A Local’s Guide to Tirana: Discover the Capital through its Adobe Brick Alleys
With an array of fascinating sites to visit in the capital, visitors may concentrate on central locations and overlook the rich history and culture to be absorbed while taking a stroll in any one of its many historic streets.
In the last few decades, beginning with the shift in political regimes in 1990, Tirana has undergone a dramatic change in appearance. The capital currently reveals a mix of traditional elements and continuous contemporary construction. Underneath its new veneer, there are plenty of hidden spots so full of history that, through their very existence, show the city’s character. Thus, in order to get the full story, we suggest you pay a visit to the city’s historic neighborhoods and walk through their alleyways. If you happen to be a street photographer, so much the better! The streets below will give you plenty of opportunities to showcase your talent.
Located near Skanderbeg Square, Durrës Street is a favorite among the locals. It includes a number of old alleyways that are well worth visiting. Here, you will find a few historic houses that represent precious artefacts of the capital’s history. For instance, there’s Tafaj Villa, dating from 1920, which has now turned into a business space.
Not far from this villa, you can find the building of the former Radio Tirana, one of the structures symbolizing the development of art and media in the capital. In this street, it is best to keep strolling and enjoy the aesthetically strange journey.
Starting from the area the locals call “Selvia” and making your way to “Shkolla e Kuqe” (Red School), you will see several alleyways that have managed to retain their original form. The most interesting here are the old house gates and houses built with adobe bricks, valuable remnants of the original city. Though they are interweaved with more modern structures, you will notice them immediately.
One of the absolute must-sees in Dibra Street is the Villa of Sali Shijaku, the house-museum of one the most famous Albanian painters of the 20th-21st centuries. Over 300 years old, this villa is among the oldest of the capital, a veritable treasure of modern art and Tirana’s traditional architecture.
Located in the city’s periphery, Kombinat
is a 6-km, but very walkable, distance away from the center. The residential neighborhood
was established at the height of the Communist regime in 1950. It comes from
the “Stalin Textiles Factory,” an important production center. Now, the old
monumental entrance of Kombinat and the administrative building belonging to
this factory remain fascinating site for tourists visiting the
Its name comes from an industrial chimney located in the area. Not exactly a pleasant mental image but, with its characteristically Communist-style buildings, this neighborhood attracts an ever-growing number of fascinated visitors. The biggest draw, perhaps, may be how contemporary murals, decorations, and graffiti have given the once decidedly colorless facades a new life but still have not managed to entirely do away with the old one.
you’re hungry for more, and have the time and energy, three other, off-the-beaten-path
parts of Tirana are worth adding to this guide: the areas known as “Durrës
Restaurant,” near Medrese, “Xhamllik” and “Profarma.”