Treasures from the Balkans: Ottoman Imperial Firmans

02 February 2021

The General Directorate of Archives in Albania contains 45 original Ottoman imperial firmans, dating from 1484 to 1906.


Firmans compose the elite of documents created by the Ottoman administration. Seven of the firmans in the General Directorate of Archives regulate the protection of the interests of Christians in Albania and forbid the intrusion to their properties.

The firmans are filled with gold characters and have a stylistic perfection and elegance in writing. In some of the firmans, beside the signatures, plenty of decorations and seals, including the wax seals being an object of study themselves, there are also miniatures deserving to be studied as applied art.


“Writing the history by tolerance … – Firmans”, publication no. 83 by TİKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency in Albania) and the General Directorate of Archives of Albania.


Picture: Firman of the Sultan allowing the reconstruction of the devastated church of Saint Harallambi in Kamena of Saranda (year 1862).

–  Aida Veliaj, Albanian University