Monday, May 19, 2008

1.Banque de Salonique 1906

Under latin and jazz sounds people spend their nights in one of the arcades of the old Thessaloniki. There stands Paparouna (poppy) bar restaurant, in every shade of red. The arcade bears the name Malakopi. The building was at the centre of the Frankish neighbourhood of the Ottoman city and was built in 1906. The Frankish neighbourhood is mainly signified by three constructions: Banque de Salonique (Malakopi arcade), Ottoman Bank (today city's public conservatory) and the Catholic Church. This mahalle extended in an area east until Sabri Pasa Caddesi (nowadays Venizelou street) and consisted of quarters full of craftsmen and tradesmen stores, commercial arcades, headquarters of insurance and shipping companies and inns (han).

The quarter where nowadays Paparouna bar lies, was property of Eduardo Allatini, member of the wealthy jewish family of merchant-managers. Allatini bought the quarter between the years 1904-1906. At the north of the quarter, in 1904, stood only one main building, a mansion with a garden at the south. In 1906 the arcade was built in the place of the garden, in order to house several shops and the Bank of Salonique. The latter, founded by the Allatini brothers in 1888, opened its doors at Malakopi arcade in 1907, when the bank manager Alfredo Misrahi bought the building for the account of the bank.

Architect of Banque de Salonique was Vitaliano Poselli, to whom Thessaloniki owes most of the gorgeous buildings of this era, the late Ottoman period, such as the Imperial Lycee building (today the Faculty of Philosophy), the konak - the administration building of the city (today accomodates the ministry of Macedonia and Thrace) - the Allatini mansion (today the prefecture of Thessaloniki), and Yeni Cami mosque.

The forefront of the building as designed by Vitaliano Poselli in April 1906.

Banque de Salonique survived from the mass destruction which was caused by the great city fire in 1917. Approximately the whole center of Thessaloniki was burnt down in a three days longing fire. The Frankish neighbourhood was almost vanished by fire but Vitaliano Poselli's edifice had a narrow escape.
Banque de Salonique, though, could not escape closing down in 1940 when the building, where today Paparouna bar stands, was comandeered by the Nazis. The clock at the center of the front pediment stopped functioning at the great Thessaloniki earthquake of 1978, time 11:05, indicating the definite end of an era.

Today people
who enter Stoa (arcade) Malakopi could not hear the variety of languages and idioms spoken in old multicultural Thessaloniki. However, sounds and tastes from all over the world travel them from Latin America to Middle East, confirming that beauty and quality has no borders.

In black & white photos: Frankish neighbourhood (Frangon street) in ruins after the fire of 1917.

The city sleeps tonight