Published on January 3, 2014
Welcome to Albanian Alps - Thethi Albania 00/01 Albania Albania is a land to be loved. In this small Mediterranean country, virgin nature and cultural mysteries combine to create a unique sense of place. From the crisp white snow of the mountains to the red fields of spring poppies, Albania’s landscape is ever-changing with the seasons, offering visitors to enjoy a warm summer beach holiday or a challenging mountain trek in the fall. In Albania, visitors are welcomed as guests as part of the country’s rich cultural traditions and heritage. The warm hospitality of the Albanians will make everyone feel at home in this small wonderful land. Come to Albania! We welcome you as our guest! www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al
Albanian Hospitality Known as the “Land of the Eagles” (“Shqipëria”) in Albanian, the country of Albania has a long history of tourism, dating back to the time of Emperor Justinian in the fifth century. The Emperor’s family was known to vacation at Lin village on the shores of Lake Ohrid, just north of Pogradec. Several other famous travelers have traveled to Albania over the centuries: Lord Byron, Edith Wharton, Rebecca West, amongst others. Many of them left their impressions of Albania through their written works, describing in glittering terms this “Land of the Eagles”. The first tourist association in Albania was established in 1928 as the “Royal Tourist Automotive Club”. A few years later in 1933 the first National Tourist Organization was established. After the Second World War in 1955 the ALBTURIST enterprise was established as a state controlled company. In April 1992, Albania created its first Ministry of Tourism, which has varied over the years with different names. Today the Ministry also encompasses the sectors of culture, youth and sports. The Albanian National Tourism Agency (NTA) was established in September 2007 by a special decision given by the Council of Ministers and is part of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports. Hospitality is just one of the reasons that tourists come and visit this small country. Within a small territory, Albanian nature is amazing. The country is home to twelve national parks, all of them with something unique to offer. The Albanian coast offers visitors an escape to calm, quiet waters as almost the entire coast is sheltered from winds, making it a paradise for swimmers. Throughout the centuries Albania has been a contact point for numerous cultures, from the Illyrians to the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Byzantines and Ottomans.
Albania 02/03 Explore Albania with us! The country is located in the heart of the Mediterranean and is sprawling along the seashores of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. Albania is an important gateway to the Balkan Peninsula, a junction of roads from north to south and from west to east. It has the viability of reaching the major European capitals within 2 or 3 hours of flight. The tourists, at their first cultural and visual impact will notice an epic country, with a very old culture, in which probably is spoken one of the oldest languages of Europe. As a result of the geographical position, in Albania there are traces of different civilizations and cultures Illyrian, Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Slave, Ottoman, etc. Kosova, Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro and Italy through the Adriatic Sea surround Albania’s borderland. Although a small area it offers a diverse nature. There are many wonderful beaches, spectacular mountains with various forms of snow, river valleys, large canyons, and many other surprises for visitors. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al There are many forests rich for their flora and fauna, many large and small lakes, some of which are unique in the Balkans for their genre. The culture and history are impressive and have a lot to offer to the tourists. Butrint, is considered as one of the most magical archaeological sites. It is located in the south of Albania and is part of the UNESCO’s world heritage program, apprized as one of the most imperial places on earth, full of mythology and mystic atmosphere. The site lies in the center of a real Mediterranean jungle, and it is built by an ancient Trojan style. In the UNESCO’s world heritage list there are other two Albanian cities prominent for their specific and old architectural style, Berat and Gjirokastra. The country offers a whole complex of archaeological sites, Illyrian castles, medieval fortifications, Byzantine churches and monasteries of the postByzantine period.
Who are these Albanians? Nowadays Albania territories have been populated 100,000 years ago. At the beginning of the third millennium BC, in the area it was established an Indo-European population. As a result of the merge it was conceived a population that retained the characteristics of specific cultural and language in the Balkan Peninsula (pelazgieas). Based in the older inhabitants, between the second millennium and the first century BC was founded Illyrian population. The Illyrians, as the Greeks, preserved their language and traditions, regardless of the Roman centaury occupation. The Greeks arrived in Epidamos (today Durrës), Apollo and Butrint in the seventh century BC, settling there with self-governed colonies. In the north with the expansion of the Ardianai Kingdom, based in Shkodër, a new conflict with Rome started, which in the year 229 BC culminated with Rome sending a fleet of 200 ships against Queen Teuta. In 167 BC this war ended up with the expansion of Roman Empire control all over the Balkans. The most important trade route between Rome and Kostandinopoli was Egnatia road, which passed through the port of Durrës. With the division of the Roman Empire (395 AC), Illyria fell into the occupation of the eastern empire, later known as the Byzantine Empire. Three of the first Byzantine emperors (Pari Anastasius I, Justin and I Justian) were of Illyrian origin. From 1443 until 1468, the Albanian resistance under the command of Skanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti), won 25 battles against the Turks led by Sultan Fatih Mehmet the conqueror of Kostandinopoli who failed to invade the city of Kruja.
