The last residence of Pavlos Melas, one of Greece’s greatest war heroes who fought during the Macedonian struggle, will be handed over to the Evelpidon [Hellenic Military] School on October 14, 2020, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Culture. In fact, this day is of particular importance as it will be 116 years since his death in Siatista.
The last residence of Melas, located in Kifissia, was visited on Friday afternoon by the Minister of National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos, the Deputy Minister of National Defense Alkiviadis Stefanis and the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, who talked with the granddaughter of Pavlos Melas, Natalia Ioannidis.
The announcement of the Ministry of Culture in detail:
The Minister of National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni and the Deputy Minister of National Defense Alkiviadis Stefanis visited the house of Pavlos Melas in Kifissia on Friday afternoon. They were welcomed by Pavlos Melas’ granddaughter, Mrs. Natalia Ioannidi, who moved the Ministers and their associates with her -all vivid- stories.
It was the summer residence of the Melas family in Kifissia. Kifissia was a popular holiday centre of the bourgeois society of Athens in the 19th century.
In August 1904, with the intervention of Prime Minister Georgios Theotokis, Pavlos Melas was appointed head of the corps operating in the area of the Kastoria, as well as Monastiraki (Bitola), today located north of Greece’s borders. He left this house in secrecy, saying goodbye only to his children. He was sure he would not return.
It is a small-scale building with clear references to the graphic style of European cottage architecture of the mid-19th century. The building with a mixed area of 198m2 is single storey, tiled and slightly elevated from the ground. It consists of a large living room with a fireplace and in the layout – left and right – there are four large, high-ceilinged rooms, in which the original colours and floor decoration are preserved. There are auxiliary spaces. It is one meter above the ground, which ensured its tightness.
The cottage was abandoned in the 1980’s. In 1982 it was declared a monument by the Ministry of Culture and was left to time. The restoration is done with absolute precision thanks to the existing designs, the rich photographic material, but also the living testimony of Ioannidis, who spent her summers in this house of her grandmother, with her brother.
Ioannidis donated the house of Pavlos Melas to the Ministry of National Defence. Its restoration, after the legal approvals by the competent bodies of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
In 1907, three years after the death of P. Melas, Ionas Dragoumis published – under the pseudonym “Idas” – the book Blood of Martyrs and Heroes, which narrates his course and actions in Macedonia. Long before Macedonia’s accession to the Greek state, Pavlos Melas had become a national hero and a symbol of the Macedonian Struggle.
On August 21, 1904, Melas was photographed by Larissa photographer Gerasimos Dafnopoulos, armed and in uniform, dressed in a black embroidered wardrobe. He sent the first copy of the photograph to his wife, “on condition that it did not see the light of day,” but to be remembered by herself and his children if he lost his life in his mission. “It would be ‘comical’ and ‘martyrdom’,” he wrote, “if he returned unharmed.”
The same photo – in magnification – is located at the entrance of the house of Ioannidis, who welcomed the ministers, saying that “now the house of Pavlos Melas is in the best and most competent hands, which would give him great joy and satisfaction.”
The Melas house, a part of the life of a great Greek and Macedonian warrior, who sacrificed himself at the age of 34, will be handed over to the Evelpidon School on October 14. It is the day that 116 years have passed since his death in Siatista, from the fire of an Ottoman detachment, although the circumstances under which he died remain unclear.