Two Capitals of Albania
Kruja was the first capital of Albania, where the medieval national hero, Skanderbeg, started his resistance against the Ottoman Turks. His fortress, located on the mountainside (600 m above sea level), provided him with a great opportunity to observe the terrain. From the courtyard of the castle, you can admire the landscape reaching to the Adriatic Sea, including Tirana, Durrës, and on a clear day you can also see Albania’s northern neighbor, Montenegro. Kruja still has a famous old bazaar where you can buy the best souvenirs including local handicrafts.
Tirana is the current capital of Albania, a rapidly developing modern metropolis. In this city, the mixing architectural styles show the influence of Albania’s past occupiers. The streets are made up of Turkish buildings, Italian architecture from the 1920s, buildings from Albania’s communist period (including the famous pyramid and iconic Hoxha bunkers), and modern skyscrapers.
We will start exploring the current capital together in the morning, so that when the heat starts, we will move to the mountain climate in Kruja.
In Tirana, walking along the main boulevard, you will learn about the history of communist Albania, and the current political situation of the country. We will visit the Blloku district, with Enver Hoxha’s house at its heart. Once only available to communist dignitaries, today Blloku is a fashionable place on the entertainment map of the capital.
We will end our tour of Tirana in the main square, Skanderbeg Square, where we will visit the Bunk’art 2 Museum, which is organized in a fallout shelter. You will have free time in a popular point of the city in the vicinity of the Kalaja e Tiranës (Tirana Castle). The area is an atmospheric promenade, full of trees, and cafes. Those who want to explore the capital on their own will be able to visit the beautifully restored Et’hem Bej Mosque in the immediate vicinity, go shopping at the renovated Pazari i Ri Bazaar, or visit the National Stadium.
In the afternoon we will drive to Kruja, and the guide will outline the history of ancient and medieval Albania. You will find out who the Illyrians were, and learn about the most famous Albanian historical figure, Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu-Skanderbeg.
Getting to know the culture and traditions of Albania would not be complete without tasting the dishes characteristic of the region. So, we will sit together in the castle garden, surrounded by mountains and the greenery of old trees. We will serve dishes such as: grilled qofte with baked potatoes, and fërgesë me mish cooked in a clay pot, which should be eaten with homemade bread. After lunch, there will be free time to buy unique souvenirs from Albania. Woolen socks, fancy dishes made of olive wood, or colorful kilims decorate the entire shopping street. It is also worth paying attention to the filigree – intricately made jewelry.
This is a cultural and historical tour where you will learn the most about Albania.