Albania 04/05 After the death of Scanderbeg, it was a matter of time for the Ottomans to defeat the Albanian resistance, taking control of the country in 1479; 26 years later Kostandinopoli was occupied. For more than 400 years, Albania has been under the Ottoman regime. Muslim citizens were the favored by the system, which excluded them from the Janisari. A tax that required every Christian family to provide one their sons, converted to Islam to serve the Ottoman army. As a result, many Albanians converted to Islam but always breeding harmony and religious tolerance. Numerous efforts and rebellions for independence brought to the declaration of the independence in November 1912. From year 1912 until the end of the First World War, the country became prey by the attacks of the neighboring states. Mussolini Italian fascist’s occupied the country in 1939, ending the Ahmet Zogu monarchy that lasted 11 years. In 1943, Hitler’s forces occupied the country. The resistance to foreign attacks is known as the Anti Fascist National Liberation Front. In November 1944 when the German troops of the Third Reich left the country the Communist Party came to power. Shortly after, the totalitarian regime was established under the leadership of the communist leader Enver Hoxha. Around 50 years of this regime of isolation policy was applied. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al The self-support system used by the communist regime banned Albania from foreign investments, leaving the people in great economic poverty until 1991. This was the time when Albania eventually emerged from isolation. From 1991 to 1997, the Democratic Party governed the country, but as consequence of the failure of pyramid schemes, in 1997 the coalition of the Socialist Party took power until 2005. After the last elections, on 3 July 2005, the coalition of the Democratic Party took power again. Albania is a member of the NATO alliance now and is actually involved in a series of processes and reforms aimed at economic growth and the country’s admission into the European Community.
Mother Teresa Eliza Dushku Stan Dragoti Ismail Kadare Inva Mula Ibrahim Kodra Jim Belushi Ferid Murati Angelin Preljocaj Albanians: the Great and the Good These are some of the most prominent Albanians in the international arena, but there are many others with conspicuous success in present times. Most importantly, these sons and daughters of a small country like Albania confirm the vitality and the verve theses people hold, by listing us proudly in the big human terrestrial family.
Albania 06/07 Albanians today The sage, the humanity and the geniality of this small nation is revealed, and signified in many outstanding figures, who proudly have unfold their extraordinary work in the international arena, helping the development and global prosperity, peace, art and culture, science and medicine worldwide. The country is home of the great figure of the humanity, Mother Teresa of Calcutta whose maiden name is Gonxhe Bojaxhi, her parents were both Albanians and many other personalities. Her activities in humanitarian assistance to people in need, poor and victimized by wars, are unprecedented, transforming her in the image of a saint for the whole humanity. These Albanians are in many, but we’re going to mention only some of the boldest of them. From the foremost is the writer Ismail Kadare, who has won many prestigious international awards, among which the most important is the “Man Booker International Price”. The Great Kadare is published in almost every country of the world, and he was also nominated several times for the Nobel Prize. Also the opera singer Inva Mula ranks among the ten best sopranos of the world, with a repertory of extraordinary arias from almost all of the genius opera composers of all time. The soprano appears in the most prestigious opera scenes of the world and is particularly much appreciated in the “La Scala” of Milan and in the “Metropolitan” of New York. In the field of arts and letters, the violinist Tedi Papavrami, is described by the media criticism as the “The little Albanian virtuoso”, because of the admiration he sparked when he was a child with the sound of his violin in many international stages. Another major talent named by French media as the genius of the contemporary choreography, is the Paris Opera House ballet maestro, Angjelin Prelocaj, whose works stand alongside the works of the Great Nurejev. Born in 1957 of Albanian parents who had immigrated to Paris, he began his career by studying classical dance before turning to contemporary dance. He has received many prestigious prizes, among them the “Chevalier dee L’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres”. To achieve a position in the history of contemporary visual arts is an indisputable merit, considering the immense surge of painters and sculptors, endless modern and postmodern currents of the XX century. This merit was given to Ibrahim Kodra, born in the town of Durrës and formed and shaped as an artist in Italy. His masterpieces stand alongside other famous painters such as Modigliani and exposed in the most well known galleries around the world. On the other side of the Atlantic, many other famous Albanians are contributing in their respective areas. Among the foremost in the sphere of medicine is the Nobel Prize Ferid Murad with the invention of the Viagra pill. The famous Hollywood actor James Belushi and his brother John Belushi, considered as the Elvis Presley of the American Comedian. Eliza Dushku, the young actress of Albanian origin. Another very successful Albanian is the movie director Stan Dragoti, who led the New York City promotion campaign named “I love New York”. Fadil Berisha the great photographer living in New York, considered by the critics as a focus of genius.
Ancient echoes “Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity” Iso-polyphony is an epic form of the oral art of singing in Albania, which has its origin in the ancient times. It is now present in southern Albania, especially in the provinces of Gjirokastra, Tepelena, Vlora, reaching its culmination in the Ionian coast, in Himara and the surrounding villages. One of the masterpieces of the iso-polyphony is the song titled “The girl of the waves”, written by the poet Neço Muko, whose subject is based on the immigration and it is sang in Himara region. The 25 November 2005 is a historic day for the whole cultural heritage of the Albanians, in this day the Albanian Iso-poliphonia folk music joins the list of “The Masterpiece of the Human Oral Heritage”, protected by UNESCO.
Albania 08/09 Gjirokastra, the city of stone. The Albanian UNESCO sites Albania ranks as one of the countries, part of the UNESCO world heritage. Thus the archaeological point of Butrint located in the south of the country, is part of the UNESCO world heritage list since 1992, being the first Albanian site enlisted. The other two cities are Berat and Gjirokastra (since 2005). Butrint is the country’s major archaeological site. The settlement was inhabited since prehistoric times and it’s important to mention that has been part of Greek and Roman colonies. Later, it was followed by a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration, and then ruled by Venetian domination for a short period. The city was abandoned in late medievalism. The present archaeological status of the site shows traces of all the periods of time that the city has gone through.
