Ottoman monuments of Athens Everyday life in Ottoman Athens
Minarets in the Parthenon and the Voevod’s (governor) complex beside the ruins of Hadrian’s library were major themes of 18th century excursionist’s prints, which illustrated Athens of that period . Turbans and white kilts, ancient columns, Crosses and Crescents, Ottomans and Westerners, all mixed up in a colorful bouquet.
Fragments of Everyday life “Poor devils” sold their merchandise through a vine covered “shanty market” which was located in a central area, nowadays called “Monastiraki”. Goat cheese, fine quality olive oil, olives, honey, cotton, leathers and wool were some of the goods Attica was producing. Except of small farmers and merchants, in the area there had been also a strong presence of craftsmen’s guilds. Ceramists, silverware manufacturers, smiths and thread’s dyers were continuing undying traditional crafts of this land. The Eastern occupiers brought with them coffee and of course coffeehouses, a habit which was to become one of Greek’s favorite practice. With two silver coins (“parades”) locals could have a cup of coffee which they could enjoy while smoking pipes. Quack doctors and huntsmen were some of the figures someone would meet in such a place. The firsts were trying to sell nostrums. A very popular recipe of that period was a mixture of olive oil, mastic, wax, garlic, egg yoke, turps, sulfur and liquid tar, which was used as a cure for infections, skin diseases and rheumatisms. As for the huntsmen they were trying to get a some kind of reward through treats by showing off wolves tails
which they had probably hunted on Parnitha, a mountain near Athens. This was a saving act for many shepherds and households since those wild animals caused them lots of trouble.
An insignificant rural town As you may have guessed we are in Ottoman Athens, which for almost four centuries - since Constantinople’s fall and until the Greek Revolution of 1821 – was not anymore part of the Byzantine Empire, which had ceased to exist. In fact Athens in that period of time was an insignificant small town, with 10.000 population and it spanned only around what we today call it’s historic center, Monastiraki, Plaka, Thisio, Keramikos all beneath the shadow of Acropolis which had been turned into the occupier’s fortress. Outside the town’s walls fields, flocks and peasant homes composed a totally rural scenery. No one could imagine that this small town would eventually regain it’s previous glory and would become the Greek capital with a vast population of almost 5.000.000 souls, half of the country’s population.