Albania: “Step into history”

Old City Gjirokastra

The city of Gjirokastra is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the most attractive tourist sites of the country. Perched on the eastern side of the Wide Mountain (Mali i Gjërë), the city began as a fourth century castle, which is today the greatest castle in the whole country. Inside the fortress is the Museum of Weapons, where weapons of different periods up until the Second World War are displayed. Gjirokastra is known as “The City of Stone”

Old City Gjirokastra
The old bazaar


Fortress of Gjirokastra

The museum city of Gjirokastra was built on the eastern side of “Mali i Gjerë”. Since 2005, it has been in UNESCO World Heritage site. The origin of the city starts with the castle of Gjirokastra, built in IV century AD. The main characteristic of Gjirokastra is the intensive use of stone in building the houses, which look like small fortresses, the streets of cobblestone, which all lead to Bazaar. Due to all these features, Gjirokastra is also known as the “The Stone City”.

The most important structure of the city is the castle, which is the biggest castle in Albania. You can also visit the house of Zekati family in Palorto, in a dominating position, which has undergone restoration. It is one of the most magnificent and characteristic buildings of Gjirokastra. Built in 1811-1812, it is a magnificent three-floor building and has two twin towers.

2. Butint – The Microcosmos of Mediterranean

butrint 5.jpg

Butrint mosaic


The first Albanian site to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage was Butrint, in the south of the country, in 1992. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was a part of the Greek and Roman colonies.

The most ancient objects found at the archeological site in Butrint are a stone hammer and a shaft belonging to the second half of the second millennium B.C.

Hekateus made first mention of the city at the end of the sixth century B.C., affirming that the city was built according to Troy and that the origin of the name refers to the sacrifice of a bull, Buthrotos, provided by the Trojan prince Aeneas on his way to Dodona. During its early period, Butrint was the center of the Kaonic tribes, later to become part of the kingdom of Epirus.

The most extraordinary objects discovered in the theater of Butrint are the statue of Apollo, the goddess of Butrint, the marble heads of Zeus, the portrait of Agrippina, the head of Livia and many Latin and Greek epigraphs. Parts of the city were rebuilt during the fifth century B.C.

3. Apollonia – Where Roman emperor Augustus study philosophy



Apollonia was an ancient Greek colony city and former bishopric in Illyria , located on the right bank of the Aous river (modern-day Vjosa). Its ruins are situated in the Fier region, near the village of Pojani (Polina), in modern-day Albania.
The ancient city of Apollonia is situated in southwestern Albania, about 13 miles from the city of Fier.

The fascinating landscape of the archeological park, which has been preserved in an exceptionally intact condition, comprises a successful combination between the beauty of monuments and nature, attractive through its long history, in an atmosphere of relaxation and meditation. Its foundation took place immediately after the foundation of Epidamnus – Dyrrachium and quickly became one of the most eminent cities of the Adriatic basin, which was mentioned more frequently from the other 30 (thirty) cities bearing the same name during Antiquity.

The city lay in the territory of the political communion of the Taulantii and was broadly known as Apollonia of Illyria. According to the tradition it was founded during the first half of the 6th century BC by Greek colonist from Corfu and Corinth, led by Gylax, which named the city after his name (Gylakeia). After its quick establishment the city changed its name to Apollonia, according to the powerful divinity Apollo. It stands on a hilly plateau from where expands the fertile plain of Musacchia with the Adriatic Sea and the hills of Mallakastra. The ruins of Apollonia are discovered in the beginning of the 19th century.

This archaeologic park or site contain also a Museum of Archaeology that is situated at the old Monastery of Saint Mary .

4. Berat – 2400 year old museum city


Berat Old City

This 2,413 years-old city, the pride of Albanian architecture which is under the protection of UNESCO, is located 120 km from Tirana. The city forms a wonderful combination of eastern and western cultures, costumes, traditions and outlook. Berat is a treasure-trove of Albanian history, culture and a testament to the country’s tradition of religious harmony.

The city’s life began in the 6th-5th century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the 3rd century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. The castle expanded afterwards, particularly during the feudal dominion of the Muzakaj family. Inside the castle, they built churches with valuable frescoes and icons, and also a calligraphy school. Uniquely today, residents still live inside of the castle walls. The three major neighborhoods of the old city are Mangalemi, Gorica, and Kala, where the castle itself is located.

5. Kruja – The City of Scanderbeg

Kruja Castle

KRUJA The Old Bazaar

Kruja is just 32km away from Tirana and very close to Tirana International Airport. This historic city is 608m above sea level and offers an open vista to an amazing panoramic view.

The name and the importance of the city are closely related to the 25 years of activity of our national hero, Skanderbeg, who in the fifteenth century made Kruja a bastion of uncompromising resistance against the Ottoman. The Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg Museum is situated inside the castle walls, which date back to the fifth and sixth centuries A.D.

