7 Reasons to Visit Vau i Dejës - Into Albania

7 Reasons to Visit Vau i Dejës

Vau i Dejës has it all, the calming lake panoramas, that idyllic bucolic landscape of another time, fascinating culture, history, and places of worship as well as contemporary and delicious restaurants.  

1. History

The ancient city of Vau i Dejës, once called Deja or Danja, was founded around the 11th century. The ruins of this once very developed region can be witnessed to this day, with the remnants of the 14th century Danja Castle being particularly interesting. Situated on a cliff, 120 meters above sea level, the castle was strategically synchronized to the fortifications of the Shkodra and Drin valleys. It once served as the best location from which Zadrima valley, as well as the streets of Shkodra and Lezha, could be monitored.

Danja Castle, photo by the Municipality of Vau i Dejës.

2. Lake

Vau i Dejës Lake is another great reason to plan a weekend getaway here. Created in 1971 from the Drin reservoir, the lake stretches along mountain gorges and spectacular nature, making your surroundings here truly poetic. This lake, with a surface of 24.7 km and depth of 52 meters, also includes the Vau i Dejës hydroelectric plant. Fishing, boating, or simply bathing in the waters of the lake are some of the many refreshing activities you can enjoy here.

Vau i Dejës Lake, photo by IntoAlbania.

3. Hotels & Restaurants

The food and accommodation here is harmoniously adapted to the landscape and serves as the perfect complement to an otherwise idyllic place. In the restaurants, you can find traditional or contemporary cuisine as well as plenty of meat-based or seafood dishes that are always fresh and delicious. In fact, the restaurants are one of the area’s biggest attractions. Likewise, accommodation is casual, comfortable and very well-suited to its gorgeous surroundings.

Dea Touristic Complex, Vau i Dejës, photo by IntoAlbania.

Bar Restaurant Perla,Vau i Dejës, photo by IntoAlbania.

4. Food

This region’s cuisine has historically been one of the best things about Vau i Dejës. The traditional menus in many of the restaurants here include beef liver baked in tile, oven-baked fresh catch, like carp,  lakror (a phyllo-based, savory traditional Albanian pie stuffed with a variety of meats and vegetables), traditional chicken and stuffing, or tava e dheut (an authentically prepared type of fërgesë).

Mullari at Vau i Dejës, photo by IntoAlbania.

5. Sarda (Shurdhah) Island

In addition to Danja Castle, there are plenty of other historical and archaeological sites worth visiting in this area.  The ruins of the Shurdhah Castle are some of the most impressive, found in an island created in the lake as a result of the dam’s construction. Once upon a time, the medieval city of Sarda was situated there, and served as a meeting point of the distinct cultures of Malësia (i.e. Highlands), Zadrima, and Mirdita. Click here for more.

Sarda ruins, photo by IntoAlbania.

If you would like to see more castles around Vau i Dejës, you can also visit that of Vigu, one of the most famous Roman military castles in Albania.

6. Ruins of the Castle and Sapas Bishopry

The city of Sapa was erected on Mount St. Michael as far back as 950 years, a city which included the fortified diocese known as Sapa Castle. If you visit Nënshat Village, situated in the Hajmel commune, you will have the chance to witness these ruins. They testify to the long history of Sapa, which was unfortunately burnt down and destroyed by the Tartar attack of the 13th century.

Ruins of the Sapas Bishopry. Photo by the Municipality of Vau i Dejës.

The ruins of the Sapas Bishopry are only a 20-minute-drive away from the actual Sapa diocese, which is also found in the city of Vau i Dejës.

Sapa Bishopry or the Mother Teresa Cathedral at Vau i Dejës. Photo by IntoAlbania.

7. Other Places of Worship

The Church of St. Mary hides a very sad story. Built at the foot of Deja Mountain around 1300, this was one of the oldest churches in the country. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed in 1969 during the strictly anti-religious Communist period in the country. Still, its ruins are well-worth visiting.

The old St. Mary Church at Vau i Dejës, photo by the Municipality of Vau i Dejës.

The new St. Mary Church at Vau i Dejës, photo by IntoAlbania.

Countless places of worship are scattered around Vau i Dejës. Another first category monument of culture is the Church of St. Mark, mentioned as early as 1400. Legend has it that it was built to celebrate Skanderbeg’s victory over the Venetians.

Other recommendations:

While at Vau i Dejës, you may visit also Qëndistari “Zyberaj”, that offers a unique experience into the area’s rich cultural tradition.

Traditional costume at Qëndistari “Zyberaj”, photo by IntoAlbania.

Traditional works at Qëndistari “Zyberaj”, photo by IntoAlbania.

If you want to visit Sarda Island, contact Sarda Tours on facebook, or call them at: 068 880 0230.

By: IntoAlbania

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