Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Nov 24, 2007

2007 Albania, Tirana

September 27-October 14, 2007
October 5

We reached Tirana early in the afternoon. The whole city was lit up by bright sunlight. The streets and squares were crowded with people, many on their way home form work, school, or a shopping trip. Some were out with their families.

As capital of Albania, Tirana has experienced a cultural boom, in the last few years. It has become a bustling metropolis with many restaurants and cafes. As a part of its mayor’s campaign to beautify the city, many buildings have been repainted in bright colors.

Our visit to Tirana began with a guided tour of Skenderberg Square, a large open space bounded with many of the city’s important monuments.

In the southeastern corner is the equestrian statue of Skendrberg (George Kastrioti). He is Albania’s national hero. He led the Albanian resistance to the Ottoman onslaughts. Starting in 1443, he fought and won 25 battles against them. But finally in 1468, the Ottomans succeeded in overcoming the Albania resistance and conquered the country. They ruled it for about 450 years. Beside the statue are some of the government’s administrative offices.

Just north of the statue is the cupola and minaret of the 18th century Ethem Bey Mosque. Some of the nation’s best artisans were employed to build, when its construction started in 1729. But it was not completed until1821.

Besides the mosque stands the Clock Tower. It was installed in 1821. In 1928, it was fitted with a modern German clock and its height was raised.

On the east of the square is the Palace of Culture.
The National Museum of History is on north of the square. Built in 1963, the museum is believed to be the country’s largest and finest museums. It was a gift from the Soviet people. Its facade is adorned with a Russian style mosaic mural.

On our way to Sheraton Tirana Hotel and Towers, where we stayed for the night, we had a

walking tour of the downtown. We came across saw some unusual sights.

And a vehicle on sale (Shitet).

Near our hotel, on a large platform, there was a life-size statue of Mother Teresa. Although she was born in Skopje, Macedonia, apparently she is venerated in Tirana also.

On account of a concert and entertainment for the city’s youth,

the police had blocked off a wide boulevard near our hotel. Loud music continued till about midnight.

The dining room at the hotel was very chilly. I blamed it for the cold which bothered me for the next several days.


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