The culture of Albania has evolved over hundreds of years The most ancient objects are a stone hammer and a shaft belonging to the second half of the second millennium BC. Hekateu firstly mentioned the city, by the end of the VI century BC. He affirmed that the city was built according to Troy and the origin of the name refers to the sacrifice, a bull named “Buthrotos” provided by the Trojan prince Enea on his way to Dodona. On its early periods Butrinit was the center of the Kaonic tribes, later to become part of the kingdom of Epir. In the years 1926-1936 the Italian archeologist Luigi Ugolini led his excavations in the southern Albania. He focused his work in Butrint and Finiq, where he discovered: the baptistery, the theater, the basilica, the public baths, many houses, and a great number of object sand statues of inestimable value. The most extraordinary objects discovered in the theatre of Butrint are the statue of Apollo, the goddess of Butrinti, the marble heads of Zeus, the Agrippina’s portrait, as well as many Latin and Greek epigraphs. In the V century BC part of the city was rebuilt. In the IV-XIII century the city was mention as an Episcopal center. In the years 1080-1085 the city was in the hands of the Normans and then ruled by the Venetian, who in the XIII centaury builds up a fortification securing the city for four long centauries. In the future years the French invaded the fortification but in 1798 Ali Pashë Tepelena annexed Butrint. He constructed two forts to protect the strategic point from the French attacks coming from Corfu. The ancient city of Butrint passed in the hands of the Ottoman invaders until the period of the Independence. Nowadays Butrint is one of the most tourist hot-spot and is certainly an object of pride in our country’s past history.
Albania Tirana: a dynamic capital city Tirana is the capital of Albania and also the main economic and cultural center of the country. Tirana is relatively new; Sulejman Pashë Bargjini founded it in 1614. In the place where today is the monument of “The Unknown Soldier”, he firstly built a mosque, a haman and a stove, which at the time were the main institutions of a newborn city. In 1816 Toptani family ruled the city. The most important event for Tirana is 11 February of the year 1920, when Lushnja Congress declared it provisional capital of Albania, which would have gained the definitive status in 1925. Following this act the city had a constant growth, which continues and has taken momentum especially after 1990. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al Famous Italian architects project the center of Tirana at the time of Mussolini. Tirana Boulevard “Dëshmorët e Kombit” was built in 1930, while the central square “Scanderbeg Square” was during the years 1928 -1929. In year 1968, on the occasion of the 500 memorial of the death of national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg his monument was inaugurated in the “Skanderbeg Square”. Thirty years after in the square was added the monument of the dictator Enver Hoxha. Shortly after on the 20 February 1991 the students and the people oust it from the square. In Tirana you can visit a network of museums and galleries such as the National History Museum, the Archeology Museum, the private Museum “Mezuraj”, the Gallery of the Figurative Arts, numerous private galleries etc. Some of the most important monuments and sites in Tirana are Mosaic Saint George, the walls of the Tirana’s Castle, the tomb of Kaplan Pasha (one of the medieval rulers of the city), the “Tabak Bridge”, Mosque of Ethem Beut etc. 10/11
Tirana is simultaneously the center of many important institutions such as the Palace of Congresses, the International Cultural Center, the Palace of Culture with the Opera House and the Ballet Theater, Sky-Tower, etc, as well as the governmental buildings of the Council of Ministers, the Presidency and the Parliament. In the southeast of the city, lies the park with an area of 250 ha, which includes the 55 ha artificial lake, the memorial of the British and German soldiers fallen in Albania during World War II, the Botanical park and a the swimming pool complex the ideal place for leisure activities. The Clock Tower.
Albania 12/13 Nightlife in Tirana The capital is the most dynamic center of Albania with a lively nightlife, which is a fascinating combination of theaters, restaurants and clubs. Most of them open all night long. There are a variety of places to entertain you. Bars and clubs (located in the former block area) playing all kind of live music, such as jazz, house, funky, Latin, etc. You can choose to go at the “Irish Pub” or at the “Tirana Hard Rock Cafe” an American style saloon playing hard rock music. Tirana is home to the Opera House, the National Theater and many other galleries and museums, which in recent years have been the stage to many artists and performances famous worldwide. Tirana overnight offers you a wide range of cocktail bars, where you can enjoy some very delicious cocktails while listening to the selected music by the best DJ. Downtown is “Regency Casino” inviting all the warm-blooded people about gamble. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al
The Petrela Castle The Petrela Castle is located 18 km away from the capital alongside the TiranaElbasan national road and it is one of the main tourist points near Tirana. The fortress rises on a rocky hill above the village with the same name. This Castle has a triangular shape with two spotting towers. Its first construction period belongs to antiquity, while the current architectural profile dates on the XV century AD. Discoveries show that the Castle of Petrela, is a medieval fortress built at the time of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, in the VI century AD. The castle was constructed on top of a high rocky hill. The southern and the southeastern side are extremely craggy, which made the fortress protected and unreachable. The Petrela Castle was built at the time Vila Castle (an ancient stronghold lying in front of Petrela Castle) lost its importance. The fortress was built for military purpose, guarding the Egnatia’s road branch Tirana-Durrës-Elbasan, which at the time had a particular significance. At the beginning of the XIV the stronghold was part of the Topiaj dominion, the rulers of a region flanked between Mat and Shkumbin. In the walls of the castle is the first insignia of Topiaj family.
