No ordinary Archbishop lived here, but Archbishop Makarios III himself. His giant black statue overshadows the square in front of the faux Venetian palace he once occupied. Archbishop Makarios was the foundation of Cypriot independence. His return to the island, celebrated by thousands of cheering Cypriots, marked the end of colonialism.
He is a controversial figure, however, especially for his support of unification with Greece. His efforts were the trigger for the Turkish invasion in 1974, ostensibly in support of the Turkish Cypriot minority who didn't want to become part of Greece. The palace became a battle ground during these times as the Greek Cypriot freedom fighters (the EOKA) battled with Turkish Cypriots intent on killing the Archbishop. The palace was almost destroyed during the fighting.
This is the same statue of Archbishop Makarios that can be seen outside if the Archbishops Palace.
Archbishop Makarios III, was born Michael Mouskos in 1913. At first he was a shepherd before becoming a trainee priest at Kykko Monastery in the Troodos Mountains (in Cyprus).
When he became a bishop, he took on the name Makarios (a popular surname with Greek Cypriots) meaning 'blessed'.
In 1952, Makarios was involved in setting up EOKA - an organisation whose goal was 'Enosis' - which meant uniting Cyprus with Greece. This obviously didn't go down too well with non-Greeks on the island, including the British who were controlling the island at the time. As the struggle got more violent, Makarios was deported to the Seychelles.
In 1959, Makarios accepted the British offer of Independence for Cyprus and returned to the Island (This despite his earlier goal of union with Greece).
Trouble flared up between the Greek and Turkish communities, and in mid 1974 - after an attempt was made on Makarios' life, Turkey invaded Cyprus and annexed the North part of the Island resulting in many people becoming refugees in their own country. Even today, the North is not recognised as a state by any country other than Turkey although the UN, EU and countless others have tried to find resolutions to the problem.
Makarios died in 1977 of a heart attack and was buried on top of Throni Hill in the Troodos Mountains. During his funeral there was heavy rain. The Greeks saw this as a sign of God crying. The Turks saw it as a sign that his sins were being washed away.
The present day Archbishops Palace is a fairly modern building. The previous building on this site was blown up in July 1974, when an attempt was made to kill the then president of Cyprus, the Greek-Cypriot Archbishop Makarios.
The huge statue out the front of the building is the aforementioned ex-President Archbishop Makarios. The statue itself seems to be controversial even with the Greek Cypriots today, and I have known several who want to remove it.