Anexartisias, just think how much in this word is… incomprehensible, jawbreaking and forgettable. Even now, when I started with the writing of this article, I googled first to check, how to write this name in a correct way. By the way, the word “Anexartisias” is translated from Greek as “independence”. The same name carries the main street of Limassol. Today we offer you a very detailed guide through this priceless (in all ways) place known by every citizen of coastal capital.
Actually, the history of the street is the same as the one of the whole old town. It experienced growth and development until 80es. After that time new parts of the city and shopping malls were built all around Limassol drawing the main focus of attention from it and the street went into decline. Now it experiences a slow going renaissance.
The process is slow because along with stimulating factors there are few, which hinder the growth. On the one hand there are many more shopping malls in the country. And just one full-fledged in Limassol. Together with a bunch of small ones. Each of them bites off its own piece of pie, but something still remains left for street business to snack. In addition to that, Anexartisias is located at the very heart of the city and leads to the sea, what is a big advantage. Besides the economic climate in the country is conductive to the development.
Among the main reasons that hinder the growth is the Anexartisias Street itself. First of all the street is short, only 730 meters long. What means almost no room to roam. Second, it’s a disaster when it comes to parking. However, parking lots still exist, patchy here and there, but not very close and convenient. Third, walkways are sometimes so narrow that doesn’t have space even for two. Development of the street goes hand in hand with the comfort of people walking it. But that’s not Anexartisias’ case. Except it’s a short stroll to the spacious and convenient for pedestrians seafront promenade, which has been a favourite place for evening walks among the locals and tourists for a long time now.
So for now we can’t expect a rapid growth, however the authorities thinking about making this street a pedestrian one, the decision, which could change its future completely. Unfortunately, until that time, what you see is what you get. So what exactly do we get? Let’s walk and find out together. We will walk slowly and thoughtfully, peering into every nook.
We begin our journey from the seafront promenade Anexartisias Street comes down to. First interesting things could be found right there. There is a unique store selling wooden toys on the left part of the street. It windows are just stepped out of the story about Pippi Longstocking. So bright and old they are. Huge Pinocchios, wooden clocks and figures etc. The store is very eye catching but I have never seen any customers inside it. That’s why it’s very possible it could be closed soon.
Following the original toy shop is another peculiar place: Nepal kitchen restaurant called Gurkha’s Kitchen. Prices are affordable, interior design — quite simple and its customers are mostly not very rich Asian people. This restaurant is some kind of social club. Asians come there to meet friends, have a chat and eat some national cuisine.
However, Europeans are very welcomed too. The quality of the food is B-.
On the right side of the street, an abandoned 9-floor building of AMH (Aqua Marina Hotel) is peering at us with its empty eyeholes. Back then it was a cheap hotel with lousy service and tiny swimming pool on the rooftop. Well, at least close to the sea and almost on the crossroad of the main street and the seafront promenade. But things went wrong and it went out of business. It’s a little bit strange to enter Anexartisias Street and be “welcomed” by old abandoned hotel.
Some time ago I’ve already read about the history of Aqua Marina Hotel but couldn’t find that information again. The only thing I found where negative reviews of few guests in 2006. It follows that the hotel was shut down pretty recently. By the way, a funny fact. While I were looking for its history, I came across a dozen of websites offering to book “a cozy room” in it. The image of a romantic couple surrounded by rats, doves, roaches and broken bottles was very bright in my head.
If you, my dear reader, is one of those people, who always try to stick your nose in every hole in the fence because “what if it’s something interesting there”, I have to report that Aqua Marina Hotel building is protected from the public by the fence as well. However several parts of it, which face seafront promenade, are made out of plywood you can easily peel back like it meant to be (and may be it’s actually made on purpose). So it won’t be a problem to get inside. But of course, we would recommend you to stay away from this kind of “adventure” because despite there’s a “view” and “exotic” there, the current condition of the building is unknown, what means you could get any type of injure from light to very severe.
Well, we have been marking time for quite long already. Let’s move on!
