TIRANA the capital of Albania
Tirana, the capital of Albania, is known for its colorful Ottoman-, Fascist- and Soviet-era architecture. Pastel buildings surround the city’s focal point, Skanderbeg Square, which is named for its equestrian statue of a national hero. On the square’s north end is the modernist National History Museum, covering prehistoric times through Communist rule and the anti-Communist uprisings of the 1990s.
Nearby, the 1820s Clock Tower is a symbol of the city. It overlooks the Ottoman-era Et’hem Bey Mosque, known for its landscape mosaics. To the south is the National Arts Gallery, showcasing works by Albanians, and a mostly abandoned Pyramid monument from the Communist period that’s served as an exhibition hall and nightclub. The Pyramid borders Blloku, a neighborhood once off-limits to all but Communist Party members, which is now a hip destination for nightlife and people-watching. A cable-car ride to the summit of Mount Dajti affords panoramic city views.
Tirana was established in 1614 from Sulejman Pasha from the village of Mullet. Firstly, he constructed a mosque, a bakery and a Turkish Sauna. Two centuries later, the direction of the city went to the family of Toptani, from Kruja. The two oldest neighborhoods of Tirana were that of Mujos and that of Pazari, situated between the actual center and “Elbasani“ street, in the two sides of Lana.
Three hypothesis for the origins of Tirana name
- “Tirana “, it is thought that comes from the word “ Theranda”, mentioned in the ancient Greek and Latin sources, that aborigines called Te Ranat, because the field was formed as a result of stiff materials that the waters from the surrounding mountains brought.
- “Tirana“ comes from “Tirkan“. Tirkan was a castle in Dajti‘s mountainside. Even nowadays, there exist the ruins of this ancient castle that dates with the beginning of the I-century B.C. This is thought to have been the castle that the Byzantium historian Prokop (VI-century) called the Castle of Tirkan.
- “Tirana“ comes from old Greek, “Tyros” which means dairy. It is thought that this variant remained, because in the field of Tirana, the shepherds of the nearby areas used to trade dairy products.
For the first time Tirana’s name in the nowadays form was mentioned in 1418 in a Venetian document.
For the first time the registration of lands was done under the ottoman invasion in 1431-1432. Tirana had 60 inhabited areas with near 1000 houses and 7300 inhabitants. In the XV -century as Marin Barleti mentions, there was Tirana e Madhe and Tirana e Vogël (Big and Small Tirana).
In the registrations of 1583, the area of Tirana resulted to have 110 inhabited areas, 2900 houses and 20,000 inhabitants.
In 1703 Tirana had 4000 inhabitants.
In 1769 Tirana ‘s area exported 2600 barrels of olive oil and 14.000 stuffed packages of tobacco to Venetian trades.
In 1820 Tirana had 12.000 inhabitants.
In 1901 Tirana had 15.000 inhabitants.
At the beginning of the XX – century Tirana had 140.000 olive trees, 400 oil mills, while the market numbered 700 shops.
In 1838 Tirana had 38.000 inhabitants.
In 1945 it had 60.000 inhabitants. The mosque in the center of Tirana, called the mosque of Ethem Beu began its construction in 1789 by Molla Beu from Petrela. The mosque was finished in 1821 from Molla Beu‘s son, Sulejman Pasha‘s grandnephew. The best masters of Albania worked for it. Haxhi Et’hem Beu started the Clock’s Tower around 1821-1822 and it was finished with the help of the richest families of Tirana. The family of Tufina made the restoration of the Clock. In 1928 the Albanian state bought in Germany a modern clock and the Tower was raised in the height of 35 m. During the World War II, the Clock was damaged, but it restarted work in July 1946.
The Orthodox Church of Saint Prokop was built in 1780.
The Catholic Church of Saint Maria was constructed in 1865 with the Austrian-Hungarian expenses of the Emperor, Franc Josef. Bridge of Tabakëve and bridge of Terzive (actually the bridge of the “Elbasani” Street) date with the beginning of the XIX century. Kapllan Hysa‘s mosque (near to the monument “Ushtari I Panjohur “ (The Unknown soldier) was constructed in 1816.
The Library was established in 1922 and had 5000 volumes.
