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Guests often ask me “Where can I find something special to buy as a souvenir from Greece?”

I get asked this a lot, and I love this question because anyone who has visited Athens (or seen photos of the historic center) knows that while the Plaka is chock full of souvenir shops, the asker is looking for something unique.

Something one of a kind.  Something handmade.

Recently when Basil noticed some beautiful embroideries and rugs in the window of a shop on Stadiou street we decided to take a peak inside. And while the windows tempted us with beautiful textiles, we were even more pleased to learn that we’d stumbled on something really special.

It turns out that the little storefront tucked away in a cul de sac off of one of downtown Athens’ busiest streets, is actually the retail outlet for the Society for the Education of Young Women. This store sells one of a kind, hand made arts and crafts, just a stone’s throw from Syntagma Square at Kolokotroni 3, in the stoa.

The society was established in 1872 and has been in operation ever since. The purpose of the Society is to promote traditional embroidery and weavings in order to maintain the culture, the traditional craft, and to support the thirty women who create the items on display and for sale in the shop on the ground floor at the opposite side of the Stoa.

Here you can find copies of embroidery that is exhibited at the Benaki museum. Weavings whose orgins are lost in history. Tapestries that are as unique, as they are modern but draw on the Greek past. (Tales of weaving and embroidary go way back for the Greeks: Penelope, ever hopeful that her beloved would return, kept her suitors away by weaving her wedding veil by day and undoing it at night until Odyseas came back from the Trojan war.

The Society and shop are worth a visit for a chance to see traditional Greek handwork at the source, and they offer a nice selection of packable special souvenirs to bring home as a memory of your travels in Greece.

Katya, the very friendly woman who seems to always be in the shop, speaks excellent English and is very happy to tell you about the pieces, as well as directing you (or escorting you) across the way to the workshop where these fabulous creations are made.  Be forewarned though, the work you’ll see in the shop and being created in the Society is of a different quality (and thus price point) than the mass produced textiles you’ll find in many of the shops along the charming streets of the Plaka and is priced accordingly.

The shop is open daily except Sunday, but Katya is off on Thursdays.

By Athensguide

How does a little girl from Skokie, Illinois find herself in historical Athens, leading curious explorers through the winding streets of Plaka, down "pezodromos" to hidden ouzeries for tempting mezedhes and homemade barrel wine? The journey began more than twenty years ago, and regardless of whether the wanderlust comes from the spiritual and culture DNA flowing through my veins, or the alignment of the stars on that cold mid-December day this Sagitterian came into the world, I never seem to tire of exploring my adopted homeland of Greece. Here you'll join me as I explore Athens: be it the back streets of Psirri and Gazi, or through the National Gardens and Zappeio where a family of turtles makes their home, or down wide, treelined Imittou Street in Pagrati, which pulses with Athenian life 24 hours a day. And while Athens has stolen my heart, the rest of Greece vies for my curiousity and wanderlust. My two guys (that'd be the Greek God, Vasilis and our Greek dog, Scruffy) and I can often be found settling in for a long weekend in some charming mountain village, or a quaint fishing port on a nearby island, or learning how Greek vitners are producing wines that rival some of Napa Valley's finests productions, or celebrating a panayeri in Epirus or sharing in the festivities as a family of Cretan sheepherders come together to sheer their 1500 sheep in the spring ... And if you happen to find yourself heading to Athens, consider finding yourself a real home for your stay. Living amongst the locals, be it for 3 nights or 3 weeks, will offer you the chance to experience true Athens, beyond the Acropolis. Choose from one of our 5 beautiful penthouse and historical homes, and who knows, I may be leading you down that winding "pezodromo" to our favorite hidden ouzerie!