Right after the Nepal restaurant (on the left side of the street) something unexpected is waiting for us. It’s a real second hand shop! Not impressed? Well, you should. Second hand stores are super rare in Cyprus. Maybe there are 5 of them to the whole country. Why it’s like that — who knows? May be one of the reasons is that you can find plenty of stores selling cheap made in China stuff in every city, what satisfies the needs of the population.
The second hand store is divided into two parts: for men and women. You can go in and take a look if you want, I’ve never found something interesting or good in quality for myself there.
Another place of the first block of the street that deserves to be mentioned is Uluwatu Specialty Coffees. Quite odd name because Uluwatu is a temple on the south part of Bali island. What does the temple have to do with a Cypriot café remains a mystery. Moreover the assortment offered here is far from anything Indonesian. The main feature of the café — expensive custom made ice cream with different pictures on it etc. I should admit, I haven’t tried it yet, however I have been inside few times. The interior design is modern — casually cozy. Another plus point: they sell handmade ceramics and cookbooks at one of the tables inside. You might ask me, and what do ceramics and books have to do with it? Well, the world is full of mysteries, you know. The number of customers is usually much less especially when comparing it to the number of staff. That’s why when you enter the café, few pairs of eyes immediately stare at you with a silent question in them.
Maybe someone is fond of this “three seconds of fame”, but it’s a burden for me, so I want to leave this place as quick as possible.
That’s where the first part comes to its end. Just one more note. If you walk the main street in autumn and winter season, you will notice bags with sand everywhere. The thing is the street is one of the lowest places in the city. The farther from the seashore are parts of Limassol the higher above the sea level. That’s why any rain in that area could turn into a flood. Literally all the water from Limassol runs down there.
The end of the first block of the street is marked with a crossroad. The road to the right leads to non-touristic and that’s why kind of shabby part of the old town. The one to the left on the other hand polished until shiny because it’s the main touristic street. If you are looking for souvenirs at affordable prices, you path is going this way.
Things are far from satisfactory here. Several buildings are also abandoned. What is surprising because Anexartisias is second expensive street of Limassol when it comes to the rent prices. One old building even has a remained sign on Greek “Drossotis ltd”. What kind of company was based here is hard to tell now, but the building is quite big. I took a look inside through the dusty glass — the space would be plenty enough for a whole ice arena. But alas. It stands and catches more dust on it.
Its neighbours are several shops selling flip-flops, shirts and other cheap clothes.
But if we walk further, there’s something funny. So to say, a commercial fight of religions. On the one side of the street (left) an Asian religion themed store (all kinds of Buddha and Hotei statues, incenses and candleholders), in front of it, on the other side (right) — a pretty significant in size orthodox supermarket.
For some people, especially for Russians, a word combination “orthodox supermarket” could sound really weird and everything they will get would be white noise instead of some picture in their head, but it’s a common practice for Cyprus. The main assortment: all kinds of icons of different prices, quality and decoration. Also they sell some jewellery there. The seller wears a habit, so probably he is a cleric.
If we continue walking the street, we’ll see an arrow saying “visit our secret garden”. The garden is literally just few meters away and you can see a part of it even from the main street, but I gladly believe that it’s a secret one. Both the garden and the arrow are so unremarkable and blend in with the background, so I’m pretty sure not many people notice them. I’ve been walking this street myself many times and saw it just now. And even this time it was only because I walked very slowly and consciously looked at every sign and dark corner.
A couple of not very interesting shops. At the corner to the right — an entrance to the long-suffering Agora Anexartisias shopping mall. Honestly, I don’t know if it was popular ever but desolation has been present here a long time ago. Local authorities made several attempts to make this place “trendy” but it appeared to no avail.
Everything starts pretty good: you are walking in and find yourself in a cozy hall with a fountain. Pass by a tiny Chinese restaurant. That even has customers. Here is where the border of “civilization” goes. All places you will see after that are abandoned and inhabitant. No humans have ever set foot there. We are entering old dusty gallery hall. It’s chilling here. A bunch of stores, offices and studios. Almost all of them are closed during lunch time on Thursday, the doors are locked. Well, let’s get out of this forsaken place and return back to our route.
We are crossing the street (by the way to the left is a very sympathetic bar block). And we are heading into a super creative Cypriot clothing store. Its level of creativity is that high you can’t even read the name. The assortment will immediately give you an answer on the question that plagued you all your life: “So, here is the place, where Lady Gaga buys all her crazy outfits”.