Albania 14/15 Mentioned in ancient times by the Roman poet Katulus as “The Adriatic tavern”, Durrës is one of the oldest cities of Albania with a 3000-year of history. Founded in the year 627 BC by the colonists, coming from Korinth and Korkyra, the city was originally named “Epidamnos” and later “Duyrrachium”. Now days the city, is the country’s principal port and is daily connected with the ferry lines to the Italian ports of Bari, Brindisi, Trieste and Ancona and the Slovenian port of Koper. Durrës is known for its nearby sea resort, which is the largest and most popular in Albania.During the summer season it is the home for thousands of tourists from Kosova, Macedonia and also for day visitors. In southern part of Durrës beach the “Kavaja rock”, known in roman times as Petra is located. In was here that in antiquity, the battle between Julius Ceazar and Pompey, took place. The most important monument to be visited in Durrës is the roman amphitheatre build up in the first century AD. It is the second largest monument of this type in Balkan. Other things of interest are the archeological museum, the rotunda (the Byzantine forum), the Roman baths, the castle walls, the small Venetian fortress etc. Part of the UNESCO’s world heritage list, Berat a “2400 year old museum”, is located 130 km away from the capital of the country. Built alongside Osumi River, the city lies by the foot of Tomorri mountain, considered in antiquity as a sacred place. Named, as “The city of one above the other window”, Berat has two characteristic quarters Mangalem and Goricë. It is described as a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman city located in central Albania. Part of the city is the castle, which was built in the 13th century, but its origins date back to the 4th century BC. The center of the castle is rich with many Byzantine churches; most of them are unique for the wall paintings, icons and the values they hold. The cathedral of St. Mary is housing the “Onufri”, National Iconographic Museum. To be mentioned is the fact that the city of Berat, has a considerable number of mosques built in the Ottoman period. The King’s Mosque (Xhamia e Mbretit) is the oldest one built in the XV century, at the time of Bayazid II and is notable for its fine ceiling. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al
The city of Korça is located in the southeastern part of the country. It is one of the largest and most important cultural and economical centers of Albania. The city is known for its typical quarters, composed by low houses and villas, which are paved with cobblestone. The city of Korça has a range of museums such as “The Education Museum”, which is located in the building where the first Albanian school opened in 1887, “The National Museum of Medieval Art”, “The Prehistoric Museum”, the house-museum of the famous landscapepainter, Vangjush Mio, the museum of the oriental art “Bratko”, etc. In the vicinity of the city, there is the cemetery of French soldiers fallen during the First World War. Korça is the city where the largest carnival in Albania, are organized. This event takes place before the Orthodox Eastern. The city is known for the local songs, called serenades. In the city you will find many taverns with tasteful traditional cooking such as various types of pie which perfectly combines with the good music and the traditional drink, raki. Korça is a very good base for exploring many tourist points located in the nearby mountains such as Voskopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi and Boboshtica. These villages are well known for offering the possibility to practice many outdoor sports and activities. Beside that the area is famous for the Byzantine churches of Vithkuqi and Voskpoja, whose internals are painted by the famous Albanian medieval painters. Not far from Korça you can visit Prespa Lake, which is the country’s largest national park, the Neolithic tomb of Kamenica, etc. The city of Porgadec was built in the southwestern shores of Lake Ohrid and is one of the most notable cities of Albania for its tradition in hosting “family tourism” and for the pleasant, fresh climate during the summer season. The tectonic lake is the deepest of its kind in the Balcan Peninsula. Its maximal deep reach approximately to 300 meters and is 4 million years old. The lake envoirmnet retains a very old flora and fauna. It houses the rare fish, called “Koran”, a kind of trout, unfoundable almost in any other lake in the world. Lake Ohrid is part of the Natural and Cultural Heritage list of UNESCO. The most tourist spots around the lake aret Lin, Pojskë, Hudenisht and Tushemisht. Worth visiting are the Driloni water sources, located 5 km from Pogradec. There are very nice restaurants constracted with wood, and offering some of the most delicious dishies of the region. Do not miss the Koran’s dish (Tavë Korani). Besides nature, Pogradec and its vicinities provide a big number of historical sites such as the Basilica of Lin along with their multicolored mosaic, the monumental graves of the lower Selca, which are unique in their kind, etc.
Albania 16/17 Vlora is an old city founded in the VI century BC, known by the name Aulona. Vlora has a very beautiful natural position located in the front of the Karaburun peninsula and Sazan Island and surrounded by beaches and rocky sand. The city carries historical values to the Albanian nation hosting the First Assembly, which declared the country’s independence from the Ottoman ruling on the 28 November 1912. The Museum of Independence is dedicated to this historic event. Other museums are the ethnographic and historic ones. Highly recommended is the “Muradije” mosque, the only work remained in Albania from the famous architect Sinan the Great, built in 1542. On the top of the hill overlooking the city is the religion point of “Kuzum Baba”. Vlora is the starting point to the Albanian Riviera and is one of the most frequented areas of the Albanian “Sun and Sea” tourism. In this region are the archeological parks of Orikum and Amantia and the National Park of Llogara. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al The city of Saranda enjoys a very good position along the Ionian coast and nearby the Greek island of Corfu. These two locations are regularly connected via ferry links, which makes possible for tourists to visit all the marvelous sites of the city of Saranda. The city was firstly mentioned in I century BC with the name “Onhezmus”. The ancient city was destroyed by the barbarian invasions. However, some ruins remained, and today is possible to visit the old settlement as well as the old synagogue. Saranda is well known for its sunny weather and has traditionally been the ideal destination for the honeymooners and the young people. In the city and not far from, there are some small and very clean beaches like Ksamil, Krorëz, Kakome etc. There are good natural opportunities for different water activities. The area round Saranda is blessed with a number of archaeological sites. Definitely the most important is Butrint. Part of the UNESCO’s world heritage list, since 1992 is only 18 km away from the city. Beside numerous objects like the Askelapius temple, the Theater, the Stoa, the portals, the Baptistery, the Venetian fortress you will have the possibilities to walk in a real Mediterranean jungle dominated from high trees and daffiness. This eco-system is a National Park. Other important sites are the ruins of the 40 Saints Monastery, which denominates the modern city of Saranda, the Mespopotam church and the three-angular castle of the Vivari channel. Only 2 km south of Saranda on the top of a high hill is the Lëkursi castle, a nice place for having a tasty meal while enjoying the Ionian extraordinary landscape. Other places wit interest are the “The Blue Eye” water sources, the ruins of the ancient city Fonikes (Finiq), a former settlement of the Kaonian tribe etc.
