Monday, July 14, 2014

The Konak as New Building Type

The Konak

       Rich traders or members of the Ottoman aristocracy often built large houses or mansions for family use, particularly during the 19th century. The traditional examples of konaks followed the general practice of house-building using for instance the wide spread timber frame technique. The second floor, often protruding over the ground floor, was supported by beams. Windows were frequently shuttered so that women could enjoy the views onto the street below without being seen. The interior space conception most often consisted of a spacious hall (the sofa) in the centre of the building, for common use. Adjoining rooms (eyvans) for multi-purpose use were more intimate, with bedding and sanitary facilities hidden behind cupboard doors. Another distuishing features of an Ottoman konak and even of a saray (palace) is that their exterior was not intended to impress the onlooker, in contrast to West European palaces. Their luxury was restricted rather to the interior.

      Next to this residential building called konak, the same term also refers to local governmental buildings, the architectural response to administrative reforms along the 19th century. Their architecture is not any longer inspired by the traditional West-Anatolian-Balkan-Type house but reflects the new West European tendencies.

Bey's House in Tetovo
        Located in the neighborhood of the beautiful Aladza Mosque, that I presented at an earlier post, the so-called Bey's House in reality is only one part of the original huge konak built by the ruling local Bey in the 19th century. Back then it was composed of a selamlak (the building reserved for men), a haremlak (the equivalent for women and children) and a number of adjoining outbuildings, all surrounded by a massive stone wall. Only the haremlak has been restored recently yet this single building provides useful information of the characteristics of a konak. Its characteristic features, common with most Ottoman dwellings, can be observed here. A huge wood-panelled portico opening to the courtyard is topped by a wide terrace supported by wooden columns. Characteristically, the windows at the lower level are kept small for mayor privacy while the ones on the upper floor are big and numerous, assuring good sights at the surrounding nature. Ottoman Baroque-shaped windows and a four-sided roof with wide eaves contribute to the harmonious façades while the many high chimneys confer an extra dimension to the building.

Vilayet Konak in Skopje
      The Tanzimat Period in the 19th century, that is a long lasting reform process forced on the Sultan by the European powers, brought about some administrative reforms and with it the need for adequate buildings. One of these reforms modified the administrative units of the Empire, dividing the remaining Empire in vilayets. The local governor with seat in Skopje therefore built the Vilayet Konak (in front of the fortress) as government building responding to this new requirement.
      Corresponding with the West-European-inspired reforms  the style of the building itself is strongly reminiscent of Neo-Classic buildings in Western Europe. The spacious double-winged building has two floors with a specially emphasized portal. Pilasters framing this huge arched entrance and a triangular pediment on top of the second floor highlight this central part. All windows, rectangular at the ground floor and arched at the upper floor are framed in white stucco.

       If you want to know more about Ottoman Heritage in Macedonia please consult my recently published book:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Clock Tower as New Building Type

The Clock Tower
       With the 18th and especially the 19th century, parallel to the Tanzimat or Reform Period, a new architectonic attraction was introduced in most towns of the Empire: the Clock Tower or Saat Kule. Decreed by the Sultan, this new building type was meant to symbolize the ongoing Westernization and reforms. Among many others, the Reform Edict from 1856 promised equal rights and justice to all, regardless of religion. In any case, the new clock towers introduced a radical change in people's perception of time. Until then it was the muezzin's call from the minaret that marked the praying time for Muslims, but from now on the hour was given by the centrally placed clock tower to people of all credos.
       Although an Oriental phenomenon, these towers mostly followed West European styles, at least when newly built. Size and artistic qualities of these towers stand in direct relation to the towns' commercial significance.
       Sometimes an old tower from a previous period was transformed into a Clock Tower by adding a tambour with the clock mechanism in its interior. Veles, Shtip or Kocani  in the Central and Eastern region of the country are representative examples of this practice.
      The region of Macedonia had twenty-one Saat Kules, out of which twelve are completely or partially preserved. The finest examples can be found in Skopje, Gostivar, Bitola and Prilep.

The Clock Tower in Gostivar

      The town of Gostivar, in the Western part of the country, is rather poor in architectural heritage. Nevertheless, it boasts one of the most beautiful clock towers in the country, located as usual in the very centre next to the main mosque. Its solid square stone base with the original arched entrance in cut stone dates from the 17th century. A chiselled stone plate above the door gives testimony to this origin. The tower then turns into an eight-sided shape, the lower part in stone and the upper one in vertical wood panelling. The clock mechanism with a dial on alternating sides is placed under the roof. A small octagon on top of the roof crowns the building.
       After having served as a notorious prison during the decline of the Empire, recent restorations returned the tower to its former glory.

