Roxana Coman, Ottoman Residential Architecture of the 18th and 19th Centuries and the Romanian Provinces. From Cosmopolitanism to Nationalism
What do Kastoria, Siatista, Thessaloniki, Gjirokastra, Ohrid, Sozopol, Nessebar, Plovdiv, Bucharest, Ploieşti, Istanbul, and so on, have in common? Apart from being cities in different Balkan countries, they share a common Ottoman influence, especially when it comes to architecture. In Greece the manors are called archontika, αρχοντικα, and considered to be representative for the Macedonian architectural style, in Romania, they are simply called merchant homes and sometimes considered Oriental in style, in Bulgaria they are seen as Bulgarian architectural heritage.
The manors still preserved in one form or another throughout the Balkans, have been mostly built in the 18th, 19th centuries and beginning of the 20th centuries. The majority of the owners were merchants or members of the local economic and political elite. Whether we call them Balkan or Ottoman architectural heritage, these houses have witnessed an interesting process – their meaning and symbolism have shifted from representatives of local identity (especially in the cases of Bulgaria and Greece) to national, and, to some extent, Ottoman. Their affiliations to various architectural styles depict what was going on in the Balkans at a certain point. For example, some archontika in Kastoria follow the stylistic traits of Art Nouveau and even Art Deco.