Architecture - Into Albania

Architecture

The distinctive yet all-encompassing architecture of Albania is one of the biggest draws to the country. Many of the world’s ancient civilizations have passed through Albania, each leaving their particular trace on the country’s architectural legacy which includes Illyrian, Greek, Roman (Butrint), Byzantine, Ottoman (Gjirokastra and Berat), Austro-Hungarian, Venetian (Shkodra), Italian, and finally communist, post-communist, and modern western influences (Tirana).

Grand medieval castles and ancient bridges, intimate Venetian houses  and ancient cities, archeological parks, churches and mosques whose intricate frescoes and mosaics rival the world’s most famous ones, brightly-painted facades of communist-era residential buildings, Fascist-era monuments and institutions, iconic landmarks, and those famous bunkers, slowly becoming some of the best hostels in Europe!

Yet, here, there’s always more! For its small size, Albania contains an overwhelming amount of the world’s history within it. The entire nation resembles an open-air museum with countless stories to tell.

By: IntoAlbania

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Site of Witness and Memory

Shkodra

Few are those places where the terror of the former communist dictatorship can be profoundly understood in this day and age. One of them is the Site of Witness and Memory, a museum of remembrance dedicated to the prisoners and victims of the former regime. Built in the 19th century, by Arsen Idromeno (father of [...]

Site of Witness and Memory

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Lock-in Tower of Theth

Shkodra

Rising over the center of the spectacular alpine village of Theth, this tower holds the history of an entire region, told in detail by one of the tower owners’ descendants. The Lock-in Tower of Theth, also known as the Tower of Nikoll Koçeku, is one of the most valued historic and architectural monuments of Albania’s [...]

Lock-in Tower of Theth

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COD: A space dedicated to...

Tirana

The Center for Openness and Dialogue was created with a simple objective: transforming a part of the Council of Ministers headquarters into a space dedicated to the citizens by giving the message of openness, transparency and transformation. COD was first opened to the public on July 8, 2015; a unique cultural center, seen by the [...]

COD: A space dedicated to...

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The National Archaeological Museum

Tirana

One of the most important museums in the country, the National Archaeological Museum in Tirana contains some of the most famous treasures of Albanian archeology. If you would like to travel through centuries of history and learn about all the ages of an ancient place like Albania, the National Archaeological Museum, located in the very [...]

The National Archaeological Museum

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Museum of the Bank of...

Tirana

Situated at the heart of Skanderbeg Square, the Museum of the Bank of Albania is one of the most fascinating and modern spaces to visit in the entire country. Taking out monies from our wallets and using them as a means of exchange may be one of the most naturally recurring events of our lives. [...]

Museum of the Bank of...

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Gjon Mili Museum

Korça

With an exhibit of 240 photographs and interactive spaces, the Gjon Mili Museum is one stop in the city of Korça that you simply cannot miss! Gjon Mili is one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. Born in Korça in 1904, when he was still a child, he and his family emigrated to [...]

Gjon Mili Museum

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Spaç Prison

Lezha

This once terrifying prison and labor camp of the Communist period in Albania, in the last decade has become an important site of remembrance for locals and a fascinating attraction for tourists. The Communist prison has by now become a spot of remembrance for Albanians as well as those who remain fascinated with Albania’s history [...]

Spaç Prison

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Aleksander Moisiu’s House-Museum

Durrës

Open daily, the Aleksandër Moisiu’s House-Museum, a structure of beautiful architecture and ethnographic exhibits as well as childhood home of famed actor Aleksandër Moisiu, is one of the must-see attractions in the historical center of Durrës. The museum is located near the Durrës Amphitheater. The road leading to it is especially beautiful as it seems [...]

Aleksander Moisiu’s House-Museum

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Elbasan Ethnographic Museum

Elbasan

Located in the center of the city, not far from the Castle of Elbasan, this museum is housed in a traditional two-story 18th century house that tells of the culture, folklore and lifestyle in this medieval city. The museum that recounts the story of Elbasan’s culture and lifestyle is housed inside one of the city’s [...]

Elbasan Ethnographic Museum

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Vila Austria 1843: The Still...

Durrës

Located at the very heart of Durrës, less than five minutes away from the Amphitheatre and other similar monuments, Vila Austria 1843 offers a unique rendezvous with the city’s history. You’d be hard pressed to find a more convenient and fascinating place than Vila Austria 1843 when staying in Durres. The age and history of [...]

