Ledra Palace: Dancing on the Line

Come to think of it, maybe thats when my passion for hotels and hospitality began…

As a (very) young child, I would hear my parents discuss every now and then, the happenings at this “Palace Hotel”, sounding mythical at the time. Before the Turkish invasion of 1974, it used to be “the place to see and to be seen” of the high society of Nicosia. Balls, weddings and all kinds of gatherings were hosted there and they were regularly featured in the society pages of newspapers, long before social media! Newspapers inlcuded of course Asyrmatos of Sunday, which was published by my uncle Dinos.

Invitation, menus from formal dinners and events, programmes and photographs from the hotel, 1950-1960

Christmas at the Ledra Palace, 1954

The Ledra Palace’s pool in use during the addition of new floors, 4 July 1967

Children’s carnival party at the hotel, c. 1967

If we could think of a building that best represents the impressive development of modernity in Cyprus and, at the same time, the turbulent recent history of the island, that would undoubtedly be the Ledra Palace Hotel in Nicosia. The Ledra Palace embodies and exemplifies the cosmopolitan and multicultural character of the city, while its own history simultaneously reflects the social and political developments on the island.

The exhibition Ledra Palace: Dancing on the Line, organised by the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia and the CYENS Centre of Excellence, explores this ‘palace-like’ hotel as a place of memory, history, culture and politics and invites the visitor to see the hotel through the eyes of various protagonists: guests, employees, architects, artists, soldiers, United Nations staff and many others.

In the Temporary Exhibitions Room of the Museum, exhibits, memories and stories of people who lived in or have personal experiences of the Ledra Palace relate, on the one hand, the adventurous recent history of the island and, on the other, reveal modernity in Cyprus. The exhibition aims to ‘revive’ the history of the Ledra Palace in a multivocal and multidimensional way and, through this story, to induce the visitor to discuss the modern events of Cyprus. In parallel, it aspires to honour Nicosia, as well as to demonstrate modernity in Cyprus. The history of the Ledra Palace unfolds another narrative: that of modernism and an intense, cosmopolitan social life. Oral testimonies, in combination with private photographs and objects, take the lead in this process. The exhibition is not confined to the ‘golden era’ of the Ledra Palace as a hotel or to its interesting social history, but it spans from the establishment of the hotel until today, proving that the personal, the social and the political are always interconnected.

It should be noted that the exhibition could not have been realised without the kind loans of photographs, objects and various testimonial material from foundations, organisations and private collectors, as well as from those who worked or lived in the Ledra Palace.

Emerging technologies and innovative applications developed by the CYENS Centre of Excellence have an important role in this exhibition. They bring to life the history of the hotel, which, due to its conversion into UN barracks and its location in the Buffer Zone, is no longer easily accessible. Technology will help older people to remember and younger people to know what the luxury Ledra Palace Hotel looked like more than 70 years ago – to travel in time to a period starting from the creation of the Ledra Palace and reaching up to today.

The exhibition was curated by Loukia Loizou Hadjigavriel, Antigone Heraclidou and Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert, while the general coordination was organised by the Director of the Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, Demetra Theodotou Anagnostopoulou, and the curator Maria Patsalosavvi.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication rich in essays and photographs provided by academics and researchers who have approached the Ledra Palace Hotel from various points of view.

During the exhibition, physical and online tours, presentations and educational programmes will take place.

Duration: 1 June – 31 October 2021

Location: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, Temporary Exhibitions Room,

15-17 Ippokratous St, Laiki Geitonia, 1011 Nicosia

Visiting hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10.00-16.30

Organisers: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia, CYENS Centre of Excellence

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