The Fortress of Petrela, 12 km far from Tirana, dates IV century BC. It took the actual form in the XIII century, under the rule of Topiaj and later passed to the property of Kastriots.
Tirana become the temporary capital on 8 February appointed by the Congress of Lushnja and finally took this status on December 31, 1925.
Tirana is the world main center of bektashis from 1925, a year when the bektashis were stopped and expulsed by Turkey.
Estef Frashëri compiled the first regulatory plan of the city in 1923. “Durrësi“ Street was opened in 1922 and was called “Nana Mbretneshë “(Queen Mother). A lot of houses and yards were demolished for its construction. The existing Parliamentary building was raised 1924 and firstly, it served as a Club of Officers. There, on September 1928, Ahmet Zogu proclaimed the Monarchy.
The center of Tirana is projected by well-known Italian architects of Mussolini period, Florestano de Fausto and Armando Brasini.
Their works are the Palace of Brigades (the ex-Reigning palace), the ministries buildings, the National Bank and the Municipality.
“Dëshmoret e Kombit “ (Martyrs of the Nation) boulevard was constructed in 1930 with the name “Zogu I“ boulevard. In the communism period, the part from “Skanderbeg“ square up to the Train Station was named “Stalin“ boulevard.
The Palace of Culture where the Theatre of Operas and Ballet and the National Library stand was finished in 1963. It was raised on the ex-old Trade of Tirana and the ex- soviet president Nikita Hrushov put on the first brick in 1959.
The monument of Skanderbeg built in 1968 is a work of Odhise Paskali in collaboration with Andrea Mana and Janaq Paço. It was placed there for the occasion of the 500-th anniversary of the death of our national hero.
The monument “Mother Theresa”, 12 m high was inaugurated in the cemetery “Dëshmoret e Kombit “ in 1971.
The Academy of Sciences was finished on April 1972.
The Gallery of Figurative Arts was created in 1976 and it includes around 3200 works of Albanian and foreign authors.
The National Historic Museum was built in 1981 and the ornament on its frontal part is called “Albania“.
The International Cultural Center, the ex- museum “Enver Hoxha“ was inaugurated in 1988. “The Pyramid“ was projected by a group of architects under the direction of Pranvera Hoxha and Klement Kolaneci.
In 1990 Tirana had 250.000 inhabitants. Actually, the massive overrun of inhabitants from all the other parts of the country in the capital has increased the population of Tirana to over 700.000 inhabitants.
In 2000 the center of Tirana, from the Central University Corpus and up to the “Skanderbeg“ square was declared as Cultural Assemble with particular values under the state ‘s protection, that same year in this area began a restoring process named “Return to Identity.”
Today the center of Tirana is still under construction, according to the new project which will exchange the city into a modern European square.
The castle of Tirana
Kalaja (The Fortress) of Tirana was a road station of the line Egnatia of the type Mansio-Mutatio. It composed the center of inhabitation with a variety of names since the first centuries of our era.
Tirkan (in 4-th century of our era), Tergiana (in 1927) when in it was placed the chancellery of its ruler Karli I Anzhu and in today’s form according to Barleti, Tyranna (1505). This type is not still completed.
But, the fortress, the ancient testimony of the city is right in the place where the two streets, the old and the new one crossed and which linked the capital and then all Albania, north with south, east with west.
A castle of a fortress dominated each of the old ways before you entered to Tirana.
The castle of Lalmi
2-th century of our era in the hill where Erzen River took the turn and permitted the road passage toward Petrela.
The castle of Tujan
where life traces are encountered since the first period of iron is a stony fortification in a quadrangle shape. Reconstructed in the 4-th century of our era it was the entrance gate of the corridor Dibër-Tiranë-Durrës.
On the other side, near the mountain of Vila, in the straits of Krraba, there is the Illyrian city of the Parthins-Persqopi (3-th century before our era), whose inhabitants later displaced to Petrela.
The castle of Dorëzi
that passes through the river of Treza and Piolli (the first period of iron), then the castle of Ndroqi, Preza, Ishmi, altogether these antique and medieval castles made the defensive fence of Tirana. The castle of Tirana was and remained the historic kernel of the area of Tirana and an administrative residence during middle Ages.