       For a complete survey of Ottoman heritage in Macedonia you have now at your disposition my recently published book:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Tekke as new Building Type

The Tekke

       This singular building type has been introduced in the conquered areas immediately after conquest. It is designed to house the dervishes, that is members of a Sufi Muslim brotherhood. Among the numerous different brotherhoods it was particularly the Bektashi who played a crucial role by accompanying the conquering Janissaries and islamizing the conquered peoples, but also in teaching them new agricultural techniques. At the end of Ottoman rule many Muslims left for Turkey and therafter most of the tekkes have been abandoned or have disappeared altogether.
       When considering this constant emigration of dervishes and therefore the reduction of their tekkes, the more stunning it is to find one of particular significance and beauty, in our days. We are talking about the beautiful tekke in Tetovo.

Harabati Baba Tekke in Tetovo

       The dervish lodge of Tetovo was built little by little by the Bektashi order, starting from the 16th century and gradually adding buildings according to their needs. In the centre of the large yard we find the oldest building, the turbe or mausoleum of the founding dervish and other Sheihs who followed him. It is a twelve-sided small building in the traditional building technique of timber frames filled with brick.

       Nearby we find the exceptionally attractive shadirvan, a fountain that served also the purpose of relaxataion and dervish rituals. Perfect proportions and elaborate decorations render this fountain unique. Its wooden structure is divided in two parts: the first one contains a six-sided marble basin surrounded by cushions for relaxation while the second one, slightly elevated, is intended for rituals. Painted and gilded decorations at the ceiling of great beauty are a significant artistic achievement.

      Another unit of this splendid complex is the meydan, an open veranda, used by the superior to receive his guests. Along the rectangular one-floor building runs a terrace sustained by wooden pillars. Its connecting arches under the roof show painted decorations. The most outstanding quality of this building is its rich fresco paintings, where rectangular fields with circular and star-like motives are lined up. Strikingly similar to the ones at the  Aladza Mosque, a monument I presented in a previous post, this decoration was probably executed by the same artists.

       The tekke is composed of several other buildings as for instance a prayer house, a guest house, a kitchen building or a freestanding fountain, but the most outstanding edification is the so-called Blue Tower or Fatima's Tower. It was a gift of Tetovo's ruler to his ailing daughter Fatima in order to give her the possibility to live on the grounds of the tekke. A striking tower-house with two floors, it shows a cubic stone base topped by a wooden upper floor, painted in bright blue. Under the characteristic Ottoman wide eaves we find a painted frieze. The blue shutters are divided in two halves where the lower part opens downwards to lean on them and the upper part lifts upwards to give shade. The interior of this tower is richly decorated with wood carvings and wall paintings.

       For further readings about Ottoman Heritage in Macedonia my book is now available:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia. The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Bridge as new Building Type

The Bridge 

       Evidently bridges are no invention of the Ottoman engeneers. Already the Romans stood out in the construction of bridges and were frequently imitated by later civilizations, including the Ottomans. Monumental design and solid structure with evenly spaced arches that rest on massive piers characterize these bridges of Roman design. Representative examples are next to the Stone Bridge in Skopje(see picture below), the Emir Küçük Sultan's Bridge in Shtip or the Zhelino Bridge near Tetovo.

       A most flourishing trade, at least in the first three hundred years of the Ottoman Empire, required the construction of numerous roads and bridges throughout the vast territory. Kratovo, a small town in the Northeast of Macedonia, still preserves an astonishing accumulation of six bridges to connect the different parts of town. They were built at the heyday of the important mining industry in this vulcanic area.

      Contrasting with the solid Roman type of bridge the Ottomans built another type of bridge, particularly in the first years of their dominion of the Balkans. Generally smaller constructions to connect the banks of a river or a creek, they stand out with a special grace. It is this type of bridge I will present here because of its uniqueness.

Elen Skok Bridge

       No doubt, this type of bridge with Selchuk influence appears most singular to European eyes. The small structure in stone spans over the gushing river Garska, on the way to Lazaropole. A pronounced hump at its centre confers it a most graceful shape. The single lane without railing is covered with a cobbled stone pavement. Legend has it that the local Bey (Ottoman governor) of the region by building this bridge wanted to commemorate the gallant death of a deer he had been hunting. The animal, although wounded, continued to flee until it lept over the river. But once safely on the other side of the river, it died. The name  of the bridge, translated in Dear Leep Bridge gives a permanent testimony of this romantic story.

