Spiritual Places - Into Albania

Spiritual Places

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!

By: IntoAlbania

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Borsh Castle: One of the...

Saranda

A much-desired object by Albania’s many occupiers throughout the ages, the ancient Borsh Castle, which also hosts the only mosque of the Riviera, will give you the chance to enjoy stunning panoramas as you immerse yourself in its rich history.  Of all the gorgeous villages of the Ionian coast, Borsh claims the longest coastline. Surrounded [...]

Borsh Castle: One of the...

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Himara Castle: The Fortified City...

Vlora

Though the picturesque village on the Ionian Coast is best known as a beach destination, it hides within it the old town of Himara, a beautiful medieval fortress built on a hill. Nestled between the spectacular Ionian in the west and a mountain range on the eastern side, the old town of Himara resembles an [...]

Himara Castle: The Fortified City...

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Shkodra’s Incredible Religious Harmony

Shkodra

An astoundingly high number of religious monuments honoring disparate faiths are scattered around the beautiful northern city of Shkodra, testifying to the rare religious harmony of the region. Of Albania’s peculiar and tragic history, filled with wars, invasions, dictatorships and civil unrest, a few very positive things have come out. One of these is the [...]

Shkodra’s Incredible Religious Harmony

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St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Shkodra

Shkodra

One of the grandest in the Balkans, the Cathedral of Shkodra has had an extraordinary story of survival.   The Cathedral of St. Stephen, the patron saint of the city of Shkodra, is also known as the Great Church. Once upon a time, the cathedral was located within the walls of the Rozafa Castle. In [...]

St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Shkodra

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Et’hem Bey Mosque

Tirana

One of the capital’s oldest and most historic monuments, this mosque has also become one of its most visited attractions. The construction of Et’hem Bey Mosque dates back to the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th. The construction, which took more than 35 years to complete, was started by Mulla Bey [...]

Et’hem Bey Mosque

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Santa Lucia Catholic Church

Durrës

Fairly simple in appearance and intimate in size, this modest church with a particularly warm atmosphere boasts the most loyal following in the entire city of Durrës. Built in 1909, it has only been a few years since the Santa Lucia Catholic Church (Kisha “Shën Luçia”) has undergone a restoration of its original construction. Situated [...]

Santa Lucia Catholic Church

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Fatih Mosque: A Well-Preserved Late...

Durrës

One of the oldest mosques in Albania, Fatih Mosque is also known as the old mosque or the small mosque, in order to be distinguished from the Great Mosque of Durrës. If you find yourself in Durrës, you simply must visit Fatih Mosque, a small but gorgeous mosque located in the heart of the ancient [...]

Fatih Mosque: A Well-Preserved Late...

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Great Mosque of Durrës

Durrës

The largest mosque in the city, the Great Mosque of Durrës was once transformed into a youth center and restaurant before returning to its original function as a religious institution. 1938 marked the inauguration of the Great Mosque in Durrës. At the time, aside from the mosques in Turkey, this was the largest mosque in [...]

Great Mosque of Durrës

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Marmiroi Church

Vlora

Most famous for its spectacular beaches, Albania’s Southern Riviera reserves a very particular church hidden away in this beautiful landscape that is well-worth exploring. Scattered all around the country, high in the mountains or nestled by the sea, are incredible historical monuments, churches and archeological settlements of antiquity. Some of them are easier to locate [...]

Marmiroi Church

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Zvërnec Island

Vlora

Covered in pines, this small gorgeous island off the coast of Vlora can be reached by walking along a 270- meter-long bridge, offering the visitor a one-of-a-kind experience with nature. Sitting at 30 meters above sea level, this picturesque island is named after the village of the same name, located about 13 km from the [...]

Zvërnec Island

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Voskopoja

Korça

Nature meets art and history in Voskopoja, making it a favorite destination for tourists year-round. The town of Voskopoja is renowned for having been a cultural center since 1330 and, over the centuries, more than 24 churches were built there. The city hosted the first printing press outside Istanbul along other important institutions, such as [...]