The traditional city of Gjirokastra is part of the World Heritage list of UNESCO, and is one of the most attractive tourist sites of the country. Perched on the eastern side of the Wide Mountain (Mali i Gjërë), its activity started with the IV century castle, which is today the greatest castle in the whole country. Inside the fortress is the Museum of Weapons, where weapons of different periods until Second World War are exposed. Old houses build by stone resembling to small castles and streets paved with cobblestone are some of the main touristy attractions. Gjirokastra is also known as “The City of Stone”. In Gjirokastra, you can visit the ethnographic Museum, which is located in the house where the former communist dictator Enver Hoxha was born. The city is a very good starting base to reach the Archaeological Park of Antigonea, the Tekke of Melan near the village of Nepravishta, as well as the untouched natural areas of the fir of Sotira in Dropull, the water sources of Viroi, etc. Shkodra lies in northwest Albania, near the lake with the same name, which is also the largest lake of the Balkan Peninsula. Shkodra is an ancient city founded in the IV century BC as the main center of the Illyrian Labeat tribe. The city was originally named Scutari. Shkodra is one of the main centers of Albanian culture and history. The main attraction visited by tourists is the Rozafa Castle, which belongs to the Illyrian period. The castle was builds on a rocky hill located in the west side of the city, surrounded by three rivers: Drini, Buna, and Kir. Other interesting and historical places to visit are the Historical Museum, the Marubi atelier of photography, the “Lead” Mosque built by Bushatlliu in 1774, the Englishman’s Clock (Sahati i Inglizit), the Great Coffee (Kafja e Madhe) designed and built in 1900 by the local architect Kolë Idromeno, the typical quarters of Gjuhadoli and Serreq built with venetian architecture, the Cathedral Church, the Brotherhood Church (Kisha e Fretërve), etc. There is a great number of natural and architectural places surrounding the city to be visited, such as the Velipoja beach, the Shkodra lake with the picturesque villages and Shiroka and Zogaj, where you can enjoy the unique cooking of the carp dish (Tava e Krapit), “Ura e Mesit”, a bridge on the river Kir, the ruins of the medieval city of Sarda in the Vau Dejës lake. Shkodra is also the gateway to the magnificent Alps of Albania.
Albania 18/19 Elbasani is the country’s third largest city, which was once a settlement and a station, on the ancient “Via Egnatia” (Egantia road). The city was originally known as Skampa. The rebuilding of the castle by Sultan Mehmed the II in 1466, named the city “Ilbasan” which means, “to rule the country” to be later transformed in the today’s name Elbasan. Some of the most interesting objects in the city are the walls of the old castle, encircling residential quarters. Inside the walls the one can visit the St. Mary church, having a very beautiful iconostas and the King Mosque (Xhamia Mbret). Other objects are the Ethnographic Museum and the thermal waters in the vicinity of the city, which are used since the Roman period. 4 km away from the city is the Monastery of St. John Vladimir built by the Albanian prince Carl Topia in 1382. In this monastery, were also found the buried remains of Montenegrin Prince Vladimir, which were respected by local residents by performing sacred processions on his honor. Other sites to be visited in Elbasan are the churches of Shelcan and Valësh which were painted by the famous Albanian iconographer, Onufri. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al Kruja is 32 km away from the capital and very close to the Tirana International Airport. The historic city of Kruja is 608 high meters above the sea level and offers an open vista to an amazing panoramic view. There you can visit the Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti “Skenderbeu” and go shopping in its old traditional market. The name and the importance of the city are closely related to the 25 years of activity of our national hero, Scanderbeg, who in the XVI century made Kruja a bastion of uncompromising resistance against the Ottoman. The Gjergj Kastrioti Museum, is situated inside the castle, which dates V-VI century AD. The museum itself is inaugurated in 1981. Within the walls of the castle are the Ethnographic Museum and the Dollma Tekke. Interesting enough is the traditional market near the castle’s entrance, which dates from the period of Scanderbeg. Here tourists can find Albanian craft products such as embroidery, carpeting, silver objects, copper, alabaster, filigree, traditional clothing, antiquary etc. Kruja is 54 km from the capital and 82 km from Durrës, country’s main maritime entrance.
The house is always open for guests The Hospitality, the Culture and the Art Hospitality is an old Albanian tradition. In the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini (Ancient North Albanian code) was written “The house is always open for guests”. In the tradition of the hospitality, the foreigners are always treated with special respect. Albanians are a friendly people and make visitors feel very welcome.
Albania 20/21 Beside, hospitality that was highly estimated in centuries by travelers, in Albania is worth mentioning the many rich traditions and folklore of the country, which is extremely rich of resources and forms. During your visit through ethnographic museums as well as by following artistic folkloric activities you will be able to enjoy this wealth inherited in centuries that still continues to blossom in the nowadays. Albanian Art has left its traces in the European arena by authors such as the musician Jan Kukuzeli of the XI century, who has contributed in the field of Byzantine music by composing a system of his own, known as “The Kukuzeli system”, the famous iconographer of the XVI century, Onufri, known especially for its unique artistic value, and many others. Inva Mula is a regular performer at La Scala, where she has sung in “La Bohème” and “Manon”, “La Traviata” among others. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al Now days Albania is part of the contemporary world of arts and culture through the range of artists in different disciplines. Your visit in Albania is a good opportunity to visit many art galleries, exhibitions, museums and also to follow a wide range of different activities.