       Macedonia still preserves many works of civil engeneering from the Ottoman period. To get the whole picture of  this significant heritage please refer to my recently published illustrated book:
Teresa Waltenberger,  Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage,  Skopje 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Turbe as new Building Type

The Türbe 

       Differing from other Islamic cultures the Ottoman royalty and high officials of the Empire liked to be buried in a mausoleum, called türbe. The patrons of these buildings often included the construction of  this building type in a mosque complex, either as their own burial place or to honour someone preceding them. These burial chambers are usually small buildings with a single chamber covered by a dome, most frequently on a hexagonal or octagonal base. Two types of türbes can be distinguished: the closed one and the open type with arches sustained by columns. Its walls are made of brick or stone masonry, their exterior most frequently being rather plain following the characteristic Ottoman austerity. In contrast, their interior might be lavishly decorated with tile revetment or painted decoration. One of the most stunning examples of tile-decorated tü rbes is Yesil Türbe in Bursa, Turkey.

       Türbes containing  sarcophagi are generally kept closed, but the interior sometimes may be glimpsed through metal grills. The bodies repose in plain sarcophagi with a simple inscription, or more often they lie below the floor level, underneath the symbolic tombs. Sometimes a gravestone, covered with a turban in fabric or in chiselled stone was placed at the head of the tomb when the deceased was male. Of course, only prominent persons were buried in a türbe, the others were laid to rest in the mosque grounds with a tombstone that may have been more or less elaborated.

Pasha Bey Türbe in Skopje
       This türbe, located on the grounds of Ishak Bey Mosque, is probably the most exquisite Islamic mausoleum in Macedonia. It has been built by the 15th century ruler of Skopje, Ishak Bey, for his deceased son. Its architecture represents the perfect example of a classical Ottoman mausoleum of the type of closed türbes, with a hexagonal base and a vaulted dome supported by a polygonal tambour. A glimpse through the windows reveals  the Turkish triangle decoration underneath the dome. All six sides with its respective windows are framed in artistically profiled stone. Its door is enhanced by a stepped arch while the windows are surmounted by pointed arches.
       What makes this mausoleum a most outstanding object of Ottoman heritage in Macedonia is its decoration with the famous Iznik tiles. Sharing this high quality embellishment only with the portal of Yeni Mosque in Bitola, the artistic value of Pasha Bey Türbe is considerable. Iznik tiles in turquoise-blue colours cover the tambour with a characteristic Islamic design while six-pointed stars decorate the upper corners of the arches.

       For a comprehensive study of Ottoman heritage in Macedonia I suggest my recently published book:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia:The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Bedesten as new Building Type

The Bedesten 

       A bedesten or covered market is a building type of Persian origin. The Ottomans continued to build covered markets in their own style all over the vast Empire. Generally built in the central bazaar area, only the most relevant trading centers could afford to build a covered market, as for instance Skopje, Bitola and Shtip.
        This type of building was conceived as a secure building for the transaction of the most valuable goods as jewelry and high quality fabrics providing guarantee against robberies. Solid materials used for its walls and heavy doors that could be locked by night served this purpose. Their space conception can be basilical as the one in Bitola or multi-domed as the one in Shtip, presented in this post.

The Bedesten in Shtip

       The town of Shtip located in the Eastern part of Macedonia complied with the commercial requirements for the construction of a bedesten. In its heyday the town counted with 450 shops, a kervansaray, 27 mosques and 7 trading inns. Wars, natural decay but also a generalized negligence towards all Ottoman reduced this vast heritage to only one mosque, a clock tower and the bedesten to which we refer here. An impressive fortress-like building in the center of town, this covered market gives evidence as to the relevance of Shtip as trading center. This monument from the 16th century has a rectangular shape and is made of stone. In spite of the absence of decorative elements on its outer walls the monument appears most imposing. The roof is set back on three levels and surmounted by three shallow domes covered with lead. This gradual transition of the spacious rectangular surface into three circular ones by means of shallow tromps stands out as a prominent feature of the monument. For security reasons only two massive entrances on the opposing short sides give access to the building. 