Vila Austria 1843: The Still...

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Museum of the First Albanian...

Korça

A requisite stop in Korça is the Museum of the First Albanian School. Located across “Unknown Soldier,” its yard is decorated by the ABC obelisk, the museum’s symbol. Opened in March 7th, 1887, this first secular school in the country is locally known as “Mësonjtorja.”  Here, the visitor can find copies of the original Albanian [...]

Museum of the First Albanian...

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Mangalemi-Tomi Hotel: A Place Rich...

Berat

Known as Tom’s Hotel to the locals, this place, also a historically and culturally significant house for Berat, is a wonderful accommodation option for those who want to truly enjoy their stay in the historic city. It was in 1991, precisely after the fall of the Communist regime, that Mangalemi-Tomi Hotel opened its doors in [...]

Mangalemi-Tomi Hotel: A Place Rich...

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Promenade in Vlora

Vlora

Buzzing at all hours of the day and night, this wonderful kilometers-long walkway has you partaking in all kinds of fun activities while never leaving the seaside. The promenade in Vlora, stretching along the Ionian shore, is one of the best locations for relaxing strolls, meditation, yoga, cycling and other sports, socializing and all kinds [...]

Promenade in Vlora

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Flag Square

Vlora

Albania’s Independence was declared on November 28th in Vlora, thus marking the most significant moment in the history of Albania. As the place that saw the entire National Independence movement take place, Flag Square in Vlora is one of the most important squares in the country. You will see the Independence Monument right in the center [...]

Flag Square

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The Lëkursi Castle

Saranda

If you visit Saranda, you should definitely make a stop at the Lëkursi Castle. This fortress dates back to the 16th century and is constructed in the shape of a square with two round towers sitting diagonally to one another. Its strategic position on a hill of about 300 meters in height as well as its [...]

The Lëkursi Castle

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Petrela Castle: An Intriguing Medieval...

Tirana

A gorgeous medieval fortification nestled in the hills not so far outside of Tirana. Petrela is a fantastic escape with great authenticity and surrounding views to die for. Petrela Castle & Village is undoubtedly a local favourite as far as natural city-escapes around Tirana go. Located a mere 18 km from Tirana, this authentic medieval [...]

Petrela Castle: An Intriguing Medieval...

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Bajram Curri Mill: A Typical...

Kukës

Built more than 120 years ago, the Bajram Curri Mill stands along the beautiful Valbona River. Because of its fame, locals simply refer to it as Mulliri i Currit (Mill of Curri). This small center of history and culture is located only 4 km away from the town of the same name. Fortunately, the tower stands [...]

Bajram Curri Mill: A Typical...

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Mic Sokoli Tower

Kukës

You can find Mic Sokoli Tower in Bujan Village, along the road that takes you to Bajram Curri in the Gjakova highlands. Tropoja locals consider this three-story, 18th century construction an icon of their historical and cultural heritage. The reason is simple. Mic Sokoli, a beloved Albanian hero, was born and raised here. Sokoli died [...]

Mic Sokoli Tower

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Bridge of Gorica

Berat

A bridge with a fascinating history, complex architecture, and a beautifully simple aesthetic style, it has drawn admirers across the ages. Built in the centre of the city of Berat, the grandiose Bridge of Gorica is one of the most beautiful Ottoman bridges in the Balkan region, and connects the city with the neighborhood of [...]

Bridge of Gorica

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Marubi National Photography Museum

Shkodra

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. How much worth then would be found in Marubi’s collection of 400,000 hauntingly-beautiful photographs of Albanian life, spanning from 1850 until today? The Marubi National Photography Museum, now conveniently located along the main promenade of the city of Shkodër, displays an extensive collection of negatives mounted [...]

Marubi National Photography Museum

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Rozafa Castle

Shkodra

From its ancient Illyrian walls and the medieval ruins of the Balshaj, to the Towers of the Bushatllinj, Rozafa Castle is a monumental testament to the beauty of an everlasting fortress. Built during Antiquity, enduring the Roman and Ottoman empires, and remaining intact up to the present day, Rozafa Castle has witnessed the dramatic changes of [...]

Rozafa Castle

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National Museum of Medieval Art

Korça

This exhilarating museum perfectly preserves the glory of the medieval art works that lie within, which are displayed in a contrastingly modern architectural space, for the perfect blend of old with the new. The National Museum of Medieval Art in Korça is one of those places where the modern and the old blend seamlessly together, [...]

