residence has been a refugee for Pavlos, Natalia and their children – Mikis and Zoe – during the last nine years of his life. It had a “family” nature, just as Pavlos and Natalia chose for their house to have.
In the course of time, the house was inhabited by his spouse Natalia, and then by their daughter Zoe Mela – Ioannidi, to pass later on into the hands of their granddaughter Natalia Ioannidi.
The Residence went through a long period of “silence” from the 80’s, being the target of attacks and vandalisms that aggravated its already bad state. The building was falling down and its image had been altered.
In 2009, with the intervention of the former Minister of Culture Mr. Antonis Samaras, it was considered a “listed recent monument”. The first protection “shields” had been placed. In 2012, during the government of Mr. Samaras, the Ministry of Culture gave another small breath of life. Strengthening and protection works were carried out and the wooden exterior decoration was saved from collapse.
Ms. Ioannidi, following the family’s tradition and in a spirit of love for the Country and the Armed Forces signed the donation to the Ministry of National Defence in February 2020 stating: “The Residence is a national monument and national monuments are guarded by the Armed Forces”.
The Ministry of National Defence undertook its immediate restoration courtesy of the Non-Profit Civil Partnership of Drama “KYKLOPS”, which chose a team of experts and scientists for the purpose of restoring it in its previous form.
Throughout the restoration and completion procedure, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Ministry of Finance, public and municipal services, but also ordinary citizens have been supportive. Today, the Residence of the Hero Second Lieutenant Pavlos Melas is once again back like he imagined it and first designed it himself.
During his address, the Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos noted the following:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
I was here when the restoration work started and we made a symbolic foundation. Being here today and with the completed project before us, I must confess I am very impressed. The result is fascinating. It is truly a labor of love. And it is a labor of love because after more than a hundred years from the heroic death of Pavlos Melas, in the Macedonian land soaked in blood and sweat, his memory is kept alive, a symbol of national pride and sheer patriotism. Because Pavlos Melas belongs to the Pantheon of Heroes of the Greek History.
All those who are fighting today on a daily basis on land, at sea and in the air, defending national ideals and the country’s sovereign rights draw strength from his example and his sacrifice. Pavlos Melas’ participation and influence over the Macedonian Struggle has been decisive.
His services towards the Nation and the Country are invaluable. His personal but also his family contribution to the Macedonian Struggle make him its leader, but also an example of a Greek patriot. And he is an example, because in order to commit himself to the fight, he turned his back.
He turned his back to the comfortable life of an offspring of an upper-middle class Athenian family, like he was.
He turned his back to a secured military, possibly political, career and committed himself to the fight and he gave his life to it.
Therefore, the restoration of his Residence and its delivery to the new generations of Greeks, in addition to the powerful symbolism, constitutes a springboard for future cultural activities that will be honoring the Macedonian Struggle and National awakening, since the liberation of Macedonia and the subsequent extension of Greece in the first half of the 20th century is inextricably linked to Pavlos Melas.
Today, 116 years since his death in Siatista – Kozani by fire of an Ottoman detachment, the restoration of his Residence has been completed; a Residence designed by himself, in order to spend with his family the last years of his life. Through this restoration, we pay tribute to the Hero Pavlos Melas and his family.
However, I must also give some credits for this exceptional project. I should particularly thank the sponsors of the restoration works, since without their assistance, the delivery of Pavlos Melas’ residence so quickly would not be possible.
Your Excellency the President of the Republic, distinguished guests, Mister Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, here is another example where the rapid involvement of the private sector in a project like this achieves effectiveness and speed, and as you can see, this wonderful image.
Moreover, I must commend the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Mr. Alkiviadis Stefanis. He regarded the completion of this project as his personal business. He has worked on this with the enthusiasm and efficiency that overcomes him in whatever he does. He deserves to take credit for that. All I had to do was to support this initiative, this effort; and I did that with great pleasure.
Concluding, I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart Ms. Natalia Ioannidi for her donation to the Ministry of National Defence and I would like to reassure her that we will preserve the inheritance that she entrusted to us in every way. Within the Armed Forces, I believe that this inheritance is in very good hands.
In her brief address, Pavlos Melas’ granddaughter Ms. Natalia Ioannidi referred to the Residence’s history, characterizing it as an “ark on land, wisely built”, as well as to the timeline of efforts for its restoration. The restoration was carried out courtesy of the Non-Profit Civil Partnership of Drama “Kyklops” and in his brief address, its Chairman Mr. Aris Theodoridis underlined that his contribution to the preservation of a national monument is an honour for him.
The ceremony ended with the projection of a 3D film and the first tour inside Pavlos Melas’ residence, which was held in small groups in compliance with the precautionary measures issued by the National Public Health Organization (EODY) against Covid-19.
The President of the Republic, the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament, the former Prime Minister, Ministers and Members of the Parliament had the chance to look at Pavlos Melas’ personal effects, an exact replica of his uniform, the Hero’s hologram writing the letter to Evelpides and records of photographs, publications and letters after his death.