Curly pelicans: on the most western nesting point in Europe The curly Pelican One of the most specific species of the Albanian is ornitofauna. In addition to the fact that he is located in some areas of Albania, he is well adopted to the natural environment as the most western point of his European habitat. This place is the Karavasta lagoon in the Adriatic coast, which is the largest lagoon of the Albanian coast with a surface of 4,330 hectares and at the same time one of the largest lagoons of the Adriatic. For this reason the Karavasta lagoon is protected by the International Convention since 1994 and enlisted in the RAMSAR list. Inside the lagoon is a small sandy island where flocks of pelicans usually stay together. It is very pleasant to observe this island while approaching by boat. The curly Pelican is considered as endangered specie while the number of this exemplar is decreasing worldwide. The Karavasta lagoon in Albania still retains 5 percent of its population in the world scale.
Albania 22/23 Divjaka Pines National Park This Park is 40 km from the town of Lushnja or 5 km from Divjaka. It has an area of 1,250 hectares part of the Karavasta Lagoon under the protection of RAMSAR International Convention since 1994. Here is one of the most important ecosystems in the country. The fauna of the Park is particularly rich with the curly pelican (a very rare specie) Dajti National Park Located to the east of Tirana, it has an area of 3,300 hectares. It is 50 km far from the international airport or 26 km from Tirana. The park has a number of 200-year old beech trees that are really worth visiting. Daily visitors frequent the Park that it is considered Tirana’s “natural balcony”. Accommodation is available for tourists interested in more than daylong stays. Thethi National Park Located in the Albanian Alps, by the Cursed Mountains (Bjeshkët e Namuna), it has an area of 2,630 hectares. It is 70 km far from Shkodra and is run through by the Theth River with a plentiful supply of mountain trout. The Grunas waterfall is particularly worth visiting. In addition, there are many oak trees and a variety of animals in the park. Lura National Park It has an area of 1,280 hectares to the east of “Kunora e Lurës”. The most picturesque feature is the 14 glacier lakes of Lura, which are frozen in the winter. To the south, you can visit the “field of mares” which has a wide variety of colorful plants and coniferous trees. The Park has great possibilities for developing eco-tourism. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al constituting about 5 % of world population of this type of pelican. Llogara Park About 40 km to the southeast of Vlora, this Park is where the Adriatic becomes the Ionian Sea. Near the Llogara Pass, a number of very interesting tree shapes due to wind currents can be observed, for ample “Pisha Flamur” (the flag Pine). From the Llogara Pass, visitors can see the Ionian Sea, the sharp slopes of Vetëtima Mountain and a good part of the “Albanian Riviera”. It is a great spot for air sports as well as a wonderful climate due to the combination of mountain and sea air.
Valbona Valley National Park With an area of 8,000 hectares this is the gem of Albanian Alps. It is located 25-30 km to the north west of Bajram Curri town. It lies between high mountain peaks and it is a festival of colors and contrasts. Its biodiversity makes it very important as a tourist attraction. The Valbona village is the focal point of the Park. Its configuration, hydrology, forests, flowers, characteristic dwellings and the hospitality of its people make the park an ideal place to visit. Tomorri Mountain Park With an area of 4,000 hectares, the Park is to the east of the museum city of Berat. From afar, the mountain of Tomorr gives the impression of a gigantic natural fortress. Here is also the grave of Abaz Aliu (Kulmak Tekke), 1,200 m above sea level. Every August thousands of pilgrims go up to the tekke for a week thus stimulating religious tourism. Fir of Hotova National Park With an area of 1,200 hectares in the region of Frashër, it is located about 35 km to the northeast of Përmet. Its characteristic is the Hotova Fir, which is one of the most important Mediterranean plant relics of the country. Thanks to its great nature, healthy climate and proximity to living quarters, this Park has great recreational value year round. Shtama Pass National Park With an area of 2,000 hectares, the Park is 25 km to the northeast of Kruja. The water sources “Queen Mother” is one of the most attractive spots in the Park with clean, cold and curative waters. A large number of visitors frequent the Park. Zall Gjocaj National Park With an area of 140 hectares, it is 40 km to the north east of Burrel. It is a very picturesque park with a number of underground water sources and creeks. Prespa National Park It has an area of 27,750 hectares and straddles the borders of three countries: Albania, Greece and Macedonia. It contains the lakes of Prespa e Madhe and Prespa e Vogël and their water source. It is an area rich with cultural tradition. Eremite Byzantine churches exist in the cave of Tren, Prespa e Vogël Lake, Trajani’s castle, St. Mary’s Church and in the island of Maligrad. Butrint National Park This Park is located about 25 km to the south of Saranda. It has high scientific, tourist and archaeological values as well as a high biodiversity. The park is 2,500 hectares. The following activities can be carried out in this area: blue tourism in Ksamil, ecotourism in Butrint Lake, fishing, water sports etc. Fir of Drenova National Park Located 10 km from the city of Korça, the park has an area of 1,380 hectares. Locals as well as tourists visit it frequently. Many drinking water sources such as Shen Gjergji, Plaka, Pllica and others are located in the Park.
Albania 24/25 The Republic of Albania has a considerable costal line length of 450 km (including lagoons), extending it in to two seas: the Adriatic and Ionian, which have different characteristics from each another. The Adriatic beaches are sandy with shallow waters, making it suitable for family holidays. The main beaches are those of Velipoja, Shën Gjin, Durrës, Golem, Spillenjë, Divjaka, Vlora’s new beach etc. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al Beside the beaches, the Adriatic cost is rich of many lagoons, natural ecosystems with important opportunities for those passionate about the birds studying and observation and the eco-tourism. The Ionian costal line is known for the fascinating beaches with deep and very clean waters. Young people mostly visit the Ionian beaches. This area offers many opportunities for those found of water sports like, diving, boat tours etc. Some of the most exotic and interesting beaches in the south of Albania are Dhërmi, Jali, Himara, Qeparo, Borsh, Saranda and Ksamil.