National Museum of Medieval Art

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Ethnographic Museum

Gjirokastra

This ethnographic museum and house of former Albanian leader Enver Hoxha, provides a rich insight into the lives led by the upper-classes in the 19th and 20th centuries, and offers an interesting insight into a key period of Albania’s history. If you find yourself walking through the beautiful cobbled streets of Gjirokastra, and ask for directions to [...]

Ethnographic Museum

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Preza Village: A Medieval Castle...

Tirana

Preza may very well be one of the most attractive day trip destinations and a must visit for anyone who longs to get away from Tirana and immediately surround themselves by idyllic scenery. Preza, one of the most scenic areas of the valley of Tirana, takes you on a journey from the heights of Kruja’s [...]

Preza Village: A Medieval Castle...

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The Pyramid of Tirana: A...

Tirana

Indisputably a symbolic landmark of the capital, the Pyramid of Tirana is a relic portraying a turbulent past and an uncertain yet hopeful future. An opinion splitting landmark described in a myriad of ways ranging from magnificent, ugly or just simply rather bizarre. However, its importance for the city of Tirana has never been brought [...]

The Pyramid of Tirana: A...

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Bunk’Art 1

Tirana

Ever wondered what lengths a communist ruler would go to amid the constant paranoia & the threat of the enemy haunting them? Well, Bunk’Art 1 is five levels & 3000m2 of underground protective bunker, the product of Enver Hoxha’s fear of nuclear fallout. Albania’s landscape is heavily punctuated with the aftermath of Enver Hoxha’s communist [...]

Bunk’Art 1

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Bunk’Art 2: From Nuclear Shelter...

Tirana

An excellent re-imagining of a Communist-era nuclear bunker, Bunk’Art 2 museum and art space reflects Tirana’s initiative to use culture to celebrate the birth of a new era, whilst remembering its solemn past. The unearthing of this underground tunnel in the center of Tirana, echoes the uncovering of ancient ruins in any of the world’s [...]

Bunk’Art 2: From Nuclear Shelter...

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The National Gallery of Arts

Tirana

Showcasing the finest works of Albanian artists, the National Gallery of Arts boasts a large array of paintings in a multitude of styles, stemming from different periods. Some of these works perfectly portray art under the influence of government, telling a tale of Albania through creativity.  Albanian fine arts exist uniquely in comparison to the [...]

The National Gallery of Arts

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The House of Leaves Museum:...

Tirana

The infamous monitoring techniques of the Communist Era and its severity were perhaps best captured, for the very first time, by the 2006 German film “The Lives of Others”. A film which highlighted to the entire world about what went on behind the scenes in a typical communist-ruled capital. At the time of the film’s [...]

The House of Leaves Museum:...

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Kruja Castle

Kruja

Kruja Castle was historically one of the most important defensive strongholds in the country, fending off legions of foreign invaders throughout the centuries. Today, it stands as a proud reminder of Albanian perseverance and strength. Krujë Castle has proudly stood on top of a rocky cliff, high above its city, for the last fifteen centuries. [...]

Kruja Castle

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“Ndre Mjeda” Center

Shkodra

A place to appreciate Albania’s most famous poet Ndre Mjeda, the surrounding landscapes that inspired him, and a chance to view where he sat and wrote his national treasures. It is a rare occurrence for the Jesuits to offer up their “sacred place” to poets. In fact, this happens only in the Church of Kukli [...]

“Ndre Mjeda” Center

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Castle of Elbasan

Elbasan

Foreign travelers in the ‘800s noted that cities like Elbasan no longer existed in Europe. Indeed, this is a rare town! Skampis, as this fortress-town was once called, was founded in 1466 by two strikingly different leaders: the Roman emperor Justinian and Sultan Mehmet the Second. The two-thousand-year-old Castle of Elbasan, a Roman construction built [...]

Castle of Elbasan

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Mesi Bridge

Shkodra

The magical Mesi Bridge is an understandably treasured Albanian monument, with a rich visible history, crossing the beautiful crystalline waters of the river below. Bridges, as the Bosnian author Ivo Andrić poetically claimed, are God’s angels, sent to earth to spread their wings in order to unite people who have been separated from Satan’s rivers. [...]

Mesi Bridge

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Memorial of Skanderbeg

Lezha

The Memorial of Skanderbeg is the most monumental tomb in Albania. Though it does not contain the remains of the greatest Albanian hero, George Castriot Skanderbeg, this memorial remains a place of high significance for Lezha and the entire country. Skanderbeg’s connection to Lezha began with the Lezha Covenant, signed on March 1444. With this [...]

