The imposition of Ottoman rule on Macedonia had an impact on art, especially on ecclesiastical architecture, since it was forbidden to build new churches or to renew already existing ones.
During the first centuries of Turkish domination, the Christian population of Thessaloniki, a centre of the Ottoman administration, shrank, and the city lost its leading position in the field of religious art. The centre of gravity shifted to Mount Athos and the surrounding region.
From the late 16th century onwards there was a relative flowering of ecclesiastical art in western Macedonia, where the refugee Christian population founded new communities.
In contrast, Turkish settlers were established in the fertile regions of central and eastern Macedonia, and strong urban centres were created, in which the restrictive legislation was strictly enforced. This led to the decline of ecclesiastical art in these areas until the 18th century. In the new communities in western Macedonia, there was a revival of popular culture, giving a major impulse to the creation of folk art.
Much of the artistic output of this period was the work of teams of craftsmen organised in guilds. These worked in different regions and assimilated a variety of artistic trends, though invariably basing themselves on the Byzantine tradition.