Tirana – the capital of mysterious Albania

Tirana – the capital of mysterious Albania

Albania or Shtripia as the locals call it is known as the land of contrasts. Here Europe and Asia, modernity and communist past are intertwined. At the beginning of the 20th century Albania was the only atheist country in the world. It is considered the “last mystery of Europe” because it became accessible to foreign tourists in the 90s. What to see to better understand this country, consider in this article.

2. Attractions of Tirana

Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania with a population of about 900,000 people. The city became the capital 8 years after getting rid of the Ottoman Empire, in 1920. Most of the sights are located in the main square of Tirana, named after Skandenberg, the leader of the revolt against Ottoman rule. There is an 11-meter bronze monument to this national hero on the square. The author is the famous Albanian sculptor Odise Paskali. He has represented Skanderbeg on the horse in a helmet with horns with a saber in a hand. Previously, there was a monument to Stalin.

There are also interesting objects for tourists: the National History Museum, the clock tower, the mosque Ethem Bey, next to the church, the opera house and a number of old buildings.

National History Museum . History Museum building is easily recognized by the mosaic on the facade depicting 13 Albanians from different historical periods. The exposition begins with the times of ancient Illyrians and ends with the communist period in the life of the country.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

Et’hem Bey Mosque. The Et’hem Bey Mosque is a reminder of the time of the Ottoman yoke. The building was laid in 1789 and completed in 1823. On the walls of the mosque there are views of Istanbul, on the frescoes there are typical images of Islamic culture, images of nature, bridges, even still life. At the entrance to the mosque you have to take your shoes off, so there are shelves for shoes. Visit for free.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

The Clock Tower. The clock tower was built by Hatshi Ethem Bey and like the mosque is a monument of Ottoman culture. Inside there is a small museum dedicated to the history of Albania. To admire the views from the height of this structure, you have to climb 90 steps. In the evening the tower fascinates with beautiful lighting.

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Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

Fortress of Justinian. You can reach the Castle of Tirana, Kalaja, or the Fortress of Justinian, by walking along the street Murat Toptani. The building was erected in 520 by Emperor Justinian I, and was rebuilt in the 18th century by Ahmed Pasha Toptani. The building has not survived. Now we can see only a 6-meter high remnant of the wall, which is the only reminder of the citadel that is still standing.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

Bunk’art. On the territory of military unit in Tirana there is an interesting Bunk’art object. It was created in the communist era by the ruler Enver Hoxha, who was concerned about the obsession to save the inhabitants of the country in case of attack. According to some reports, from 1944 to 1985 about 500,000 pillboxes were built in the country. The bunker has now been transformed into a five-story museum that can protect against a nuclear blast. Under the ground is a conference room for 200 people and 106 rooms.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

Albania is a country of contrasts . After the end of Enver Hoxha’s rule, people began to return to religion, although the vast majority of residents are still atheists. The majority of believers are Muslims. Orthodox and Catholics are also present, which could not but affect the architecture. The country is very loyal to any religious views.

Cathedral of the Resurrection. In the center of Tirana in 2004-2012 the main Orthodox Church of the Shtripea-Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ was built. This building is in the Byzantine style. The 46-meter bell tower next to it strikes the imagination. There are 16 bells on the two floors of the building. The bell tower itself includes 4 columns, associated with the evangelists who proclaimed Christ’s Resurrection.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul’s Cathedral on Boulevard Joan of Arc is the main Catholic church in Albania. It is made in the style of postmodernism. It began its work in 2001. The roof of the building is crowned by a statue of St. Paul. Inside the temple-vitrages depicting Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II, revered in the country.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

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The Great Mosque. The largest mosque of the Balkan Peninsula was built here. The four minarets rise up to 50 m, the dome is 30 m high. The building can hold about 4500 people at a time.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

The Peace Bell in Tirana. Albania, as a country with a long history, has suffered many political and economic upheavals. In 1997, as a result of the crisis in the economy, the Albanians have lost their savings. A popular protest became rife in the country. To quell the revolt, shooting was opened against the protesters, which resulted in the deaths of 2,000 people. The weapons the authorities had taken from army depots to shoot the protesters were later used by extremists in the Kosovo conflict.

A reminder of this tragic historical moment in Tirana is the Peace Bell monument. It’s symbolic that it’s made from children’s drawings and the material used to make it is shells.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

The Great Park. The park is located in the south of the capital and has several names. One of them is called St. Procopius Park. This green recreational area is over 60 years old. The locals love to spend time here. Tirana Park, as it is also called, is a space for celebrations and festivities. In addition to the state buildings and the Church of St. Procopius, there are also a botanical garden and a zoo in the park.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

The cableway “Dahiti-Express”. The guests can admire the city view by taking the cable car “Dahiti Express” to the mountain Dahiti at the height of 1300 meters. The cable car is 4.5 km long and takes 15 minutes to reach the end point. At the top station a rotating tower with a restaurant will allow you to see the natural sights and view the city.

Tirana - the capital of mysterious Albania

2. Attractions of Tirana

3. Trip to Albania: are there any risks

Until now, rumors about the unexplored and therefore misunderstood country keep travelers hesitant to travel here.

Many still believe that Albania is a Muslim country. But it’s not so. The country is very loyal to any religious views. In addition to traditional religions there are no bans for Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As for the level of street crime, which some tourists fear, it is not high here. Towns here are small, families have lived in the same place for centuries and know each other. In addition, Albanians understand that tourism is a source of income, so they take care of its safety and comfort.

