What is a souvenir? A trinket you take away from a place visited, a memento of fun times in a new destination, something you buy as a gift? What do you look for when choosing that memory: something more generic that immediately brings to mind all touristy things, or a carefully crafted, meaningful piece that contains the multitudes of a country’s and a people’s history, culture, and soul? There is something deeply alluring and warm in handmade souvenirs in small, independent shops run by local artists.
Every single souvenir carries within it the fabric of emotions and feelings that the artist has poured into its making. In that, you have found yourself a treasure. There is such a treasure trove in the heart of Prishtina: as easy to find as it is easy to overlook – if you are not paying attention to the surroundings as you walk along one of the few remaining cobbled-stone alleyways in Kosovo’s capital.
Nestled between a modern glass-wall building and another, older, building, Art e Zanat (Art and Craft) souvenir shop displays the beautiful inner world of its founder, Ilire Lepaja. Every magnet, postcard, tote bag, and embroidered pillow is carefully made by her. Tradition-old motifs with a modern twist. The small place, artfully crafted with splashing colors, natural materials, and charming designs is located right behind the main government building. From there, you can walk to many stylish cafes in the downtown area or visit the statue of Scanderbeg.