The small country spread in two seas There are many lakes in the territory of Albania, differing in size and characteristics. The most famous is Lake Ohrid with a surface of 362 km2, of which 1/3 belongs to Albania. The lake is 300 m deep ranking itself as the deepest in the Balkan Peninsula. The historical values and the diverse flora and fauna enlisted this naturalistic site as part of the UNESCO’s cultural and natural heritage. There is a variety of aquatic species in the lake.The most famous and particular one is Koran, a very tasty fish. The city of Pogradec was built on its southwestern coast of the lake and is well known for its climate. Alongside the lakeshore there are several tourist centers such as Lini, Pojska, Pogradec, Drilon and Tushemisht, where many hotels and guesthouses offer all optimal conditions for a wonderful and relaxing vacation. Shkodra Lake possesses a surface of 362 km2, which 149 km2 belongs to Albania. The main tourist centers are Shiroka and Zogaj, offering numerous hotels and restaurants.
Albania 26/27 Komani Lake in the North Albania. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al The area is famous for the variety of fish dishes such as: carp, eel and shtojzë. The Main leisure activities are fishing, swimming, sunbathing and the exploration of the area. Prespa Lake with a surface of 285 km2, which 38.8 km2 belongs to Albania is known for the small island of Maligrad. For those exploring the island it would be very interesting to see the old eremite church there. Those who are willing to explore more of Albania will be able to see the artificial lakes formed by the Drin’s cascade (Vau i Dejës lake, Koman lake and Fierza lake).The artificial lakes of Shkopeti and Ulza, the small glacial lakes of Lura, Balgjait, Doberdol, Sylbice, Rajca, Lukova, etc.
Liquid therapy Thermal waters in Albania & Health Tourism Albania enjoys a number of thermal water sources, located in different parts of Albania like in Peshkopia, Bilaj in Fushe-Kruja, Elbasan, Vronomero in Leskoviku, Bënjë in Përmet, etc. These thermal waters are famous for having regenerative and curative characteristics. Some of them were exploited in the Roman period such as the thermal waters of Elbasan.
Albania 28/29 The Postenant steam baths near Leskoviku and the drinking water sources of Kroi i Bardhë in the Municipality of Selita, in Mirdita are known for the valuable medical attributes in curing disease like asthma, skin diseases, arthritics, neurologic diseases, gastritis, rheumatism etc. Some of these water sources offer contemporary accommodation services like the “Ibrahim Kupi” SPA Center in Bilaj, Elbasan, in Peshkopia and Leskovik. Health Tourism Dental tourism is a new term to us but in fact has begun being very sensitive toward significant actors in this field. Durrës is among the cities with the largest number of tourists in the summer season and has begun to practice massively health tourism, primarily in the field of teratology. Albania offers low prices on the market for dental services and great quality in this sector. In recent years the Albanian immigrants who live outside Albania have exploit massively this health service. Now this kind of treatment is being used by foreign citizenship as well. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al
Leisure sports and adventure The Albanian nature with its various forms and variety offers numerous opportunities for exercising many types of sports and activities for a remarkable vacation. Mountains and hills, which occupy 2/3 of the country extending from north to south offer opportunities for activities such as hiking, trekking, walking, climbing, skiing, caves exploration, mountain bike, etc. The most beautiful and most frequented areas are those of the Albanian alps like Thethi, Valbona, Vermoshi, Razma, the area of Korça with many hot-spots like: Voksopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi and Boboshtica as well as many other points as many other like Dajti, Llogaraja, Gërmenji, Tomorri etc. Albania is a country with dense hydrographic network. The area offers numerous rivers, gorgeous valleys, full of narrow gorges, canyons and other surprises. Water sports such as rafting, canoeing, are much popular in this region. To be mention are the canyons in Osumi river, the Këlcyra gorge, the upper Vjosa flow in the Përmeti region, the Devolli valley, and in the Shala Valley in the Albanian Alps. Albania has a lot of places suitable for practicing air sports like paragliding, flights with delta plan etc. The most important point to exercise these sports is Llogara, and the mountains of Morava in Korça. In the last years the Albanian territory has been part of many international races.
Albania 30/31 The Pirogoshi Cave The Pirogoshi cave is located in the Skrapari province and constitutes the largest cave with a length of over 1,500 meters. It is situated at an altitude of 450 meters above sea level near the village Radesh, 3 km from the city of Çorovoda. The cave has a wide entrance of 12 meters and an altitude of approximately 5 meters. Inside is rich of stalactite and stalagmites. Quite interesting to visit is the “major corridors”. The cave ends with a deep well where the colonies of bats live. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al
Traditional Albanian Food and Beverages Traditional Albanian Food and Beverage The Turkish, the Balkan and the European kitchen mostly influenced the Albanian kitchen. This is known for its high nutritional values of food and the very good taste. Almost every province offers its particular specialties. The cookery of the grilled meat, especially lamb and preparation of various pies is widespread across the country. The middle and the southern Albania are well known for using a large-scale of vegetables, the olive oil, various spices and lemon. The fish dishes are especially popular in the town of Shkoder, the Carp Dish (Tava e Krapit), in Pogradec the Koran with walnuts, as well as many other fish dishes in the coastal zone of the Ionian and Adriatic etc. Albania is famous for a variety of pastry; a big number of them are common to other Balkan countries and minor Asia. One of them is “Ballokumja”, a traditional cake whose ingredients are corn flour, butter and sugar, which originates in the town of Elbasan and is delivered as a treat for the Summer Day’s event (March 14). As a result of the suitable Mediterranean climate, Albania is known for cultivating grapes and producing a variety of red and white wines. The most famous are: Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Kallmet, Sangiovese, Riesling, etc. But the most famous alcoholic drink in Albania is Rakia (a type of brandy whose main ingredient is mostly the grape’s juice). Some other areas of Albania (Korçë and Dibër) use the plum’s fruit to produce the brandy or the raspberry in Boboshtica. Albania is also known for producing the Skanderbeg cognac, famous for its taste and flavor. This Albanian cognac has won many international awards. Among the nonalcoholic beverages is to be mentioned Boza (a cornbased refreshing drink), produced in the north of the country especially in the province of Kukësi and its vicinities.
