© FOUNDATION OF THRACIAN ART & TRADITION
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The tobacco warehouses of Xanthi constitute a particularly important chapter in the region?s history and architectural heritage. The tobacco warehouses of Xanthi, built on the southeast of the Old Town, formed a distinct district, clearly separated from the central commercial and residential areas. Today 55 tobacco warehouses survive, of which 25 are abandoned, 25 utilised for other, inferior uses, whilst 5 house cultural and leisure activities.
The architecture of the tobacco warehouses comprises a specific building category based on the creative adaptation of a monumental style that has its roots in European industrial architecture. They are particularly impressive as building complexes, due to their size and form, which is rich in motifs, refined details and symbolism. In most cases one can discern echoes of neo-classical principles, such as grandeur, imposing design, large forms, articulated order and eclecticism.
The abandonment of the old industrial complexes along with whatever they housed or produced is the result of sweeping changes in the economic structure of society and rapid technological development, with significant repercussions on the environment of the town and its region. As once happened with ancient temples and Byzantine monuments, now old factories, tobacco warehouses, olive presses, mills and tanneries are demolished or rot, burying memories and evidence, silencing a history that has not yet been written.
This area surrounds an important section of the town, directly connected to its economic growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The changes and interventions so far have not had a significantly negative impact on the fabric of the Old Town nor on the larger part of the tobacco warehouses. Their historical value has increased in the past few years as a result of increasing building activity and immeasurable destruction of old buildings in many Greek towns, making them perhaps the best-preserved architectural group of their type in the whole of East Macedonia and Thrace.
The area is loaded with the town?s history and traditions, with particular cultural importance as it marks, along with the Old Town, its identity. The homogenous post-war construction of all towns and cities in Greece, which has deprived them of every special characteristic and imposed the repetitive image of apartment blocks, with simplified distinctions between public and private space, has created a faceless reality that does away with the last cultural values expressed in built space. Within this reality, areas such as that of the tobacco warehouses acquire even greater cultural significance and become the most important bearers of the specific cultural values of each town.
The buildings of the tobacco warehouses are prime examples of an architectural type perhaps unique in Europe, standing out for their classical aesthetic principles, such as the symmetry in façade and perspective, harmonious proportions, axial approach, strict geometrical outline and clarity in the building mass, tallness and, of course, the excellent use of traditional materials.