Memorial of Skanderbeg

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Byzantine Forum in Durrës

Durrës

To this day, the Byzantine Forum remains the center of the modern city of Durrës, as it once was the Roman Byzantine center of the ancient city of Dyrrhachium or Dyrrah. It seems that things change only very slightly! This forum is recognized as one of the most beautiful monuments of the late Roman and [...]

Byzantine Forum in Durrës

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Amphitheater of Durrës

Durrës

The Amphitheater of Durrës remains one of the most majestic of the ancient world and one of ten most beautiful Roman amphitheaters. Widely recognized among enthusiasts of Antiquity, it is a pearl of the Balkans that is slowly making its way out of the shell. Discovered relatively recently, in 1966, its unearthing occurred in a [...]

Amphitheater of Durrës

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Berat Castle: From Antiquity to...

Berat

This castle is the pride and joy of the city of Berat. It’s courtyard offers spectacular views of the city and the valley below, and you’re sure to get a warm welcome from the friendly inhabitants of the castle’s grounds. Erected on top of a hill during the 4th century B.C., Berat Castle is as [...]

Berat Castle: From Antiquity to...

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Historical Museum of Shkodra

Shkodra

The Historical Museum of Shkodra, situated in a city renowned for its former splendour and importance, is a wonderful location for all you nostalgic souls out there – full of history, culture, and beauty! Many Albanians already recognise the city of Shkodra as one of the most valued cultural centres of the country. Many renowned Albanian poets [...]

Historical Museum of Shkodra

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Presidential Palace in Tirana

Tirana

The Presidential Palace of Tirana, popularly known as the Palace of Brigades, boasts unique architecture and spectacular gardens making it a must-see destination in Tirana. The Presidential Palace is a monument of national heritage in Albania, one whose architecture is sure to leave a lasting impression on you. The surrounding royal gardens here give the [...]

Presidential Palace in Tirana

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Castle of Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra

The Castle of Gjirokastra resides in a dramatic location, on the hilltop overlooking the city. It gave a nifty vantage point to witness the changing tides of Albanian history across the centuries. When the fog falls over Gjirokastra, the Castle of Gjirokastra is all that can be seen, rising majestically over the city. Like a [...]

Castle of Gjirokastra

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Elbasan Arena

Elbasan

The rather new international football stadium in Elbasan has invigorated the atmosphere of this small historic town.  Elbasan Arena is one of the two largest UEFA-certified stadiums in Albania. For a few years now, this stadium has been home to one of the most globally loved sports, football (soccer), and has seen thousands of international [...]

Elbasan Arena

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The Bratko Museum of Oriental...

Korça

The Bratko Museum of Oriental art is more than just a collection of rare and fascinating Asian artefacts. It is a testament to the character and inspiration of one of Albania’s most important photographers. If you look deep into any museum’s story, you will most likely find an interesting tale of a dream or an [...]

The Bratko Museum of Oriental...

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Onufri Museum

Berat

Onufri painted some of the most important, divine, and beautiful religious painting in Albania, and there’s nowhere better to see his unforgettable tones of colour than here in the churches of Berat, and the museum dedicated to this artistic legend. As you embark on this artistic pilgrimage, prepare yourself to witness some the most beautiful [...]

Onufri Museum

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National Ethnographic Museum

Kruja

The National Ethnographic Museum is a fascinating insight into traditional Albanian household customs, brought to life through the vivid storytelling of a wonderful guide! The National Ethnographic Museum in Kruja presents the story of Albanian customs and traditions throughout the centuries, and thanks to the captivating guide of this museum, you’ll come to understand them [...]

National Ethnographic Museum

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National Museum of Independence in...

Vlora

As the building which hosted the operations of the very first Albanian government, the Museum of Independence in Vlorë is strategically positioned in a location that testifies to its significance, near the port, with a beautiful view of the sea. This modest, two-story house is filled with the weight of history! Founded in 1936, this [...]

National Museum of Independence in...

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Castle of Lezha

Lezha

The Castle of Lezha, built on a hill from which you can see beautiful sights of the Drin River, the city of Lezha and the Adriatic Sea, is one of the most interesting cultural and historical monuments of the country. The history of the castle remains inseparable from the city which it observes from its [...]

Castle of Lezha

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