We are moving on. A grocery store to the left. One of two for all the street. Only one for miles to be more precise. So if you want to buy some water and cigarettes, you’d better to do it right now.
The second store is very often sporadically closed.
To the left it’s probably the main competitor of the second hand store we passed by before. Malibu discount store. It offers its customers a wide variety of made in China clothes of a horrible quality at prices from 5 to 25 Euros.
A little bit further, lurking, is chain store coffee shop Coffee Island. It definitely stands out among other coffee shops in Cyprus. Only here you can taste the worst coffee on the island.
However seems like no one cares about the gustatory qualities. It’s crowded inside. Let’s go f… Wait! What’s there in that alley right before Coffee Island? Looks like tables. I’ve never been there. Let’s take a look!
What do we have here? A café called Elite. The interior is quite simple but cozy. Everywhere around are porches and passageways between houses. The café is well-hidden from view of a random passerby. However all tables are occupied. Interesting. Let’s go inside. Oh my god! What’s here? A real food! Mashed potatoes with a cutlet, chicken fillet garnished with rice, pasta with vegetables. Find something not greasy and overroasted in the centre of Limassol? An Impossible quest! But we did it! Judging from the amount of guests the food is not bad. I need to check it.
It took quite long for me to wait for my order — around 20 minutes. Taking into account that the ready-made food was displayed on the counter. But the size of the portion would be enough to fed a horse and the food is really tasty. The price for lunch and coffee was 10 Euros. What is slightly less than average for a café. A good place indeed. If you walk on Anexartisias street and want to eat something that doesn’t have a word “souvlaki” in it, that’s the only place you should visit to my opinion. Did you remember the landmark? Go in the passageway right before Coffee Island.
Right on the corner to the left of a busy crossroad there is one more “hidden nook”. And again it blends with the background so well that visiting this street for a hundred time I still haven’t notice a bar called Sherlock's Home. And it has very nice interior design. The best choice on the main street for having another beer or two.
Next is the only bakery on Anexartisias. I would grade bun’s and cakes’ look as C+. Well, they are definitely very far from those pastries in Milano or Paris, so you can take a glance at them and move on without being tempted.
The next stop is Life Philosophy shop. It’s full of tiny and pretend-to-be-useful stuff for a household. Pretend-to-be, I repeat. Because actually it’s the opposite. I visited this store before several times but didn’t get any idea what for I would buy something here. But I still recommend at least taking a look just out of the curiosity!
Let’s move on again. Trend alert! It’s a high level of style and fashion right in front of us! Facing each other are two stores with rather unpretentious names Megastores and Super Price Store. When you walk along seafront promenade puzzled why the youth there is dressed quite creative and in step with the last year’s trends but completely alike, remember that there are two reasons for that: one is called Megastores and the second — Super Price Store. Probably it’s the only place you can get whatever asymmetrical clothes you want with holes at all possible places and hoodies like those in films about Merlin (the wizard, not that Manson guy). And only here you will find a huge variety of ultra slim fit jeans. I guess you got it, where to head if the trend level of your wardrobe is alarmingly low.
Phew, fashion zone is overcome, no one was hurt, keep moving. And we will notice a big store selling all kind of snacks and other nuts. If you would enter it you’ll get a chance to try every of them for free. Prices are higher than at a market or at a chain store but the variety is much wider instead. Long story short, it’s worth a visit. One section of the store has traditional Cyprus treats on its shelves. You’d better not to buy anything in it.
At the end of the block located another mega popular among Cypriots chain coffeeshop La Croissanterie. The coffee they made there is probably not as terrible as by Coffee Island but gourmets would better pass by (by the way, my dear fellow gourmets, I’ll share a secret with you: the best coffee in Limassol could be found at Colors Café in another part of the city).
On a crossroad the way to the left leads to a bus terminal where traditionally you will meet few bored Asians waiting for a bus (locals go by bus very rarely because everyone has their own cars). Nearby is the biggest parking in the area. A paid and almost anytime full packed one.
