Until the mid 20th century Gjirokastra was an important market centre for agricultural products from the region, leatherworking and woodworking. The combination of administrative positions and vast feudal land holdings provided the basis for the wealth of the town.
By the 1580s the town had more than 400 dwellings, and in the 17th century Memi Pasha, the Ottoman governor, laid out a new commercial quarter with a mosque, on the present site, with all roads coming together at the ‘neck’ of the bazaar. This first planned town centre was almost completely destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the 1750s. Another fire in 1912 resulted in a further reconstruction, for which steel beams were first used to support the shop fronts
Nowadays the area is the heart of the touristic interest with many shops, souvenirs, artisan activities and bars and restaurants.