As such, it continued even in 17-th century, when the city of Tirana expanded around it by having a filtered citizen center (the social –cultural complex) built by Sulejman Pasha, the crafts and commercial trade from the north view, Namazgjanë and the bridge of Tabakëve from the east side, the government men buildings inside the location of the castle.
The two other sides were raised upon the sides of Lana River.
It is thought that in 1640, Ahmet Beu made the restoration of the walls raising the height in antique structures. The long tower that still has a partially good condition was also a work of his. The castle is damaged again in the period between the inter- feudal wars of the 18-th century, where the troops of Ahmet Kurt Pasha of Berat collided with Bushatllinjtë. The immured people of Tirana defended it with heroism and the castle was not invaded by any of them. To this time belongs the system of embrasure for the fire guns in the highest part of the enclosing walls.
After 1814, the fortress of Tirana becomes residence of its new invaders; Toptans, who came from Kruja and built two houses, one for inhabitation and the other for reception, as it is still today. During the 20-th century, when its original function for defense was lost, there were observed big damages. It lost a part of the enclosing walls and its full stylistic formulation of the building is almost unnoticeable from the rests.
Though, it still remains a governmental residence or the most shown up for them in our days.
In our days in its terrain there are the Academy of Sciences, the National Assembly and the National Gallery of Arts.
Will its history be completely enlightened?
You can trust legends very little. The oral tradition and especially the written sources cannot be dried up. Anyway, there is still a safe way, the architectural tracing with the valuating methods of science of restoring. This illuminative process has started in 2000, through the close collaboration of the Municipality of Tirana with the Institute of Cultural Monuments, which altogether pay an essential attention to this essential monument part of the program ”Return to Identity.“
By this angle of perception the fortress (Kalaja) of Tirana was and should be treated in our époque as the historic and cultural monument of the Capital.
Castle of Petrela
From the discoveries made, the fortress of Petrela is a medieval fortress constructed in the time of invasion of the Byzantium Emperor Justian I, in the VI century AC. This was one of the fortresses he raised in the defensive system of the Empire. This is a fortress raised on a terrain with very inclined sides, rugged in the south and southeast, which made the fortress too protected. It was raised in the moment when the Fortress of Vile, the antique fortress, situated in front of the Fortress of Petrela lost its particular importance.
In the beginning of the XIV–century it was under the Topiaj invasion, at the time owners between Mat and Shkumbin and in one of the sidewalls there is still kept the emblem of Topiaj.
Castle of Preza
Barleti mentions Preza as the city of Parthinks. The fact that Barleti mentions it shows that Topiaj that owned the area built it before Kruja’s besieges and its construction dates back at the beginning of the XV-century.
As it is understood, it was abandoned during the time of Gjon Kastrioti‘s time and his own son. After the Turkish invasion it underwent some reparations, among which there was reconstructed a mosque. Small or large cemeteries along the fragments of “Egnatia” Street touch Tirana ‘s area.
National Historical Museum
National Historical Museum (Albanian: Muzeu Historik Kombetar) in Tirana, Albania, is the country’s largest museum. It was founded in 28th October 1981. The building of the museum required the demolition of the former Tirana Municipal Building. The gigantic mosaic appearing at the main entrance is entitled The Albanians. The National Historical Museum includes the following pavilions: Antiquity, Medieval, Rilindja Kombetare, Iconography, Culture of Albania, Albanian Resistance of World War II, and Communist genocide.
Among the most valuable collections of this section are those that identify the Archaic period and the period of Illyrian Albanian culture.
In the medieval period pavilion, with more than 300 objects, are realized documentation of historical process of Illyrian-Albanian period. The collection of Medieval period objects includes the heraldic emblem of the Albanian princes, ruined cathedral columns, reliefs and icons bigger Painting Albanians as Onufri (XVI century), David Selenica and Constantine Shpataraku of the XIII-th century.
A priceless object is Epitaph of Glavenica, worked with gold by an Albanian prince XIV-th century., George Arianiti. The collection of this period is added and a new pavilion that has icons in an iconostasis its content from Elbasan and 50 icons taken from the collection of the Institute of Cultural Monuments of the cult objects, collected during the last 50 years in whole territory of Albania.
It offers objects and facts from different periods of Albanian Civilisation.
