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Home 13 June 2024
Culture Architecture East Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Kavala

The sketch of the fortifications of Old Kavala.
(Photo: (Kathimerini newspaper, Seven Days, Cities of Macedonia, part 3, Athens, 1996).)
Urban design of the Old Kavala surrounded with walls and its expansion towards west after 1864.
(Photo: A. Karadimou Gerolibou. Between East and West: Cities at Northern Greece in the Ottoman reformation period, Trochalia 1997. p.109.)
Το υδραγωγείο του Σουλεϋμάν του Μεγαλοπρεπούς.
(Photo: (Εφημ. Καθημερινή, Επτά Ημέρες, Πόλεις της Μακεδονίας, τ. Γ΄Αθήνα 1996).)
Imaret in Kavala
(Photo: A. Stefanidou, ?Imaret in Kavala?, Makedonika v.25-26/1986. pp.203-265.)
Cavala?s club, used as a library today

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East Macedonia and Thrace
Prefecture of Drama
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Prefecture of Kavala
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Traditional architecture


Chrisa Melkidi
Source: CETI
© Eastern Macedonia ? Thrace region
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Kavala is built on the crossroad of terrestrial and marine roads which connect the Balkan inland with the Mediterranean and the Egnatia road. Having this position combined to the importance of its port, it achieved a diachronic presence. But this continuous presence was also a boomerang for the city, since it prevented the preservation of its traditional architecture in the recent years. The historical preserved core of the city is the Old Kavala, along with the settlement of Panagia on the rocky chersonese where buildings of the traditional architectural type (see ?Thracian architecture?, ?Macedonian house?) are preserved. It is surrounded by a wall in the same position with the fortifications of the ancient Neapolis and was reconditioned in the years of Ioustinianos? kingship for the protection of the Byzantine Christoupolis. Later, in 926, it was reconditioned by the general Vasilios Kladonas. On the highest part of the rock there is an acropolis. The castle was rebuilt from Osmanlides on the ruins of the Byzantine one in 1425. The most important element of the old Islamic center, the well known Imaret of Kavala (Imaret = almshouse, also a unit of Islamic public welfare buildings), is preserved next to the sea, related to the fortified city. It was built in 1817 by the Kavala?s valis (general commander), founder of the last Egyptian dynasty of Mohamad Ali (1805-1848). Kavala?s Imaret was built with money deriving from incomes of fields? utilization in Thasos which were granted to Mohamed Ali from the Sultan. It occupies an area of 4.200 square meters, seriated around four yards and consists of the most composite monumental construction unit of Kavala with a little mosque, a library and a reading room. It includes two medresedes (= Islamic seminaries), two derschanemestzit (big domed rooms for teaching which often functioned as two spaces of pray), an imaret (=almshouse), a mekteb (= Islamic school of primary education for boys) and the offices of the foundation?s management. Other imposing Ottoman architectural works are also preserved in Kavala. One of them is the mosque built outside the walls (contemporary St. Nikolaos church) by Ibraim Pasa in 1530, having his name and being a part of the kioulige (= center of the Islamic cities with sacred and secular buildings) of Kavala. The other is the aquaduct of the sultan Souleiman the great, built in the 16th century. Ancient parts of the Romaic aquaduct of Neapolis were traced on the bases of the one of sultan Souleiman. In 1864, with the sultan?s concession, the Greek inhabitants left the Byzantine walls devoted to Madonna, where they had settled in till then and constructed the historical settlement of St. Ioanis with buildings of popular style and dim neoclassic influences. This settlement, along with the kioulige of the city, the tobacco warehouses and the buildings used of the port?s operation, served as a linchpin of the old and the new city which evolved in the amphitheatric littoral area where Greek and foreign mansions built between 1900 and 1920 are preserved. The Greek buildings were constructed just before the Balkan wars of 1912-1913 and they are characterized by the dominance of the neoclassic influence with intense eclectic elements. The most important of these buildings are: the old town hall of Kavala (the first owner was the tobacco trader D. Tokos, 1879), the new town hall (miniature of the tower in Hungary, built in the ends of the 1890s), the building of the German baron Adolf de Zolnaid Vix and later -then Glen tobacco company (possibly built in 1906), the cultural center of Kavala?s municipality (tobacco warehouse of the Turkish tobacco trader Kizi Mimin in the end of the first decade of the 20th century) and the grand club of Kavala with intense neoclassic elements (finished building in 1910). After 1924, the population of the city was doubled because of the arrival of refugees. As a result, buildings of different style appeared: constructions of famous builders who applied their academic beliefs that included open solutions and recognizable morphological elements, buildings constructed by Ipirotes (people coming from western Greece) or other craftsmen and the refugee houses.

Sources: A. Stefanidou, ?Imaret in Kavala?, Makedonika v.25-26/1986. pp. 203-265. id. ?The city-port of Kavala during the Turkish domination. Exploring urban design 1391-1912?, PhD thesis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Architecture of the Polytechnic School, 1991. A. Karadimou Gerolibou, Between East and West. Cities in Northern Greece of the Ottoman reformations, Trochalia 1997. P. Ziogas, ?Architectural masterpieces: traditional buildings in recent Kavala, Kathimerini newspaper, Seven Days, Cities of Macedonia: Kavala, part 3, Athens, 1996