Voskopoja

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Lead Mosque

Shkodra

Right beneath the Rozafa Castle in Shkodra, surrounded by vast green valleys, rests one of the most majestic and well-preserved mosques in the country.   All the religious monuments scattered throughout the cities of Albania represent the famously harmonious coexistence of religions in the country. One such monument is the Lead Mosque in Shkodra, the [...]

Lead Mosque

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Medieval Center of Berat

Berat

One of Berat’s main Ottoman-era attractions, this large complex includes a beautiful mosque, an ornate tekke, and stunning wood-carved balconies – a reminder of this area’s important central location in the past. Berat is one of the most historically and culturally significant cities in southeastern Albania. The Medieval Centre of Berat is a great representation [...]

Medieval Center of Berat

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Holy Trinity Church in Berat

Berat

One of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in Albania, this small yet eye-catching 14th-century church  hides several beautiful frescoes inside its historic 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 [...]

Holy Trinity Church in Berat

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Forty Saints Monastery in Saranda

Saranda

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 [...]

Forty Saints Monastery in Saranda

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St. Mary Church and Monastery...

Fier

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 [...]

St. Mary Church and Monastery...

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Tombs of Selca

Korça

These majestic 3rd century Illyrian tombs, once located in the ancient city of Pelion near modern-day Pogradec, are a beautiful monument of the country’s ancient history. The Illyrian tombs of Selca were discovered fairly recently. It was specifically during last century’s archaeological excavations, in the period of 1964-1972, in the area of Pogradec known as [...]

Tombs of Selca

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Ardenica: The Beautiful Hills and...

Fier

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 [...]

Ardenica: The Beautiful Hills and...

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St. Paul’s Cathedral in Tirana

Tirana

Located just off of the main boulevard in the nation’s capital, and open to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, St. Paul’s Cathedral offers a nice site to rest, enjoy mass, or even on occasion, see a concert. St. Paul’s Cathedral has quickly become a reference point for the entire Catholic population of the capital, and [...]

St. Paul’s Cathedral in Tirana

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St. Nicholas (Mesopotam) Monastery

Saranda

In the south of the Mesopotam village in the outskirts of Saranda, very close to the ancient city of Finiq (Phoenice), you can visit one of the world’s pearls of Byzantine architecture. One of the oldest and largest churches of the Byzantine era, St. Nicholas Monastery (Manastiri i Shën Kollit), also known as the Monastery [...]

St. Nicholas (Mesopotam) Monastery

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The Resurrection of Christ Orthodox...

Tirana

Already a landmark in the heart of the capital, this grandiose Orthodox cathedral stands as one of many that were built with the return of religious pluralism in Albania. Located in the heart of the capital, south-west of Skanderbeg Square, the recently-constructed cathedral has rapidly gained notoriety as a tourist attraction. Construction finished in June of [...]

The Resurrection of Christ Orthodox...

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Bektashi World Centre

Tirana

The Bektashi World Centre is a religious complex and is the recognised home of the Bektashi order, who welcome visitors to explore their simple, yet beautiful, architectural spaces. The Bektashi World Centre (also referred to as the Bektashi Order Headquarters) is located in the northeast area of the capital, approximately 1 km east of the [...]

Bektashi World Centre

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Ardenica Monastery

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 [...]

Ardenica Monastery

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Saint Anthony Church of Laç

Lezha

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 [...]

Saint Anthony Church of Laç

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A Blessed Pilgrimage with a...

Kruja

Sarisalltik is one of the most significant religious places in Albania. For the adventurous souls willing to take on the hike, the pilgrimage in Sarisalltik is a truly transformative experience, which will remain with you for a lifetime! If we know anything about the history of the world’s many religions, it is that a higher [...]

A Blessed Pilgrimage with a...

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