View of Siatista
Early 20th century black-and-white photograph
Siatista is built on the west slope of Mount Velia, which is a continuation of the Siniatsiko range. The original settlement must have sprung up at the start of the 15th century after the Ottoman conquest and the subsequent withdrawal of the Christians to the mountains of the region.
As early as 1600 Siatista had grown into a sizable town with a considerable manufacturing industry. The residents worked at the trades of the weaver, furrier, wine-maker and stock breeder, while many of their compatriots piled goods on their mules and peddled them well into central Europe (Budapest, Vienna), not to mention Venice and Russia.
In 1697, the town became the seat of the metropolitan of Prespes and Ochrid. In the 18th and 19th centuries, its wealth made it the target of frequent raids by Turkish Albanians, but its economic prosperity was shaken by the bankruptcy of many businesses after the crisis in Austria (circa 1800), a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars.
Beginning in the 18th century, Siatistan merchants living abroad sent donations towards the upkeep of schools and the formation of libraries in their homeland, which was the birthplace of many noteworthy men of letters, as well as freedom fighters in the 19th and 20th century.