Albania 32/33 Typical albanian flavours and souvenirs You cannot leave Albania without taking first a souvenir from the country, so full of tradition. These typical Albanian products are an example of the impersonation of the Albanian people tradition, which is clearly expressed and maintained from generation to generation. These craft works are applied in different techniques such as wool, wood, copper, silver etc. Since ancient times artistic craftworks were important components of the Albanian culture. The traditional wool clothes, shajaku (pressed wool craft used in different parts of Albania), elegant fabric clothes (used especially for festive events), show this heritage with its stylish art too, whose embroidery of various gold and silver threads are very unique. www.albaniantourism.com & www.akt.gov.al Works in filigree, copper are used to create various works of finery, as well as works in gold, wood engraving, weaponry decoration in gold and silver applied in centauries are part of this cultural heritage. Famously known for the souvenirs trading and classical in its kind, is the old market of Kruja. Distinguished for wool products, such as carpet, fez, the wooden pipes, the old products of copper, filigrees etc. Beside Kruja the tourists and the visitors are welcomed to visit all the other cultural center of Albania such as Berati, Gjirokastra, Tirana and Shkodra, where they will be able to feel and to appreciate souvenirs of this wonderful tradition, which are the real expression of our ancient origins.
Cultural Events March 14 “The Summer Day” (various activities and concerts) November 29 “The White Night” (music and different festive activities) May: “Tirana’s Jazz Festival” “Top Fest” November: The International Book Fair June 21 “The International Day of Music” (musical bands playing music everywhere and different activities) September 16 Peza’s event (different activities) September The Biennale of Tirana (every two years) “Poeteka” November 2 “The Tirana’s autumn” (concerts with chamber music) December: Tirana Film Festival (the most important cinematographic event) The Albanian Song Festival (transmitted by the National Radio Television) “The Magical song” (music festival) These events are organized annually with no specified opening day. The International Photography Competition "Marubi" The International Visual Arts Competition "Onufri" International Music Festival "Marie Kraja"
ri e D u ë rr s n Durr -A o n ës-B ari a Marina ur -T c Seaport D s rë e st International Airport p Town Village Ko District Capital s- National Capital rë LEGEND ADRIATIC SEA Murriqan Durrës Roman Amphitheatre Bishti i Pallës Shëngjin M Laç Er Lake Ulëz TIRANA Dajti M Lake Fierza M Bizë Burrel Zall Gjoçaj D n i M i Z Maqellarë ri Peshkopi Black Lake Bulqizë Lurë Kukës Bllatë MACEDONIA REPUBLIC OF KOSOVA Qafë Morinë Shishtavec Krumë Qafë Prushë Lura Lakes Kurbnesh Rrëshen Zgërdhesh Krujë Scanderbeg Museum Shën Anoi Qafë Shtamë Ethem Beu Shijak Fushë Krujë Rodoni Bay Rubik Shën Epifania Kallmet Pukë Koman Tropojë Tourist Map Morinë Fushë Arrëz Sylbice Valbonë Bajram Curri Valbonë Lake Koman Lake Shkodër Vau i Dejës Mesi Bridge Drini Lezhë Bay M Theth Theth Vermosh Bogë Razëm Koplik Lalëzi Bay Rodoni Cape Velipojë Bu në Lake Shkodra Hani i Hotit MONTENEGRO r Du er at
Tourist Information Thermal Waters National Park Hunting Ground or Vlo Vl Br di to si ran in Ot rë- ë- V j o së Kérkyra (Corfu) M M Sarandë Konispol Qafë Boti Antigone Përmet Vj os Kakavijë Labova e Kryqit Gjirokastër Butrinti Sarandë Finiqi M Frashër um Hotovë Os Vithkuq ë M Bilisht Tre Urat Dardhë Kapshticë Lake Prespa e Vogël A L B A NI A GREECE Bozdovec Kamenicë Boboshticë M Korçë Lake Prespa Island of Maligrad Tushemisht Prespa Lake Ohrid Maliq Leskovik Voskopojë Lin Ersekë Pogradec Dushku Lake Çorovodë Gjirokastra Castle Ancient Buthrotos Butrint ll Qafë Thanë Selca e Poshtme Shelcan Librazhd Shebenik-Jabllanicë Tomorr vo Këlcyrë Delvinë Memaliaj Lukovë Himarë Qeparo Borsh Kakome Bay Palasë Dhërmi Llogara Mangalem De Elbasan Shën Kolli Perondi Berat Tepelenë Bylis M Gramsh Banja Lake Kuçovë M Ballsh Amantia Muradie Mosque Kanina Orikum M Vlorë Selenicë M Cërrik Petrela Dumrea Lakes Margëlliç Patos n ma Se Lushnjë M Peqin Rrogozhinë Divjakë Fier Llogara Vlora Bay IONIAN SEA Sazan Treport Cape Apolloni M Ardenicë Agonothetes Monument e n Mosque Kavajë bin kum Sh Dalmatian Pelican Karavasta Lagoon Durrës Bay rz ri Diving Fishing Paragliding Spelunking Skiing Water Sports Beach Vineyards M Museum Traditional Tower Old Bridge Fortress Bektashi Tekke Catholic Church Orthodox Church Christian Monastery Old Mosque Archaeological Site UNESCO Site Cable Car Railroad Secondary Road Country Boarder National Road Boarder Crossing D no -Corfu
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