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Due to its 2000-year-old multi-cultural history, Albania is unique in the religious tolerance it has traditionally provided, with spiritual places coming from different religions. Though perhaps no other country in the world has seen such peaceful co-existence of so many of the world’s religions, the process has not been without its obstacles.
The Roman and Ottoman empires left many traces of the Christian and Muslim religions, which were all but eradicated during the post-WWII period, when the communist government banned all religions for fifty years. Still, countless monuments and beautiful sights remained that testify to this multi-layered history, in cities like Gjirokastra, Berat, Shkodra, Vlora, Tirana etc.
As you visit many of its ancient cities and its medieval fortified towns, you may run across rare sights of mosques, monasteries, and churches, at times sitting side by side. Many churches were transformed into mosques during the Ottoman Empire, making these objects all the more fascinating in the rich historical baggage they contain. One particular church in the town of Laç is a national favorite as it is equally visited by believers or non-believers. Indeed, in Albania, these places of worship provide a spiritual have for all!
Already a landmark in the heart of the capital, this grandiose construction is one of many that were built with the return of the religious pluralism in Albania. Located in the heart of the capital, south-west of Skanderbeg Square, the recently-constructed cathedral has quickly gained the status of tourist attraction. Construction was completed in June [...]
One of the best exemplars of Byzantine architecture in Albania hides several beautiful frescoes inside its walls. Holy Trinity Church is one of the oldest churches in Berat. Easily accessible, the church is located in the historic Mangalem neighborhood in Berat, on the southern side of the Berat Castle. Because of the steep terrain in [...]
Formerly a monastery and pilgrimage center, today the Forty Saints Monastery is a fairly popular tourist destination, though it is partly shattered from time and negligence. The ruins of this 6th century Byzantine monastery lie across from the bay where Lëkurësi Castle stands. Overlooking Saranda, this monastery is a significant object of history and tradition [...]
Built atop a hill and surrounded by the ancient ruins of the Archaeological Park of Apollonia, the expansive plains of Myzeqe and the Adriatic Sea, the medieval monastic complex of St. Mary is one of the most memorable and visually breathtaking sites in the country. Here, we leave behind the polytheist world of ancient Apollonia [...]
Located 237 meters above sea level and only a 20-minute drive from Fier are the Ardenica hills, famous for the Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos and many breathtaking landscapes. A pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis had existed where the Monastery sits now, which explains the origin of the name Ardenica. Covering [...]
Albania’s history with religion is complex, rendering the country a haven of religious tolerance as much as a place of general religious confusion and instability. Many religions co-exist in the country, something that is especially noticeable after the fall of communism. Religion was banned during the latter and many holy places either became nonfunctional or [...]
If we know anything about the history of the world’s many religions it is that a higher experience and spiritual wisdom are often acquired in the highest heights. Whether you are a believer in Buddhism, Christianity, Muslimism, in any of the other countless religions or none at all, you know that high peak has revelatory [...]