Museum of Natural Sciences
It is one of the largest of this kind in the Balcan Peninsula. It keeps rare species of Flora and Fauna, conserved from many years from the albanian explorers.
Tirana’s first private museum consists of 800-object Mezuraj family collection of which a changing selection is on display. Two rooms are dedicated to Albanian paintings and sculptures, with a striking Socialist Realist depiction of happy young people on a harvest campaign. There are also various archaeological artefacts on display, including Greek amphorae, beautiful bronze-age jewellery, 4th century weights, spearheads, and a plate from the sunken Italian warship ‘Po’.
Mosque of Tirana
It is a monument with historical values, which in harmony with the Clock tower form a monumental complex of values for our city, which is presented to every visitor that comes to Tirana.
The mosque started construction in 1794 by Mulla Beu. The period of construction lasted up to 1821 and was finished by Mula Beu‘s son, Et’hem Beu. The Praying Room covered by a cupola, the portico and the minaret composes the internal setting. The internal lighting is made through five windows in each page placed by rank. There is only an entrance gate in the northern part. In front of the entrance door, there is an addition for praying, including the eastern side. The portico bases on a basement, whose stony overlay was made later in 1940.
The portico is circled with 14 arches placed on 15 columns of 1 stony piece, on which we have the ornamented capital of vegetable plants. Beside the portico, to Et’hem Beu belongs also the minaret’s construction, built with sculpted stones by the stone’s masters. Interesting there are also the marble stones of vegetables plants. By the end of the construction in 1821 there were made the internal depiction and the external part of the Praying Room. The arcade was finished in 1823.
The mosque of Haxhi Et’hem Beu is distinguished by the unique style of the tower with the full-enlightened cupola.
In general its external view together with the minaret is very harmonic in proportion with the achievements. For the values it has, the Mosque is declared a cultural monument under the state’s protection.
Church of Shëngjini’s source
Tirana was established in 1614, but the land on which it was constructed had earlier inhabitant traces. One of these old testimonies belongs to the western side of the center of the city, which was discovered in 1972. The discovery brought into view a longish axis directed to west east. It is composed by the naos (the meeting–room) in the west, and narthex (the fore room) in the east and the other parts are placed in the northern part.
The building’s walls are raised near 30 cm on the land superficies, with tiles in the corners and in the door’s spatula. The Naos (the meeting–room) placed in the western part has these measures 8 x 11.5 meters, laid with a mosaic and finishes with the semi-circle upside on the eastern side in a lesser level than that of the meeting–room.
The narthex has these measures 12.9 x 5 meters and has longer ribs in the north south and also lay with mosaics. In the main entrance door, the door was constructed with an axis in the western wall, while the fore- room has two doors during the long axis as the building’s own function requirements.
An interesting judgment for the progress of this area, in particular for this peasant inhabitant center that links Dyrrahu with Skampa are the two mosaics, that of naos and of narthex. The mosaic of naos (the meeting –room) has geometric motives and pictures that subdue the symmetry toward the long axis of the room. Inside, it is composed by a whole motive of multi colors such as braids, triangles, circles that are interrupted and four interesting vases with cubes of glass paste placed on it.
The mosaic of narthex, that is guard less shows it has been more beautiful. The remained fragments beside the geometric décor have a course of pictures from the animal world, such as poultry and fish (symbols of cult). Thus, the mosaic of the narthex is circled with motives, archons, but here the geometric system is used less and becomes more irregular.
It is thought that the ruined building in the late architect period, we have to do with an inhabitant building of the IV-V century in a cult building.
The bridge is from the 18-th century and linked the two sides of Lana was baptized as Ura e Tabakëve. It is a testimony of the city‘s development and the increase of communication with the internal areas.
Ura e Tabakëve is distinguished for its harmonious architecture and the proportional scattering of its elements. It is composed by a main arch, on which the bridge raises in a back shape. This arch has the light span of 8 meters and is built with two ranks of sideway arches with thickness of 1 meter. The height from sea level was 3.5 meters. The pavement of the bridge with width 2.5 meters, constructed with river stones is placed without any order. In the two sides of the main arch, there have been constructed two arches in the shape of circular segments with a small space. Ura e Tabakëve played its function to pass from one side of Lana into the other up to the ’30s. After that, Lana took another direction, displacing its permanent way.