      The interior reflects this tripartite plan with three halls, separated by massive stone pillars which are connected with pointed arches. Well crafted stone corbels can be seen above these arches. The central hall is emphasized by a higher drum supported by concave squinches. A harmonious portico along the outer walls sustained by columns leads to numerous rooms. In the past, these spaces housed the shops of luxury items, each one equipped with suitable niches for the display of the wares.

       When the Empire entered in decadence, particularly during the 19th century, the bedesten was used as a prison. Restoration works in the 1960's returned the splendour of this significant building of Ottoman heritage to the town of Shtip, adapting it to an Art Gallery. 
       If you want to know about the other bedestens in Macedonia or get the complete picture of Ottoman architecture in this country you now have at your disposition my recently published book with lots of images:
Teresa Waltenberger,  Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage,  Skopje 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Bazaar as new Building Type

The Bazaar 

       Intense economic and commercial activity in the Ottoman Empire required new building types as for instance the kervansaray for lodging the traders or the bedesten, a secure building where the most valuable goods were traded. But not only single buildings like these made up the commercial hubs. The whole structure of an Ottoman town gravitated around an immensely commercial area, the bazaar.

       Consisting of one or several streets a bazaar, also called carsija, is lined with small shops with their craftsmen workshops attached. In the big bazaars as the ones in Skopje or in Bitola each street specialized on one craft so that you could find a street of saddlemakers, another of blacksmiths or one of silversmiths.  The bazaar is not only the economic center of any Ottoman town but also the gathering point for prayer, taking a bath or socializing. Surrounded by the Islamic threesome, that is mosque, han and hamam, the bazaar thrived with live at all hours.
        Bazaars reached their peak of commercial activity in the 17th century and after a period of stagnation again during the 19th century. Skopje and Bitola stood out with the greatest bazaars in Rumelia (the European part of the Empire), but even smaller towns had its own bazaar, sometimes consisting of a single street.

The Bazaar of Bitola

        At the zenith of Ottoman rule the bazaar of Bitola or Monastir as it was called in Ottoman times had over a thousand shops. Although strongly altered during different periods, be it by a changing commercial situation, by conflagration or by wars, this bazaar even today is a most lively market in the center of town with visible influences of oriental urbanism. Small one-storey shops, some of them a reminiscence of 19th century traditional architecture, alternate with revival style buildings, following the fashion of West European influences at the period. Building materials range from rubble to brick and sometimes stone. Some of these little shops still preserve their big protecting iron shutters, just as in old times. If you walk through the bazaar at commercial hours (not on Sunday afternoon as I did) you definitely fell the oriental way of living, with all its bustling livelihood, a transposition to another period and culture.

       The bazaar in Bitola together with the one in Skopje are the biggest remaining ones in Macedonia. 
       In case you want to complete information on architecture from the Ottoman period in the Macedonian area my illustrated book is now available:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Hamam as new Building Type

The Hamam                                                                         
        Although  bath houses have been built already by the Greeks, the Romans and also by the Byzantines, the Ottoman architects improved this building type significantly. In contrast to the Roman bath houses for instance the Ottoman hamam is supplied with flowing water instead of stagnant water, a device especially appreciated by the hygienic-minded Muslim. In addition to its basic function these hamams served also as a meeting point of the Ottoman society, where young and old, rich and poor mingled. Each town had several of these public baths, generally one in every quarter. Many of these bath houses were built as double or cifte hamams (cifte=double) allowing for male and female users at the same time. To a single hamam men and women had access to the facility at different hours.
       Structurally, a hamam consists of at least one big square room serving as dressing room, and several smaller ones. From hot to warm to cold rooms, each served for a different purpose, as for instance scrub massages, bathing or laundering. Even a beauty parlor and a coffee corner were included. The exterior of an Ottoman bath house shows in most cases an austere decoration consisting of horizontal brick and stone layers, similar to many mosques while its interior may be richly decorated with friezes, muqarnas (stalactite-shaped decoration) and other decorative elements. 
       During the Classic Period of Ottoman Architecture, that is the 15th and 16th century, these hamams were built as major monuments, as in the case of Daud Pasha Hamam in Skopje.

Daud Pasha Hamam in Skopje 
        If you cross the old Stone Brigde (Kamen Most) to the Bazaar quarter the first monument you can identify easily by its thirteen domes is Daud Pasha Hamam. In spite of the different sizes of these domes and their seemingly irregular placement they achieve a most harmonious result. The walls supporting these domes are kept in the traditional austere fashion of alternating stone and brick layers, a technique called opus cloisonné. Only scarce windows and two portals enhanced by pointed arches and architraves interrupt this austerity. Despite this almost complete absence of exterior embellishment the hamam imposes itself as one of the most monumental works of Ottoman secular architecture in town. 

