Kruje's Bazaar - The Derexhik

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Krujë, Albania

Kruje's Bazaar - The Derexhik Krujë Reviews

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Krujë's Old Bazaar - The Derexhik May 03, 2017
Anyone traveling to Albania should be sure to put a visit to Krujë on their list. This one-time capital of Albania is only about 20 miles from the current capital of Tirana but a world away in terms of what there is to see here. We spent an afternoon and evening here and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In addition to visiting the very fine National Ethnographic Museum, Skanderbeg Museum, and the remains of Krujë Castle, you shouldn’t miss seeing the very quaint and colorful old bazaar. Also referred to as the “Derexhik,” a name like “Kruje” itself, which is derived from the proximity of streams or springs this area and its origins dates to the Ottoman period and because of this area’s connection with the Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg, and the battles against the Ottoman Empire which took place here or nearby, the town of Krujë and therefore also the old bazaar are considered an important part of Albania’s national heritage and identity.

In the early 1900’s, travelers’ journals note that there were well over a hundred shops in the Derexhik, but the number of shops in the bazaar since then has varied over the years for many reasons. Today there are fewer than 100 shops operating in the bazaar and the trade skills that used to be seen there in the past may not be visible today. Its many shops still brim with all sorts of interesting handicraft items and maybe a few imports: olive wood, brass, ceramics, musical instruments, antiques, textiles, lace and embroidery, clothing, traditional Albanian ‘plis’, jewelry, carpets, Albanian memorabilia, and common day tourist souvenirs. The brain can never take in all that the eyes see here. I did a bit of shopping here for gifts to bring back to friends and relatives and maybe a special something for myself. In the shop “Ridvani” where I bought several things, I was surprised that many of the items for sale reminded me of those found in Turkey and I asked the shopkeeper about it but he denied they were from Turkey -- I hope he didn’t take my questions as an insult – that being said, I love Turkish ceramics! Still, I was happy that the items were quite special even if not from Albania. I found that I could pay in Lek, or Euros.

Interestingly, I read an article by Marjola Rukaj from December, 2010, in which she states that some locals credit the survival of the bazaar (çarsh) (çarshija) and traditional craftsmanship skills to Enver Hoxha! Hoxha determined that since Krujë’s history was linked to Skanderbeg and therefore its bazaar as well, it was worth saving as an example of the Ottoman period. The rebuilding of the deteriorating bazaar was begun about 1966 with the reconstruction of the shops and the ‘kaldrem’ or stone/cobblestone alley or path between them. Following the takeover of the craftsmen’s shops by the ‘state,’ apparently many craftsmen were trained by the Hoxha regime to prepare and enable them to re-establish their family traditions of craftsmanship. Rukaj states “Sons of craftsmen, encouraged to follow in the family tradition, were taken on in these state-run factories today still called Artists Industries by the local people. The collapse and privatization of the state-run industries in the early 90s did not spare the workers at the ‘Artistics’ who are now to be found employed in or running the shops in the Derexhik Bazaar.” Who gained or retained ownership of these shops today is not clear as is the status of traditional skills and craftsmen.

Nevertheless, these charming shops with the terracotta tile roofs and the plentiful and colorful goods for display are certainly kept busy by the tourists of today.
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
starship1 says:
Holger, It's a quaint little town with 2 very good museums, and the bazaar of course. I think it's great you've been to that country twice already!
Posted on: Aug 18, 2017
I have already heard a lot about Krujë, but unfortunately never really made it there, although I have been twice to Albania.
Posted on: Aug 18, 2017
EmEm says:
@starship1- You're welcome! Likewise!
Posted on: Jul 14, 2017
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