The museum itself was inaugurated in 1981. Within the walls of the castle are also the Ethnographic Museum and the Dollma Tekke. Near the castle’s entrance is a traditional market, which dates back to the period of Skanderbeg. Here, tourists can find Albanian craft products such as embroidered items, carpeting, silver objects, copper, alabaster, filigree, traditional clothing, antiques at the traditional Old Baazar of Kruja .

6. Shkodra – Gateway to the Albanian Alps

Shkodra, it is one of the oldest cities in the country, founded in the 4th century B.C. as the center of the Labeat tribe of Illyrians known with the name Scodra .
Shkodra has been occupied several times throughout history: First by the Romans (168 B.C.), then the Serbians (1040), the Venetians (1396), and finally by the Ottomans (1479).

The city returned to Albanian control as the feudal principality of the Balshaj during the 14th century and served as the municipal center of the Bushatllinj Pashallëk from 1757 to 1831. Shkodra is very rich in cultural heritage , the city itself as well as the people bear pride in the large number of artists, musicians, painters, photographers, poets, and writers born here. Shkodra’s main tourist attraction is Rozafa Castle. Rising majestically upon a rocky hill west of the city, the outcroppings and battlements paint a blazing picture against the setting sun.

Shkodra is one of the most important cities of Albania and is also known to be the center of Albanian Catholicism , Culture and Harmony between different religions .

The lake of Shkodra is also suggested to visit , to bath , or to eat some of the best dishes of Albanian cuisine like Krap ne tave typical for this region .

3 lakes, view from castle

Castle of Shkodra

Shkodra Pedonale

7. Tirana – The lively capital

We all can say convinced that the capital of Albania has transformed into a lively, affordable destination. And I might add, that every foreigner I have met there has falled in love with the city.

Interest in Balkan countries has soared significantly in recent years, with curious travelers now regularly seeking out the serenity of the Adriatic Sea and medieval, stone-walled cities like Dubrovnik in Croatia and Kotor in Montenegro.

Tirana does not embody such traditional allure. Instead, it impresses as a soulful, urban hub with a strong personality shaped by a turbulent history.

Much like Sarajevo remarkably moved past the atrocities of the 1990s to evolve into a thriving Eastern European capital, Albania is looking past its own decades of horror and isolation to the future.
This is only the main cultural scene of Albania. Many more to come on beaches and entertainment on future blogs. 


33 thoughts on “Albania: “Step into history””

  1. Wanderlust Vlog

    It’s not really a destination I would think of, but looking at those pictures I can see why it is becoming increasingly popular for tourists! Love those leftovers of the Greek and Roman colonies!!

  2. I have a friend who went to Albania and that’s when I thought about this country as a travel destination. To be honest though, I’m glad I scrolled on after item #1. Very few modern cities can convey to me something that identifies the nation’s unique ways to me. But #2 onwards changed my mind – yes, I would visit the people who have lived in these geographies and bear the culture from that accumulated history.

    1. Ah, ok you Just gave me a great tip. I’m always the first who says that our capital, Tirana, has not much to offer. You think I should dignity it with #1? Lol. I think I’ll edit that. Thank you 😘

      1. Haha I dunno. That’s just me. I know people who would go places for nightlife #1, and only then maaaybe interested in other things. It’s just that Albania is very far for me. It’s got to be something unique that makes me go far away, and bars/ clubbing is basically the same anywhere.

        1. Hehe that’s true, but wait I haven’t started with the beaches yet… And most of them are close to the cultural places and ancient ruins 🙈🙈

  3. followingtherivera

    Aww really lovely post with great photos too! I never thought about seeing Albania but now I’ve changed my mind.

  4. Really amazing insights into perhaps one of the least known countries in Europe. The photographs are amazing and the list is quite useful for any visitor.

  5. This photos alone breath life to Albania. I have never read a post about Albania and this being the first one I am more than impressed. If anything looks like it’s earned a spot in my bucket list!

  6. I love the off-the-beaten-path places, and have actually wanted to visit Albania and neighboring countries. I could see myself relaxing in Berat. The country looks like a place you could really absorb the culture.

  7. The Trip Wishlist

    I love off-the-beaten-path places, and really want to visit Albania and neighboring countries. It looks so charming with beautiful architecture. Berat looks like a place I could relax in!

  8. The Trip Wishlist

    I love off-the-beaten-path places, and really want to visit Albania and neighboring countries. It looks so charming with beautiful architecture. Berat looks like a place I could relax in!

  9. Wow! I had no idea Albania was so beautiful! I’ll definitely be adding this location to my future travel destinations!

  10. Thats very wonderful attractions inlcuding the natural ones and man made attraction at large, appreciate that but i have some suggestions that not only there in europe but also to other places there lots of attracting , scenic and beautifull places that people either forced to go see the attractions or willingly to go too, therefore appreciate your concern to me and your welcomed tanzania and invest here too, am currently completing my college as a proffesional guide or wildlife ranger but i preffer tourism humphrey from africa tanzania.

  11. Pingback: Tirana, Above or Below Expectations? - Libra Travel Blog

  12. Pingback: Ultimate Beach Holiday in Albania - Libra Travel Blog

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