In the 16th century, large monastery complexes that resembled fortresses were built on Mount Athos, thanks to donations from foreign Orthodox rulers and Greek prelates.
The most common architectural type for the 'katholikon' -- the main church of a monastery -- was the so-called Athonite type, which is also found outside Mount Athos. This is a triconch cruciform church with a large narthex. The virtues of Byzantine architecture lived on in the careful masonry and morphological features of the 'katholika'. In contrast, western influence can clearly be seen in the monastery towers.
The flowering of monastic architecture in 16th century western Macedonia -- outside Mount Athos -- is linked with three great personalities of monasticism: Saints Dionysios the Younger, Nikanor and Theonas. For churches in the countryside and the urban centres, the rule was a small, single-aisle timber-roofed church, constructed of rubble masonry similar to that used in ordinary houses.