KOMOTINI (AA) - January 23, 2013 - Once used to mark the Islamic prayers five times a day, some of the iconic Ottoman clock towers in Western Thrace still remain intact as reminders of the region's Turkish past and today's popular spots in everyday life.
Ottoman Emperor Abdulhamid II, who reigned between 1876 and 1908, commissioned Abdulkadir Kemal Pasha, the governor of the region, for the construction of The Clock Tower of Komotini (Gumulcine) in 1884 and the tower in the courtyard of the New Mosque was completed in as short as a year.
The four-storey tower -- most recently renovated in 1998 - is now an important attraction spot of this town in Greece, which is still home to a sizeable Turkish community that makes up 50 percent of the town's population, and its clock on the third storey still works flawlessly.
The Xanthi (Iskece) Clock Tower, the remaining one of the two Ottoman clock towers in the Greek city of Xanthi, was built in 1870 by Haci Emin Agha, one of the wealthiest Ottoman figures of the time in the region.
The tower now lacks the star and crescent reliefs it used to have until the region was lost to Greece but the edifice managed to survive repeated demolition attempts thanks to efforts by the local community.
The other clock tower, however, was not as lucky as its sister: Leveled by a Bulgarian army invading the city in 1943, the tower near the city's Bazaar Mosque now lives in old photographs and in memories.
Reporting by Mehmet Hatipoglu