A city’s architecture reflects the culture and ethnicity of its inhabitants and holds clues about their social and economic state; it tells of their relationship with the past and reveals how they meet the challenges of their present as well.
Urban sites and architecture embody the socio-cultural identity of a society. They contain symbolic and historical messages as well as material content. One of the main messages embodied in the 19th-century architecture and urban design in Arab and Ottoman lands is the cultural, economic, political and military presence of the European “Great Powers”, and as the environments inhabited by European communities there expressed the European lifestyle and identity they should also be considered as tools of political-national propaganda. At the same time, local architects utilised the architectural language and aesthetic of Western architecture as symbols of national modernity while the presence of the local Arab and Ottoman architectural languages and traditions as well as locally adapted alterations also confirmed and underlined the national identities of the Arab and Ottoman world.