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The sheer variety and quality of museums in some Albanian cities are some of the reason that made the ones below popular touristic destinations for 2019.
While a major part of Albania’s appeal rests on its spectacular landscape, many are the visitors to the country who devote a considerable time and attention to its museums. In 2019, more than one million tourists visited the museums, national parks and castles of Albania. One third of this number visited only museums! According to official governmental sources, below are the main cities to visit for their museums. The list may be a good one to keep in mind as you make your 2020 travel plans!
The small city of Kruja beat Albania’s capital for first place in this coveted list. With its legendary National Museum of “Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeu,” known simply as the Skanderbeg Museum, Kruja remains the uncontested leader in the museum category. The museum’s comprehensive information and well-designed exhibit halls tell the entire story of Albania’s national hero, Skanderbeg. Beautifully interweaved with the ruins of the medieval castle, the museum is also one of the country’s most valued architectural objects. The National Ethnographic Museum, situated right next to it, is also an ideal place to learn about the lifestyle and culture of this region, the epicenter of Albanian patriotism.
Albania’s capital is the most vibrant city in the nation with the highest number of visitors per year. For its extensive and rich variety of museums, Tirana gets second place in this category. In 2019, the most visited museums in the capital were the National Historical Museum and the House of Leaves Museum. The former is the museum with the largest historical collection in the country of more than five thousand objects, exhibited in five pavilions. The House of Leaves Museum offers a fascinating look at the history of the country’s State Security during the Communist era, a history that was kept hidden from the people at the time.
With the Onufri National Iconographic Museum, the first museum in Albania to have a comprehensive, quadruple-language audio-guide system, Berat comes third on the list. The Iconographic Museum, located within the Berat Castle, houses the stunning works of Albania’s master of iconography, Onufri, and remains the most popular among tourists. Berat’s characteristic, well-preserved architecture has placed it in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The Ethnographic Museum of Berat, with its fascinating depiction of the traditions of this important city, is one of the best places to become acquainted with the city’s story.
The ancient city of Durrës and, especially its Archaeological Museum, the largest one in the country, draws a great number of visitors, both local and international. A walk through the museum’s various pavilions informs the visitors on the development of the city’s culture, ethnography and the lifestyles of the inhabitants. With a beautiful view of the sea and full of interesting historical artefacts, the museum is a must-see! In 2019, the city welcomed approximately 20,000 visitors of which nearly 14,000 were international tourists.
The amazing Marubi National Photography Museum had to be part of this list. Located in the artistic northern city of Shkodra, the museum attracts many art lovers and history buffs with its rare collection of photography. The collection of nearly 400,000 photographs documents Albania’s life and history from 1850 to the present. It actually includes the first-ever photograph taken of Albania, captured in 1858. The museum is the largest in the country that is devoted solely to photography!
Korça concludes the list with its three most visited museums. First is the National Museum of Medieval Art, which houses more than 7,000 works of art and icons, as well as wood, stone, metal, and textile works that depict an entire history of Albanian iconography. Korça also has the very first secular school in the country, opened in 1887, now located along the city’s main promenade as the Museum of the First Albanian School (Mësonjtorja). Lastly, Korça’s Archaeological Museum draws a high number of visitors, as well, with a wonderful collection of historical objects. A visit to these three museums gives the visitor a taste of the city’s rich and long history.
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