Аlbania - Tirana

The last mistery of Europe


In the heart of the Mediterranean, on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Alba- nia is fast becoming one of the wo- rld's most interesting getaways. Still relatively unspoiled by globalization, tourists will notice an inspiring mi- xture of civilizations and cultures - making this European country truly unique.

Curiosity inspired us to go to a country we knew nothing about. In about an hour and forty we came from Budva, driving by Petrovac and Bar, to the Albanian border, i.e. the border crossing Sukobin. Around twenty minutes away from the border, we came across Skadar, one of the oldest cities in the south of  Europe, surrounded by Skadar lake, and two rivers - Bojana and Drim. The history of the fo- rtress Rozafa, which dominates the city, has lasted for over two thousand years.

Skadar is the most important urban center of Northern Albania, reno- wned in the entire country for its rich cultural traditions. It is one of the la- rgest cities in Albania, with a po- pulation of 110,000 inhabitants and it is one of the most ancient cities in Albania. It was founded in the 4th century B.C. as the centre of the Illyrian tribe of the Labeates. Under the rule of the Illyrian king Gent, it became the capital of the Illyrian state. This is the period when the first coins of the city appear. In 168 BC it fell under Roman rule and in 1040 under Serb rule. In the 14th century it became the capital of the Balsa feudal principality. In 1396 it was occupied by Venetian forces and in 1479 by the Ottomans, who razed the city to the ground. The city recovered slowly and in the 17th century became the most important centre of trade and culture in Northern Albania, while one century later it became the centre of the Skadar Paschaluk (1757-1831). During this time the Bushatllis, who governed the Paschaluk, created a rich library. Skadar is known as the city where the first workers' strike took place in 1901 and where the 1st of May was first celebrated in 1905. Skadar also has a rich tradition in music, painting and literature, with a long list of renowned artists and writers.

We will make 30-minute photo-pause, to take photos of biggest mosque on Balkan. In arranged time we continue our trip towards Tirana. We will see a lot of bunkers, scattered all over the land, like mushrooms after rain. People say that only Enver Hoxha knew why they were built and what their purpose was. It is said that there is more that 700.000 of them. After approximately an hour and a half of driving, we came to Tirana, the capital of Albany. The centre of Tirana resembles a beehive where everyone drives carefully, but failing to observe traffic signs and regulations.About twenty years ago, there were only four registered cars in Tirana, yet today, this modern city, whose population has doubled in recent years(estimated at around 1,200,000 inhabitants, average age 28) has got over 200,000 cars, with the Mercedes of the most various age forming the absolute majority. If we make a comparison of the present look of Tirana, which is developing rapidly, with the fact that Albany was isolated from the rest of the world for fifty years, it could be said that this country of eagles is taking huge steps forward.               

Tirana is the capital of Albania and also the most important political, economic and cultural centre of the country. It is located in a very favo- rable position, right in the centre of the country, to the west, the Adriatic Sea and the largest and most popu- lar beach in Albania, the Durres be- ach, are only 32 km away, while to the East, the Dajti Mountain, 1612 m high, is only 26 km away.

Tirana is a relatively young city. It was founded in 1614 by Suleiman Pasha Bargain, a local feudal lord who built the first buildings that formed the nu- cleus of the new town: a mosque, a hammam, and a bakery, at the place where today is the monument of the Unknown Partisan. In 1816, the town was ruled by the Toptani family. The most important date in the history of Tirana is 11 February 1920, when the Congress of Lushnja proclaimed it the provisional capital of Albania, which was changed into a full status in 1925. After this decision the city has known constant growth, which rea- ched unprecedented rates in the 1990s. The Tirana downtown was desi- gned by well-known Italian architects of the Mussolini period. The Big Tirana Boulevard "Dëshmorët e Kombit" (Martyrs to the Nation) was built in 1930, while the main square in the centre, Skanderbeg Square, was built during 1928-1929. In commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the death of the Albanian National Hero, Skanderbeg, an equestrian monument was placed there in his honor.

In 1988, a monument of the former communist dictator was also placed in the square, but it was toppled on 20 February 1991, by students and the people of Tirana. Important bui- ldings in Tirana include the Palace of Congresses, the International Centre of Culture, the Palace of Cu- lture and the Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Sky Tower etc., as well as government buildings of the Council of Ministers, Presidency and Parlia- ment. In addition to the Great Park in the southern part of the city, Tirana has other parks such as Rinia (Youth Park), the Parliament Park, the park close to the Presidency building, etc. Tirana is a major convention, confere- nce and seminar centre in Albania. Also, owing to its young and student population, Tirana has an attractive night life offering a variety of restaura- nts, cuisines, bars, pubs and night clubs to visitors and locals alike.


Tirana - City map