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The Old Bazaar of Shkodra, the largest medieval shopping center in the Balkans

  • 11/17/2020 9:25 AM
The Old Bazaar of Shkodra, the largest medieval shopping center in the Balkans

The old bazaar in Shkodra at the time of its flourishing, at the end of the VIII century and the beginning of the century XIX, was a large trading center between the old and the new part of the city, lying 1.8 km long. Over 10,000 people could work and buy there. While on shopping days, more than 30 thousand people could be present.

This bazaar had customs where goods coming by boat from Trieste were mainly cleared. Steamers up to 1000 tons were anchored there. There was also a boat market on Buna. It was also equipped with large warehouses for the entry and exit of goods. There were 5 mosques and 5 schools. Inside it was the Bezisten with 2 large two-storey gates and two smaller ones. In total there were over 1500 stores. The shops were located on over 30 shopping streets, which were divided according to crafts.

The Old Bazaar became the largest commercial center of the Albanian territories and beyond in export - import of goods from Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Bitola, Bulgaria and vice versa. In terms of trade and finance, the Grand Bazaar in Shkodra has been rated as the largest "Hypermarket" of that time in the Balkans, and has been uncompetitive in size, assets and processing capacity of goods, compared with the other bazaars of our neighbors, which proves that Shkodra was the Metropolis of Arbëria.

Ali Hasani, researcher, says: “The bazaar was also systematized in the underground part, with 5 canals which removed the water and were close to 1.8 meters deep. The Grand Bazaar in Shkodra is considered the largest center of that time in the Balkans, and the second after that of Istanbul.

When the Turks left Shkodra, the Old Bazaar was particularly damaged by the Montenegrins, who looted, burned and deliberately destroyed more than 400 shops.

The Greek settlers did the same, burning and destroying it afterwards. After the end of World War II, the regime decided to demolish it. In 1944 it became the residence of Greek-speaking Orthodox immigrants from Greece after the civil war, and in 1968 it was flattened and turned into a park.

/Klara Ruci/