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  • 38th part of Drama cultural routes - THE MANSIONS

38th part of Drama cultural routes - THE MANSIONS

Drama Cultural Route

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38th part of Drama cultural routes - THE MANSIONS

 
THE MANSIONS
 
THE END OF THE 19th century coincided with a period of significant growth for Drama. New types of buildings were built. The last quarter of the 19th century witnessed the emergence of the influence of Neoclassicism, an artistic movement that prevailed in Europe from the 18th century onwards and, insofar as architecture is concerned, its main characteristics are elements of the Antiquity, simplicity of the construction and soberness in form, but also the mixture of architectural trends.
 
  Drama expanded rapidly in the last decades of the 19th century. Its production : rice, cotton and first and foremost tobacco_ was in great demand in Europe and even in America, entailing an unprecedented economic boom. In the first three decades of the 20th century, Drama had many tobacco warehouses, tanneries, distilleries and brickyards. A new social class of wealthy merchants, undertakers, landowners and members of the liberal professions was in search of the more Western European way of life they had discovered during their trading journeys to Constantinople, Vienna, Italy and other European cities, and wanted to build private mansions of stone masonry. From 1880 till 1900, in the framework of the “westernisation” of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish administration and the municipal authorities of Drama constructed new types of public buildings (the prefecture, the town hall, barracks, schools and the hospital). The Greek Orthodox communities undertook the erection of churches, schools and libraries. It is noteworthy that societies of liberal education were founded in Drama, Prosotsani, Doxato, Choristi and Kavala. The improvements to transportation were also instrumental in the transformation and modernization of the town. The late 19th century coincided with the arrival of the railway.
 
From the beginning of the 20th century onwards the cultural and social life of Drama developed. New clubs and cultural centers were created: the Commercial New Club, the Greek Association, the Young Turks’ Association and the covered theater of Drama, among others. Change also became noticeable in the residents’ way of ressing and the French language grew in popularity.
 
  The demand for cooperation with foreign engineers and architects brought several important professionals to Drama. Among them was Austrian engineer-architect Konrad Jacob Joseph Von Vilas, who actively contributed to the construction of buildings for commercial use notably the tobacco warehouses  but also to that of private homes in Drama. Vilas also worked in collaboration with the German company that had undertaken the construction of the Constantinople - Bagdad railway line. He settled in Drama in 1894 to take part in the construction of the Junction Line Thessaloniki - Alexandroupolis - Constantinople. His buildings were of great technical accuracy and reflected all the European architectural movements. He blended the classical and progressive trends of his time. 
This eclecticism, combined with his outstanding competence, attention to detail and exceptional knowledge of architectural orders, made his creations unique.
  Iron entrance gates, embossed decorations, elaborate lintel pediments and laced wooden eaves are some of the details that ornate his buildings. He has undertaken the construction of many rich families’ urban residences in Drama. Among his works are the Portokaloglou tobacco warehouse (1904) on Perdikkas Street and the Tzimos’ mansion on Taxiarchia square, where he combined elements from the renaissance and baroque styles, as well as from Central Europe, and for which he had technicians come from Austria. In 1925 he built the warehouse for tobacco merchant Herman Spierer on the North side of the large pond of Hagia Varvara, the construction of which raised great controversy due to its imposing size. He built many other buildings in Kavala, Choristi and Doxato, and on the nearby island of Thasos.  
Besides K. von Vilas, there were other architects during the first decade of the 20th century in Drama: I. Favrikanos, Hatzimihalis, M. Gundnewski, and engineers Yannopoulos, Ioannidis, Galanos, Christopoulos, Lalas, Kavras, Makris and Pontikopoulos.  Today, one can admire splendid samples of architecture that have been preserved in the neighborhood of Hagia Varvara and on numerous streets: 25th March, Kountouriotis, Gounaris, Skordas, Averof, Hatzianestis, Vorios Ipiros, Venizelos, Hagia Sophia, Megas Alexandros, and many other locations in town.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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  • Greece
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  • 38th part of Drama cultural routes - THE MANSIONS

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