Rotary International issued the charter of the Rotary Club of Nicosia-Salamis on April 23, 1996. It was presented to the club’s first president, Dionysis Toumazis, by Governor Salem Mashhour of District 2450, at a charter ceremony held in Nicosia on 31 May 1996. The keynote speaker at the charter ceremony was Rotary International Past President Dr Robert Barth.
Nicosia-Salamis started with 42 charter members, including Rotarians from other clubs of Cyprus. In their overwhelming majority, they come from the town of Famagusta (Ammochostos) and other parts of the Famagusta district, which have been under Turkish military occupation since Turkey invaded Cyprus in the summer of 1974. Since their expulsion from their homes, the displaced inhabitants of the town and the district of Famagusta have settled temporarily in Nicosia, the capital of the island, as well as in Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos.
The sponsors of the new club were the Rotary Clubs of Nicosia and Nicosia-Lefkothea, under Presidents Nicos Lakoufis and Petros Zachariades, respectively. The Rotary Club of Famagusta, operating in exile in Limassol since the Turkish invasion, and Governor’s Representative PDG Doros Jeropoulos played an instrumental role in setting up Nicosia-Salamis.
Nicosia-Salamis is named after the capital of Cyprus in which the Club operates and the ancient Greek city of Salamis, on the eastern cost of the island, some five miles north of Famagusta.
According to tradition, prince Tefkros, son of the king of the Greek island of Salamis, founded Salamis during the 12th century BC. Tefkros had landed in Cyprus on the way back to his homeland after the end of the Trojan War. Salamis became the most important city-kingdom in Cyprus under kings Evelthon, Onisilos and Evagoras.
Strong earthquakes during the period 332-342 AD destroyed Salamis completely and huge tidal waves covered its remains with sand (the Greek name ‘Ammochostos’ means hidden by sand). Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of splendid edifices, including a Greek gymnasium and a Roman amphitheatre. After the earthquakes, a new settlement developed south of Salamis, where modern Famagusta stands today.
For Club emblem of Nicosia-Salamis, the charter members have chosen two series of columns and the Famagusta Gate, one of the three openings in the Venetian walls surrounding the old city of Nicosia, which was used by travelers to and from Famagusta. The gate has been preserved and now houses the cultural center of the Municipality of Nicosia, an effort that has earned the city the ‘Europa Nostra’ award of the Council of Europe. For the members of the Rotary Club of Nicosia-Salamis, the Famagusta Gate is a symbol of their unshakeable determination to return to their hometown.