© Eastern Macedonia – Thrace Region
The tobacco warehouses -especially in Xanthi which was the most important tobacco center of the area during the late Ottoman period- were created for picking, elaborating and storing tobacco, the cultivation of which was launched in the beginnings of the 18th century. In the end of the same century, tobacco cultivation became a monoculture and the change of productive relations of the city began with the full imposition of the trade economy until 1860, contrarily to the traditional feudal institutional economic system of the Ottoman empire. At the beginnings, the tobacco warehouses of Xanthi were ground floor buildings with tiles and then bi level ones with impressive size and morphology. They were built away from the city, at its north and northeastern borders (the contemporary “Old town”). Their morphology is characterized by the influence of the architecture of the industrial buildings of Western Europe, strongly connected to the industrial revolution of the end of the 19th century. This morphology influenced the local architecture of Xanthi, especially its cosmic and religious buildings –i.e. mosques of the city. Many tobacco warehouses had only one entrance, because the Ottoman rule of 1875 for the tobacco tax constricted the existence of a second entrance in order to challenge tobacco bootlegging.
Thousands of tobacco workers filled the tobacco factories and warehouses of Xanthi. They were members of all the communities of the Ottoman society, 6000 men and women, constituting one of the most vivid communities in the postwar era. 15 buildings were characterized as “preservable” in Xanthi. Some of them were erected and renovated in order to host contemporary functions and services. The tobacco warehouses of this kind were also built in other cities where economy depended on the tobacco trade: Genisea –the prime capital of the corresponding Ottoman county that today is included in the prefecture of Xanthi, Drama and Kavala –the last one had an harbor for exporting tobacco to the periphery.
Sources: D. Mandalozis, G. Roukounis and M. GIanopoulou-Roukouni, Tobacco warehouses in Xanthi, Thrakika Chronika¸Xanthi, v.45/1991, pp. 72-85. Chr. Melkidi, Muslim monuments of Xanthi and their contribution to the evolution of urban planning of the city. PhD Thesis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Polytechnic School, October 1999.