This block is of very limited interest. It’s represented by chain stores selling clothes: Calcedonia, CAT, Stradivarius, Terranova etc. The only place, which is worth to mention — old souvlakia “Anexartisias 78” painted in traditional Greek blue. It looks lovely and seems that the food should be good as well. In reality I ate the worst souvlaki ever one day here and what is more it took eternity to wait for it. And washed it down with equally horrible frappe. The café is a nightmare. Never go there.
A very short one. Consists of few clothing stores, nothing remarkable about it. Streets to the right and left on the crossroad lead to the seamy side of Limassol, where the plaster is falling off the buildings and is dust, sadness and ruins everywhere.
The main and important one. Here we have a town hall and the main square of the city. This is the place, where all the main Christmas, Carnival and Eastern events take place. If you are in the mood for a protest, that’s the place of your choice too. However…in fact the area is tiny and looks more like a sidewalk widening than a real square.
The town hall was a hospital back then. The building itself doesn’t not excite with its fantastic architecture but looks kind of lovely anyway.
On both sides of the square are two old cafes. One is a classical type with a common picture of Cyprus elders sitting on the plastic chairs, drinking Cyprus coffee and discussing something very loudly. The second one is a standard food truck set: juice, frappe and snacks. But every customer could get a backgammon game to play if they ask. The café is extremely popular and is never empty.
There is a very small and obscure park with a monument of the national hero Grigoris Afxentiou close the square. Near it, behind the hedge is hiding a lawn. By the look seems like some not very well behaved citizens confused it with a free WC.
The second grocery store could be found to the right of the main square. A supermarket to be more precise. It’s not written anywhere it’s a Romanian one but you will understand that anyway. Same looking ethnic stores are dotted around the city. They are distinguished by unpresentable appearance and very cheap prices. For example a 0,33 ml can of Pepsi will cost you only 35 Eurocents.
After the main square there is another crossroad. The road to the left leads to the paid parking (2,5 Euros for 3 hours). Free parking lots could be found there almost anytime.
The right part of the road is heading to Plateia Iroon square. It’s a doppelganger of the main square: a bunch of stores and cafes and an area for open air concerts. I recommend you to visit it.
Here is another full packed La Croissanterie. A little bit further — a weird shop for tattoo and piercing fans. At the end of the block there is Funky Buddha — a store full of expensive, beautiful and very poor in quality clothing, which are tearing apart after you have been wearing them for a month.
You can find a narrow passageway to the left. It’s nothing special down there except an ordinary-looking place called Sigtoward Studio. Russians living in Limassol are often gathered there for so called “home concerts”.
The last one.
Here is the location of Hyper+ store. The assortment they offer there is average but one of the window dummies look like a real short bold potbellied man. You flinch every time when you pass by this shop in the evening because you think some pervert is staring at you.
Block nine ends with “pentadromos” — a crossroad of 5 roads. A true quest for a pedestrian. The street to the left continues the raw of endless shops. The street left and forward goes to the private estate. The next two are leading to the main Limassol theatre Patihio and to the way out of the city accordingly. The one to the right, quite empty and dirty transport artery — to the zoo.
Right on the crossroad stands a big office building. It’s ground floor resembles a maze with its commercial pavilions. Seems like architects considered this place to be the centre of attraction for customers. In reality it probably attracts some fans of post apocalypse games with its dusty gloomy ruins.
Another corner of pentadromos is decorated with a big banner inviting you to visit a shopping centre (technically the whole Anexartisias Street is a shopping centre itself). The ad says there are 500 stores at your service there.
Well, I didn't count the number of shops but even there are all the claimed 500, I got the feeling it's a dozen of them, no more. Shopping on Anexartisias is a difficult task. The variety is poor and boring.
What else surprises me there is that the main street doesn't have any restaurants on it. While the main part of European tourist cities “re-format” their main streets from shopping into restaurant areas. But Cyprus as always has its own atmosphere.
This is where we finish our tour through Anexartisias Street. The general impression I personally got during our walk is very controversial. The street itself is old and interesting with its own secrets but looks like it’s not bathing in love. Citizens are regularly cheating on it with seafront promenade and shopping mall. Seems like it demands some big changes to be made.