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Gem of Ottoman Residential Architecture

History can repeat itself not only in time, but also in space. This is the case with the village of Bardovci, lying just outside of Skopje. Having been neglected for more than a century, it is now again booming as one of the most exclusive Skopje housing quarters. And this was the case in Ottoman times. In the 19th century, Bardovci was home to the Ottoman dignitary Havzi-Pasa who built his residence (konaks) there. Thanks to its size, refined style and rich decoration it is one of the most impressive monuments of profane Islamic architecture in the Balkans.

The konaks are the living space for the Pasa which is integrated into a larger property which contained agricultural land and housed peasants who worked there. Relying on the abundant supply of water from the Vardar and Lepenec rivers they grew exceptionally good rice, corn and wheat. The Ottoman word for such a property was ciflik. The overall design of the ciflik testifies to education and progressive views of Havzi-Pasa. The ciflik and konaks were built according to a detailed plan. The agricultural estate was separated from the living quarters,and peasants’ houses were included into the plan, which created better living conditions for the peasants.

The konaks were the home of the pasa where he followed the everyday rhythm of work and leisure activities. They housed not only his family but also his subordinates, assistants, servants and guards. The complex was surrounded by five meter high stone walls. The building contained eight towers attached on the outer side of the walls to protect the dignitary from potential intruders. Read more …