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Subjects in FocusThessaloniki from the 18th  to the 20th century

Thessaloniki from the 18th to the 20th century

Thessaloniki in the First World War
Vardaris Square at Thessaloniki
The cityscape of Thessaloniki
Travelling in Thessaloniki with N. G. Pentzikis
The inhabitants of Thessaloniki
Professions and trades
The Jews of Thessaloniki
The refugees in Thessaloniki
Entertainment in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki in the Balkan Wars
The fire of 1917 in Thessaloniki

Images on this page

Jewish porter in Thessaloniki
Late 19th century picture postcard with a Jewish hamalis (porter) in Thessaloniki, 1800-1920, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive.

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Professions and trades

Jewish porter in Thessaloniki
1800-1920, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive

In Thessaloniki up to the early 20th century, the civil servants and army officers were mainly Turks, while certain other professions, according to an unspoken agreement, were practised almost exclusively by one race or another.

The building professions were the prerogative of the Christians. Making yoghurt and halvah were the province of the Albanians. The Albanians were also wonderful, picturesque 'kavasides', a kind of servant-bodyguard who one could hire privately. The ironmongers and tinkers were gypsies.

The Greeks practised every profession; they were waiters and grocers, doctors and merchants, cooks and skilled workers, bakers and pastry makers, but they shunned handicrafts and did not till the soil.

The farmers were Bulgarian for the most part. The Jews, apart from a few big businessmen and industrialists, had a virtual monopoly on plying the trades of the haberdasher, junk dealer and porter.

The porters, who were very numerous owing to the port, appear to have been quite striking; a German visitor remembers them dancing their way, stumbling over the uneven streets, yet giving the impression that they were performing a French polka. Four of the eight went ahead, the other four behind. Each foursome joined hands in such a way as to appear as one collective person.

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.