7 Reasons to Visit Vau i Dejës - Into Albania

7 Reasons to Visit Vau i Dejës

Vau i Dejës has just about everything, calming lake panoramas, idyllic bucolic landscapes reminiscent of another time, fascinating culture, history, places of worship as well as contemporary and delicious food.

1.Rich 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 marvelled at to this day, with the remnants of the 14th century Danja Castle being a strong point of interest. Situated on a cliff, 120 meters above sea level, the castle was strategically synchronised with the fortifications of the Shkodra and Drin valleys. It once served as the best lookout location from which the 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. A Stunning Lake

Vau i Dejës Lake is just another reason to plan a weekend getaway here. Formed in 1971 from the Drin reservoir, the lake stretches along mountain gorges and breath-taking nature, making the surroundings truly poetic. The lake boasts a surface space of 24.7km and a depth of 52 metres, it also includes the Vau i Dejës hydroelectric plant. Go fishing, venture out on a boat, or simply bathe in the waters of the lake. These are just some of the refreshing and relaxing activities to be enjoyed at the Vau i Dejës lake.

Vau i Dejës Lake, photo by IntoAlbania.

3. Superb Restaurants & Comfy Accommodation

The food and accommodation here are harmoniously adapted to the landscape and serves as the perfect complement to such an idyllic place. Restaurants offer 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. 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 That Complements the Surroundings

The region’s cuisine has historically been one of the top things about Vau i Dejës. The traditional-style menus in many of the restaurants here include baked beef liver, oven-baked fresh carp and traditional chicken and stuffing. There are also local dishes to savour such as tava e dheut, which is an authentically prepared type of fërgesë. Or how about lakror, a phyllo-based, savoury traditional Albanian pie stuffed with a variety of meats and vegetables.

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 on an island that was formed in the lake as a result of the dam’s construction. The medieval city of Sarda was once situated there, and served as a meeting point for the distinct cultures of Malësia (i.e. Highlands), Zadrima, and Mirdita. Click here for more.

Sarda ruins, photo by IntoAlbania.

Want 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 ago. A city which included the fortified diocese known as Sapa Castle. If you visit Nënshat Village, situated in the Hajmel commune, you’ll 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. Tragically, 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 in writings as early as 1400. Legend has it that it was built to celebrate Skanderbeg’s victory over the Venetians.

Other recommendations:

Whilst at Vau i Dejës, you may want to visit Qëndistari “Zyberaj”, it offers a unique experience into the area’s rich cultural traditions.

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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