The growth of the export trade between the cities of Macedonia and central European countries created a wealthy bourgeois class which came into contact with Western civilisation. Aware of their strength, and given the strict boundaries of the society in which they lived, they gave their houses a form and size that would allow them to enjoy their wealth in an illusion of freedom.
The mansions ('archontika') were basically three-storey houses. The ground-floor was given over to storage rooms, and the ancillary rooms were in the courtyard. On the middle floor were rooms for winter residence, as well as an interior wooden balcony, called 'iliakos'. The top floor, which was constructed of lighter materials and enlarged by the addition of 'sachnisia' (covered balconies), housed the reception rooms.
The houses had rich interior decoration, with wood-carved panelling, wall-paintings, and transom windows of stained glass. Such mansions are preserved mainly in the mountain towns of western Macedonia, like Kastoria, Siatista and Kozani, and date from the late 17th to the 19th century.