       Built in the 15th century as a most magnificent double bath house (the largest in the Balkans), it offered several hot steam rooms of varying degrees, cold baths as well as other facilities like a laundry service, a beauty parlor or a coffee corner. Two separate entrances lead to the respective large dressing rooms. Both are covered by a huge dome, perforated by star-shaped glassed openings and crowned by a lantern for a perfect lighting. 
       One of the most remarkable qualities of this monument is its superb interior decoration. Intricate muqarnas that isstalactite-shaped ornaments decorate squinches and pendentives below the domes. Turkish triangle friezes as transition between walls and dome are another characteristic decoration type. Several walls show artistically carved friezes in low relief .
       At present, the monument houses the National Gallery of Macedonia, but is well worth a visit to view its exquisite architecture alone.

       If you want to know all about Ottoman buildings in Macedonia you have now at your disposition my recently published book:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014  Publisher: Logos-A

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Mosque as new Building Type

The Mosque as new building type

Macedonia preserves a surprising number of historic mosques, some well restored, others crumbling, particulary the rural mosques in the Eastern part of the country. Skopje but also Bitola, to name just two towns can be proud of their Ottoman heritage.
As everybody knows, the place of worship for Muslims is called a mosque. The evolution of mosque architecture started in the early times of Islam with small dark chambers, finding inspiration later on in Sassanian Architecture, Selçuk Mosques and finally in the enormous influence of Byzantine Architecture with the overwhelming model of the Church of Hagia Sophia, long before Constantinople was conquered. The Ottoman builders absorbed elements from all these currents but found their own unique style, largely thanks to its main architect Mimar Sinan. This classic prototype of Ottoman mosque signified by a cubic prayer hall and covered by a dome is well represented in Haydar Kadi Mosque in Bitola ( see image) as well as numerous other mosques all over the country.

Each mosque has certain features, common to all, as for instance the qibla wall opposite the entrance with the mihrab, an artistically decorated niche from which the imam leads the five daily prayers. Another characteristic element is the minaret, a slender tower next to the mosque from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer. Ottoman minarets stand out with their elegant pencil shape. A porch in front of the entrance, most often finished with high quality materials and techniques, allows for late-comers. For the obligatory ablution before prayer each mosque has a shadirvan or ablution fountain, sometimes with its own aestetic value.

Alaca or Painted Mosque in Tetovo
One of the most resplendent monuments of Ottoman Architecture in Macedonia is Alaca Mosque in the small town of Tetovo. Originally this prayer house has been built in the 15th century, but after its destruction by fire the local rulers decided to rebuild it at the end of the 18th century. At this period, the central government, already in decadence, could no longer provide guidance to the province since the Ottoman civilization itself was in decay. Instead, the hitherto standardized architecture of the Ottoman School was supplanted by the local patron's fancy as an expression of his personal taste.

The builders opted for a spacious rectangular prayer hall covered with a flat interior dome. A wide colonnaded porch with two mihrab niches allows for late-comers. On the right side of the front wall rises a slender minaret, preserved from the original mosque. Equally preserved from the 15th century mosque is a beautiful mausoleum in front of the mosque. It contains the rests of the two sisters Mensure and Hurshide who were the patrons of the original mosque. A stone fountain next to it completes the complex that is surrounded by a large yard and protected by a stone wall.

What converts this mosque in the most extraordinary one in all Macedonia is its stunning decoration with fresco paintings, both at its exterior  as at its interior. These painted decorations in Ottoman Baroque Style express the builder's and the artisans' taste. According to legend 30.000 eggs were used for the realisation of this decoration that literally cover the building outside and inside, including the shallow dome. The motives of three of the exterior walls are unique in its kind. Rectangular fields with either circular or star-like design are lined up in an alternate manner achieving a most admirable effect. Contrastingly, the porch and the mosque's interior are covered with countless stylized floral ornaments, arabesques and landscapes showing the then fashionable West-European influences.

