Taking you from the Bronze Age, to the Communist era, and everything in-between. Located in Skanderbeg square, at the very heart of Tirana, the National Historical Museum is home to the country’s vast historical and cultural heritage.
Inaugurated in 1981, this space now holds more than 5,000 artifacts in its multitude of splendidly designed pavilions. The National Historical Museum is recognisable by its iconic façade, which displays a gigantic mosaic entitled “Albania” (that’s Shqipëria, in Albanian). Standing as one of the constructions from the Socialist Realism period, the mosaic fittingly depicts the glorified heroes of the working class. Memorable and imposing, the mosaic greets the visitor on arrival, and sets a precedent for what lies in store at the museum.
The Antiquity Pavilion
The Antiquity Pavilion retains the most valuable objects from all of the Pavilions in the National Historical Museum. Here, an exhibition of around 400 objects from the Bronze Age kicks off Albania’s origin story and highlights the best from the era’s classical art. The pavilion’s undisputed masterpiece is without a doubt the iconic “Beauty of Durrës” mosaic, the oldest mosaic in the country, one that dates back to the 4th century B.C. Multi-coloured pebble stones, in a myriad of shapes and sizes, depict a huge image of a beautiful woman. Another equally iconic masterpiece of the same era is the “Dea of Butrint”. As you travel Albania keep your eyes peeled, as you will see many a replica of this marble bust throughout the country.
The Medieval Pavilion
The Medieval Pavilion, split into two halls, exhibits works from a rather lengthy period that spans from the 4th to the 15th century respectively. Most noteworthy is the “Epitaph of Gllavenica” (from the 14th century), a gorgeous silk piece embroidered in gold thread. Other artifacts here come in the form of traditionally crafted objects, as well as historical Albanian coins and emblems, to name but a few. The National Renaissance Pavilion recounts and depicts the time of Albania’s national awakening. The Independence Pavilion ushers in the era of the country’s proclamation as a republic, back in 1912.
…and so much more to see!
The most aesthetically pleasing pavilion is perhaps that of Iconography. It displays a collection of 65 richly-hued icons from the most prominent figures of Albanian iconography. The famous Onufri, his son Nikolla and Onufër Qiprioti are amongst those you can see in this pavilion. If you’re looking for a more ethnographic experience, you’re in luck, as the museum offers up over 250 cultural objects deriving from the country’s various territories. Never to be forgotten, the World War II Pavilion boasts a large collection of more than 200 objects and artifacts. And last but not least, the newly introduced Communism Pavilion authentically recalls the period from 1944-1991, displayed through some 130 objects originating from the era. Regardless of your specific interest, there is no question that the National Historical Museum showcases the most interesting and significant periods of Albania’s history, which is sure to leave any visitor in absolute awe.