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Kruja and Tirana – antiquity and modernity

Kruja and Tirana - Antiquity and Modernity

A walk through the most modern, as well as one of the oldest cities in Albania! The capital of Albania is the youngest city in the country. On the contrary, the history of the city of Kruja counts more than one hundred years – it has been known since the time of the Illyrians. The name of the city is closely connected with the name of the national hero of Albania – Skanderbeg, who prevented the invasion of the Turkish soldiers on the territory of Western Europe for 25 years. It was here, in this fortress, that Skanderbeg raised the famous banner of rebellion against the Turkish yoke in the 15th century. But first of all, let us talk about it in detail.

The medieval town of Kruja

The city of Kruja in Albania is located near the capital of the country – Tirana. This city was erected in the Middle Ages on the Sari Saltiki mountain. Kruja is situated on the banks of the Imsha. To the east of the town lie the Skanderbeg mountains, 1400 meters high, and to the west, Kruja is gently washed by the waters of the Adriatic Sea.

People had already inhabited the area where the city was built 2 thousand years ago! The city of Kruja was founded in 1190 by Prince Progon, who made the city the capital of the ancient state of Arberia – the prototype of modern Albania.

2 names – 1 city

The most beautiful panoramas that open directly from the streets of the city gave the city its name “balcony of the Adriatic”. It is interesting that in the Albanian language “Kruja” means “spring”.

The Town of Kruja

The town of Kruja

Its history

In the fifteenth century, the town of Kruja was the goal of the lands owned by the noble Kastrioti family. The town did not stand out from other towns and settlements. But due to certain events Kruja became national-historical center of Albania. And all because in the XV century George Kastrioti, who is a national hero of the country today, organized a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. The uprising culminated with the famous banner, which included the image of an eagle in black on a red background, first hoisted over the fortress of the city of Kruja.

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Attractions of Kruja

The modern town of Kruja is a favorite tourist destination. Most of this is due to the fact that the city is located near the sea. But this is not the main reason for the development of tourism. To the north east of the city is a large national park “Kafa Stama. This place is famous for its lush forests and lakes, hot springs with their healing effects, as well as medical center, where you can improve your health.

At the peak of the city is located Kruja Castle, where you can see the architecture of the Middle Ages, climb to the top of the ancient walls, which opens spectacular scenery. Also at this place every tourist can visit the City Museum of Ethnography, as well as the Skanderbeg Museum.

Medieval Town of Kruja

Kruja Castle

Along the paved street that leads straight from the castle, you can walk to the Old Bazaar, which sells a large number of souvenirs, unique items and handmade fakes. It is impossible not to mention the monument to warrior Skanderbeg, which is set in the center of Kruja.

Tirana and its attractions

Tarana is the capital of mysterious Albania. If you want to collect as many impressions of Albania as possible, then welcome to Tirana.

The capital of Albania is nestled in a valley in the middle of the mountains and on the coast of Ishm. The surrounding areas and the capital itself are covered with lush carpets of vegetation.

Tirana is not only a fascinating, but also a comfortable city. Everything in the capital is compactly arranged, so it is very convenient to walk and carefully explore everything.

Excursions in Tirana, usually begin with a central square Skanderberg. Not far from it there is an oriental bazaar. The market is distinguished by its coloring. In this place you can buy original souvenirs by local craftsmen, as well as deeply understand the culture of the city.

In the capital of Albania is definitely worth a visit to the National Historical Museum – one of the largest in the country. This place will introduce you very closely to the history as well as the culture of Tirana and Albania.

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National History Museum

National Historical Museum

International Hotel is another attraction of the capital. This building is notable for its height, with a large-scale mosaic mural decorating its facade.

What will surprise is the Palace of Culture, which stands out somewhat from the general color, made in an unusual Soviet architecture. The palace includes a theater that anyone can attend. There is also an art gallery and a cozy cafe. In addition, Palace of Culture is also the National Library of Albania.

Not far from the Palace is the Etem-Mey mosque of XVIII century. This mosque is the most picturesque structure of Tirana with its beautiful dome and minaret. Not far from the mosque the clock tower of XIX century is situated.

Etem Mei Mosque

Etem Mei Mosque

A must-see is Desmoret e Kombit Boulevard which houses the Archaeological Museum and the Palace of Congress in an ultra-modern architectural style. The Archaeological Museum includes an exposition that deals with the history of Albania from prehistory to the Middle Ages.

A breathtaking view of the city of Tirana will open from the Cemetery of the Martyrs, a popular tourist spot. The cemetery will present every visitor with the monument “Mother Albania”.

The outskirts of Tirana will lead the tourist to the Museum of Enver Hoxha, erected of white marble. The museum often organizes exhibitions.

Museum of Enver Hoxha

Museum of Enver Hoxha

Useful Information

Public transportation in Tirana consists of buses and route cabs. The fares are extremely budget friendly (you can pay from the driver). Buses and shuttles can be taken from the capital to the larger cities. Also in Tirana there is a railway transport, but it is very uncomfortable to travel.

In the capital of Albania can also rent a car. It is very easy to rent a car: you just need a driver’s license, a credit card, and you must be 19 years old or older.

Kruja is situated in 32 kilometers from the capital of Albania – Tirana. You can get to Kruja from Tirana by bus, which leaves from the central station every 1.5 hours. The travel time is 30 minutes. If you decide to get by car with your GPS-navigator, you’ll need to enter the following coordinates: 41.517778, 19.797778.

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