If this unique mosque rises your curiosity enough to see images of other mosques click the preceding "mosque" and choose Macedonia and then Skopje. For an overall information on all Ottoman monuments in Macedonia my illustrated book is now available:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014 
Publisher: Logos-A

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Kervansaray as new Building Type

The Kervansaray or Han

       In this my first post to Ottoman Building Types I will present one of the specific civil building types, the Kervansaray or Han as it is called also. Originally built by the Persians and the Seljuks for giving shelter to pilgrims on their way to Mecca, these buildings could be found at a distance of thirty to fourty kilometres, the distance a traveller could make a day in those times. The Ottomans followed this tradition by building numerous hans throughout the huge Empire, mainly for lodging the traders with their animals and goods. It used to be a most secure fortress-like edifice with a single big entrance giving way to a spacious court with a fountain. There the travellers gathered for conversation or for trading their wares. A sober exterior, often without any or only scarce windows underlines the han's purpose of protecting traders and their valuable goods.

        Kursunli Han in Skopje dates from the first half of the16th century and is one of the three trading inns preserved in the capital. This han represents one of the highest achievements of civil Ottoman architecture from the Classic period that captivates with its aesthetics, functionality and monumentality. At the time of construction it formed part of a complex of buildings, that included a now vanished mosque and a hamam whose remains can still be observed. Differing from the usual one-court han this trading inn features the unique structural feature of a second adjoining court with a separate entrance for servants and animals while the main court was reserved for up to a hundred travellers with their goods. The massive main entrance covered with a dome-like roof leads to the large courtyard, surrounded on all four sides and on two levels by arches over the galleries that lead to the guest rooms. Each of these rooms behind the galleries shows a cross-vaulted ceiling and is equipped with a chimney, a real luxury for that time. Next to the portal two original symmetric stone staircases with stone railing lead to the upper floor. The whole building is made of the classic mixture of stone and brick arranged in decorative layers, a technique already used by the Byzantines. Another outstanding feature of this monument is its roofing: small domical vaults are lined up along the entire building  contributing to the harmony of the monument. In the past this extraordinary roof was covered not with brick tiles as nowadays, but with lead. Hence the name of this monument. After the post-earthquake restoration Kursunli Han houses a permanent collection of sculptures from Antiquity to the Islamic period.

If you want to know more about Ottoman Heritage in Macedonia my illustrated book is now available:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ottoman Building Types as seen in Macedonia

Ottoman Building Types as seen in Macedonia

       Kervansarays, Hamams, Bedestens,....are just some of the new types of buildings   emerging in the territory of Macedonia, right after its conquest in 1392.  The urbanistic character of Skopje changed profoundly when taken over by the Ottomans due to their religion, the Islam, as well as their habits in daily life. Immigration of Turkoman people and conversion to Islam of a part of the local population brought about a profound change in the social composition of the population. New types of buildings were needed to satisfy the requirements of this new society. Religious buildings as mosques, turbes and tekkes as well as civil architecture as kervansarays, hamams, bazaars, medreses, imarets, clock towers, bridges and aqueducts converted the towns in characteristic Ottoman centres. Particularly Skopje and Bitola  still reflect this character with   numerous Ottoman monuments in spite of a racing construction activity, especially in Skopje. Following the example of the Sultan in his capital, the local rulers and other high officials made important endowments of one or several monuments. Today, the names of a number of buildings, particularly mosques, still remind of these historic personalities. 
      Although the present Republic of Macedonia is best known for its Roman excavations and still more for its Byzantine churches with their interesting frescos, my attention was drawn particularly to the much less known Ottoman heritage with its own style. As an "Eastern" phenomen in Europe deriving from a long lasting cultural influence it deserves our attention and admiration.  
      The last two years while living in this country I had the opportunity to visit and study all what is left of Ottoman architecture in Macedonia (which is a lot compared with other Balkan countries).
       It is precisely this patrimony, so different from the West European culture, which I want to share with the reader. As the subject is too wide for this site I decided on the presentation of the new building types implanted in the conquered area. Each subsequent article will describe one of these types, be it the mosque, the han or the hamam, accompanied by one selected monument from the wide choice of examples within the national geography. 
      Would I recommend Macedonia as a travel destination? Absolutely! Particularly spring and summer are great seasons to explore beautiful landscapes, but also to get familiar with its cultural heritage, included Ottoman Architecture, and all that at more than affordable prices and possibly as the only tourist at the site, a real luxury at present times.
      For readers who want to enlarge their knowledge on this subject I point out my ilustrated book which has been published recently by Logos A, Skopje:
Teresa Waltenberger, Architecture in Macedonia: The Ottoman Heritage, Skopje 2014