Do you know Bezesteni? Families of DIA-drasis got a chance to know a little bit about this historic corner of Thessaloniki’s city centre…

Bezesteni is a monument of the city’s Islamic heritage. It was built during the Ottoman period by Sultan Mehmet II (1455-1459). Bezesteni refers to textile markets. The word has its origins in the Turkish word “bezesten” and Persian بزستان (bazistān) with the same meaning -maybe deriving from an old word in Arabic “bez” meaning textile.

Bezesteni functions as a textile market and precious stones market. Most of the stores currently occupying the market, still sell textiles and jewelry. In many occasions it used to be the place that important documents were kept. It used to be an important institution because quality inspection was taking place there and the exchange rates were defined. The design of such markets is of interest because they are built based on Islamic Mosque Architecture. Specifically, Bezesteni in Thessaloniki is a rectangular building with four entrances and six domes covered in lead. It is not the only Bezesteni that the city used to have, but it is the only that survived through the years. Before the great fire of Thessaloniki in 1917 Bezesteni had 113 stores. After the fire there were also built external shops. It is one of the few markets worldwide, maintaining their original use for more than 500 years.

Hatzilaris family owns a traditional print shop in Bezesteni since 1959 and they had a lovely idea… to invite DIA-drasis for a visit! The workshop was amazing! A short tour around the old building and a little bit of hide-and-seek for starters. Then we had an exciting experience with old printing machines  and how they work! There was a surprise there… 3D artistic printings of Bezesteni drawing! Not only children but adults too were amazed watching the process! Of course, the evening wouldn’t be completed without children to make their own paper creations; colorful kites in the colors of DIA-drasis! What a nice activity for the little ones with the grown-ups!