Photos: Jiannena

29 Dec

The restored Pyrsinella mansion.  The only old Ottoman konak to survive the building boom of the 70s and 80s.  With it’s funky three-tiered, accordion cumba.  Miracle someone had the sense to step in and preserve it.  Truth is it’s on an oddly-shaped lot, which accounts for the creative cumba configuration, so it probably wasn’t worth that much real-estate-wise.

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This, of course, was one of the nicer houses of late nineteenth-century Jiannena, when the city had already started falling on hard times.  A fire in the 1860s, especially, destroyed what must have been an Argyrocastro-Plovdiv-Safranbolu-like city of gorgeous konaks, including Ali Paşa‘s apparently spectacular palace itself on the aerie-like promontory of the Litharitsia.  Nice it’s been replaced at least with Konstantinides’ beautiful archaeological museum:


The Pyrsinella mansion is the center of a posh little pedestrianized neighborhood that also includes one of the first big apartment houses to go up in Jiannena, this brick and cement sort of Brutalist thing that I always liked:  (Sorry, bad light)


Though I’m not sure about the Neo-Ottoman, kinda Morrocan kafasia on the balconies, a recent addition:


So typical.  Destroy the Ottoman city.  In the process, manage to build at least one or two buildings of at least a certain modest modernist quality.  Then come a few decades later and ruin that too with a dumb post-modern nostalgic touch…

(And leave the second refrigerator on the balcony so we know it’s the Balkans.)

And the main drag with the city’s highest minaret off in the distance, which always makes me so happy.



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