On the side of a busy road that leads to Prishtina’s biggest park, Gërmia, there is an area with small shops and fast food stations known by many names: “The Chinese Quarter”, “Raguza”, “Romantika Shopping Center”, or “The Craftsmen’s Center.”
How locals refer to the area kind of reveals their age, how long they have lived in Prishtina, and what is their emotional connection with the area. Built in the early 1980s, it was meant as a concentration of mini-shops for various crafts. In the ’90s, it was one of the few places where Albanians socialized. Longtime Prishtina locals recall the famed “Raguza” sweet shop, of which no trace remains. Fast forward to 2022, the quarter has retained its old-style charm despite the transformations it has gone through.
If you tune out the noise from the busy street, and if you make an effort to block the visuals of the neighborhood as you go around this tiny area with tiny shops, it gives you a vibe of old towns somewhere by the sea. Keep an eye out for the tiny stone-laid stairs, pathways also laid in stones that have been polished by the feet of visitors in search of local fast food (think kebabs, burgers, meatballs, grilled hot peppers, cabbage and carrot and onion salad), local artwork, tailor services, or local handmade jewelry.