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One can see the ruins of the Kruja Castle at the base of Kruja’s mountain. The castle holds within it the National Museum “Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeu,” known simply as Skanderbeg Museum, dedicated to the most revered of all Albanian heroes. Skanderbeg’s ability to reunite Albanian families that had been divided for six centuries, made him the important national figure that he is today It was Skanderbeg’s return to Kruja, following his childhood in Turkey, that forever linked the city to his name and vice versa. Indeed, he was the leader of the country during one of its most glorious periods. Gjergj Kastrioti created an army that successfully fended off the Ottomans’ advances for 25 years, until his death in 1468.
It is not sufficient to say that the Skanderbeg Museum is a national treasure. Ever since its opening in 1982, this Kruja landmark has been one of the most visited places in the country. This monument represents a grand collaboration of experts of all fields including a team of important Albanian architects, led by Pirro Vaso and Pranvera Hoxha. They drew inspiration from the conceptual platform devised by Aleks Buda, then chair of the Academy of Sciences of Albania. Teams led by the renowned historian Kristo Frashëri and talented Albanian painter, Bashkim Ahmeti also contributed to this large-scale project. Originally conceived as a memorial, its architecture is seamlessly synchronized with history and the medieval arts. The museum beautifully impacts Kruja’s skyline, blending in with the landscape. It also adds a contemporary flair to the medieval Castle of Kruja.
A large alto relief of Skanderbeg and his brave soldiers confronts the visitor upon entering the museum. This massive sculpture reflects the highly symbolic moment of the countless wars led by this national hero. It also masterfully details the clothing and armor of the time. Many of the museum’s visual art pieces portray Skanderbeg in his various roles as statesman, warrior and battle commander. The pavilions store documents, original bibliographies, and reproductions which recount the history of Albania during the 15th century.
The museum shows the life and history of the Albanian principalities. The chronological exhibit takes the visitor through ceramic, bronze, iron, and copper objects as well as original icons and swords of the period. Don’t miss the beautiful bell that dates back to 1462! Beautiful Byzantine-style frescoes cover the museum walls. These images romanticize Skanderbeg’s return to Kruja and glorify the unification of the once-divided Albanian principalities. The National Museum in Kruja is equipped with guides in both Albanian and English.