Within the borders of the modern Greek state, the towns of Northern Greece present a series of peculiarities which are made especially obvious by their historic centres. These peculiarities affected the later architectural formation of the towns and their town-planning. A specific approach towards their architectural heritage therefore becomes necessary based on the understanding and interpretation of their history. The geographic position of these towns in the Balkans and their delayed, for almost a century, detachment from the Ottoman empire (compared to the towns of Southern Greece) are considered as the basic reasons for their peculiar development and their common characteristics. These common traits are researched and evaluated in this article, furthermore, what is also examined is the impact these traits had on efforts for modernization and reformation made by the Ottoman empire in the late nineteenth century and by the Greek state in the interval between the two Wars.

After 1923 the towns of Northern Greece are not any more exclusively subjected to the town-planning experimentations of the Greek state, but they are controlled by a common town-planning legislation. The great needs created by refugee settlements in urban and rural areas, the interior emigration and the reorganization of the national housing network, led to a general, superficial and flat handling of these towns. However, the simple lay out of streets in any expansion plan and the typified rationalism of the traditional town-planning elements, as they were drawn in the 1930s, must not be held responsible for the present situation. This was caused in the 1960s, when the well known procedure of building production was established and has prevailed ever since.