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Light cambric fabrics, wood and stone are the three fundamental elements in the construction and decorations of the well-known traditional houses of Gjirokastër. Windows covered in masterfully embroidered curtains, the wooden roofs above the warm living rooms, on the outside covered in stone, the latter being the element that gave rise to the construction of this city and continues to define it. Gjirokastra, a place otherwise known as the City of Stone.
In the famous historic neighborhood called Qafa e Pazarit, or the Old Bazaar, we meet one of the true masters of embroidery in town, Vjollca Mezini. This is a craft that Albanian women have cultivated and mastered throughout centuries. Vjollca has dedicated her heart and soul to this craft and her expertise shows in the effortless weaves her needle makes through the soft fabric. As she works, tourists surround her to witness greatness at work. Her multicolored threads create the iconic images of the city, its characteristic houses, the Castle of Argjiro, the bridges and cobbled alleys that the city is known for. Concentrating on such fine work for hours upon hours cannot be easy but, for Vjollca, the people’s appreciation of her beautiful pieces makes it all worthwhile. Her works include beautiful traditional geometric patterns in addition to the ones of the castle and the Bazaar, the symbols of the city of stone.
Along the way at the Old Bazaar, one will inevitably run into Anastas Petridhi, the master of woodwork. Each visitor who enters his shop is bound to find him working. The maestro will probably hold an unworked plate of beech wood or soft pine which, in a short amount of time, will metamorphose into a veritable artwork. Anastas learned his craft from an early age, before the ‘90s, in the city’s Artistic Workshop. On the variously shaped and sized engraved plates, Anastas, employing pyrography, always makes a special dedication for each customer. Using a modest tool called begu, he marks the desired shape onto the plate through a hot wire. In 2009, Anastas won first place at the National Artisanship and Cultural Heritage Fair held in Gjirokastër, creating thus the leading example for woodwork tradition in the city.
A man with intelligent eyes and deep wrinkles, testifying to a life lived in full, awaits you further down the bazaar. His name is Muhedin Makri and his trade has been passed on for generations, from his grandfather and father to him. His dagger and hammer shape the hard stone in a way only he knows how. Mr. Makri is over 70 years old but shows no signs of slowing down! Every morning he opens his modest shop and proceeds to work on orders made by both tourists and locals, people who want a handcrafted work that will resist the passage of time. Life taught him to work on nature’s hardest material, the one which makes up many of the houses in Gjirokastër. It is unbelievable to witness a shapeless stone turn into and the elegant work of art! In his shop you can find portraits of Ismail Qemali and Ismail Kadare, two men who have greatly influenced the history of the city and the nation at large.
The City of 1001 Windows is a national cultural and heritage center that reserves beautiful strolls along cobbled alleys in its famous Mangalem, Gorica and Castle neighborhoods and much more. One of the most historic and oldest cities in Albania, Berat will fill your entire day with beautiful landscapes in addition to its rich culture [...]
The last coastal city along the famous Southern Riviera is one of the most ideal places to spend your day In reality, the legendary coastal city of Saranda would ideally require more time to be fully experienced. However, if you only have 24 hours to spend here, we can suggest the absolute must-sees of this [...]
Tirana has been Albania’s administrative center for almost a century but this city’s history goes even further back in time. While the toponym Tirana was first mentioned in the 15th century as “Plenium Tyrenae” (“Field of Tirana”), the city became an established settlement almost two centuries later, in 1614, with the establishment of a mosque [...]
The vibrant coastal city of Vlora is a requisite stop for every tourist visiting Albania during the summer. Vlora marks the boundary between two seas – the Adriatic and the Ionian – which, in turn, are simultaneously shared between three countries: Albania, Greece, Italy. Boasting an enviably long and beautiful coastline, the ideal exploration of [...]
Pogradec is the quintessential nostalgic city! This particular sensation arises as you cruise down the national road and an image of utter calm and timeless beauty unfolds before you. The smooth, creamy blue surface of Lake Ohrid, punctuated by lively swans and seagulls! This is the lake of a certain delicious fish called koran, found [...]
This southernmost city in Albania is quite the multifaceted place! An ideal destination for your holidays, year-round. A location full of virgin beaches and delicious seafood. Sharing a border with Greece, Saranda is also a gateway to this other significant cultural destination. Last but not least, entry fees in the most wonderful parks and destinations [...]
Most refer to Dibra’s northeastern highlands as Albania’s roof. This region’s highly diverse nature is due to the high peaks and low valleys found along Dibra’s rugged landscape. As one of the largest geographical areas of the entire country, Dibra boasts more than 50 spectacular natural monuments. Countless caves hidden among beautiful mountains, small lakes, [...]
Korça is one of those wonderful towns that are never off-season! During the winter holidays, the snow covers the town and the guesthouses invite you in with their warm atmosphere. In the warmer seasons, the town overflows with energy and festivities of a different kind. The traditional city’s cobbled streets and promenade host multiple celebrations [...]
Season does not matter as any time is the right one to visit Korça! While during the winter, the picturesque snow veils the city’s streets, the leisurely walks on the promenade during the spring possess an entirely different feel. But if you only have 24 hours to spend in this wonderful city, below we provide [...]