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View of Athens during the Ottoman occupation: Foreign travellers visiting the Balkans at the time commented on how the Greeks did not live up to their ancient ancestors' reputation



Athens in Modern times
15th-17th century

Athens was conquered by the Ottoman army in 1456 and, in 1458, with the surrender of the Acropolis, the Ottoman occupations was a fact. In that year Sultan Mehmed II Fatih (the Conqueror) came to Athens on the way back from his campaign in the Peloponnese. He visited the sites of the “city of wise men” as Athens used to be called by the Ottomans. The sultan gave the city of Athens most of the dioceses that were also given to the Orthodox Church except for those that were turned into mosques like the Parthenon.

Athens was an administrative centre (kaza). The highest ranks of the city’s executives were the voyvoda (governor) and the kadi (judge). Under Ottoman rule, non-Muslim citizens were free to practice their religion. They were, however, under heavier taxation than Muslims and were prevented from holding public office.

View of the Acropolis of Athens during the Ottoman period, showing the buildings which were removed at the time of independenceFrom the 17th century the Orthodox community of Athens was led by a group of elder (dimogerontes) elected by community members who acted as mediators between the Christians and the Ottoman authorities. The peace that followed, allowed the city to flourish economically.

The population of Athens increased, reaching 15.000, which made Athens one of the largest cities of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. The majority were Orthodox Christians. The increase of the population and the grown need for water supplies, led the Ottomans to construct an aqueduct, to repair older fountains and to build new ones.

During the 17th century, according to information provided by travellers, the streets of Athens were narrow and slated and the houses were small and built of stone. The city was divided into eight areas (platomata) covering what today is the area of Plaka, Monastiraki and a small part of Thissio and Psirri.

In 1687 the Venetians, who had just taken over the Peloponnese, took over Athens as well. From their stronghold on Philopappou Hill, they besieged and bombarded the Acropolis where the Ottomans had taken refuge, and destroyed part of the Parthenon. The Ottomans surrendered the Acropolis and left Athens.

TimelineIn its turn, the Venetian army left Athens in 1688. Much of the Christian population abandoned the city then in fear of revenge on behalf of the Ottomans, since numerous leaders of the Christian community had encouraged the Venetians to take over the city. By the end of the 17th century, however, most of the population had returned to Athens. Top


  15th-17th CENTURY

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