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Feature – Unravelling the story behind the names of the Presidency halls
13.08.2012, 13:18 (CET)
During the first month of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU, the ‘Filoxenia’ Conference Centre welcomed over 2,000 visitors and hosted 14 meetings, almost half the total number of meetings held in Cyprus that month. The ‘Filoxenia’, along with the ‘CYPRESS’ Media Centre do not merely serve as a hub for visiting journalists and delegates, but also provide a welcoming space for visitors to be introduced to the island of Cyprus and its legacy. To this end, the halls of the Conference and Media Centres have been allocated names which reflect the island’s rich history.

In what the Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis describes as a “process of collective reflection”, the naming of the halls of the ‘Filoxenia’ and the ‘CYPRESS’ signified much more than a mere random branding procedure.

Getting the name right

“When it came to naming the halls of the ‘Filoxenia’ and the ‘CYPRESS’, nothing was left to chance because through the selection of names we wanted to pass on a series of different messages, while at the same time making an ode to the island, its nature and distinguished personalities”, says Ambassador Mavroyiannis.

Careful thought was also placed in the names of the buildings. ‘Filoxenia’ reflects one of the Cyprus Presidency’s key messages; that of hospitality. ‘CYPRESS’ combines the name of the island Cyprus, the members of the Press - who are the people the Centre aims to serve - and a prominent feature of the island, the cypress tree.

Three halls are named after natural elements from the Cyprus environment (olive tree, copper and jasmine) while seven carry the names of some of the island’s areas which are under Turkish occupation.

The main plenary and press conference rooms are named after two important personalities of Cyprus and the European Union; the ancient Cypriot philosopher Zenon Kitievs and the inspiring late European diplomat, Jean Monnet.

Zenon, who hailed from ancient Kition (Larnaca) and lived between 334 BC and 262 BC, was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy and is regarded as one of the greatest men in the island’s history.


Referring to the selection of these two particular names, Ambassador Mavroyiannis explains that “we wanted to honour one of the most eminent personalities of the island’s Greek cultural heritage and also the founding father of European unification.”

Hinting at the horizon

The largest restaurant and lounge has been named ‘Pentadaktylos’, after the mountain on the northern part of Cyprus (five Finger Mountain). Taking its name from Cypriot folklore which dates back to the Byzantine times and the invasion of the Saracens, the Pentadaktylos Mountain has traditionally been a subject of inspiration and nostalgia.

“Through the names there is a clin d’œil (hint) to some of the island’s areas that are no longer accessible due to the Turkish occupation, with the most stand-out example being the mountain of Pentadaktylos which is visible from the windows of the namesake restaurant”, says the Deputy Minister.

In similar spirit, the work stations, press rooms and interpreters’ lounge bear the names of cities and areas such as Ammochostos, Morfou, Karpasia, Bellapais and Karavas, while an auditorium is named after one of the most ancient cities of Cyprus, Kerynia.

Elements of the Cyprus land

A dimension of Cyprus that features prominently in the names of the halls is that of the island’s nature and environment. Looking to appeal to all five senses needed to create a memorable Cypriot experience, three restaurants and lounges were given the names of Elia (olive tree), Halkos (copper) and Yiasemi (jasmine).

“In the case of Yiasemi, we decided on this name after searching for a word that is common to all of the island’s people and which represents an element of Cyprus that is deeply rooted in the history and culture of all Cypriots”, according to Ambassador Mavroyiannis.

Jasmine, which constitutes one of the most famous Cypriot garden plants, has a sweet scent that is prominent during the summer months in Cyprus.

The reference to the olive tree and copper goes beyond their traditional central role in shaping the history of the island, either as a major agricultural product or a mercantile defining resource.

“The cultural connotations and significance of these two elements of the Cyprus land are tremendous and this is reflected in their presence on the Cyprus flag”, notes the Deputy Minister, as the olive branch symbolises peace while copper, which gave its name to the island in ancient times, also gives its colour on the map of Cyprus found on the flag.

On the whole, this “process of collective reflection” involved in coming up with the names promotes a variety of messages paying tribute to the island. This serves as an introduction to the rich culture and history of Cyprus for the thousands expected to visit these Cyprus Presidency facilities in the coming months.

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