Attractions in Tirana
Tirana is a charming and intriguing city. It has unique monuments and history. It is a melting pot of cultures dating way beyond the Ottoman times through the Italian occupation and a long-lasting totalitarian regime. Lonely Planet and other prestigious travel platforms and magazines describe Tirana as an intriguing, vibrant and lovely city, but complicated and unique in its kind. Expect to be surprised by the variety and contrasts you will find here. Relics of the old regime, grey and abandoned set against new colourful constructions. This is our city, this is Tirana!
Skanderbeg Monument in Skanderbeg Square
has been regarded for more than half a century as the very centre of Tirana. It commemorates the 15th century nobleman, and hero of the nation for resisting the Ottomans. He is our King Arthur, our William Tell. The sculpture, created by Odhise Paskali, is 11 metres (36 ft) tall, and was inaugurated in 1968 on the 500th anniversary of the death of Skanderbeg. The square that bears his name is a meeting place for all Albanians. It is the place where many of the most important cultural sites of Tirana and Albania are located—the National Museum, the Clock Tower, Et’hem Bey Mosque, Palace of Culture, National Library, Theatre of Opera and Ballet, and Bank of Albania—while at his back are lined up most of the government buildings.
Scanderbeg square had a huge restoration and it reopened on 10th of June, 2017. A giant pedestrian area and according to Mayor Veliaj, the biggest in Balkans. The elements of the new square are: almost 28 000 square meters paved with tiles from all the places where Albanians live. This stoned pavement has a form of shallow pyramid with the highest point in the middle at about 1.80 m. The square has more than 100 fountains with fresh water, to keep the place cool during the hot summer. The Scanderbeg Square, The National Opera, National Museum and National Bank surround the stone pavement, while behind these buildings, there are planted trees from all over Albanian territory. Mini- parks, benches, flowers, platforms for taking photos or altar for getting married, are part of the square. There are 32 square meters planted with different aromatic trees and 90 000 square meters walking area, while the underground parking can allow about up to 300.
The New Bazaar
is located at Avni Rustemi Sqaure, only 8 minute walk from the center of Tirana and quickly became the newest attraction of the city. Before the Inauguration, even though it kept the same name, the New Bazaar area was a chaotic place where vendors were selling their products not in good conditions. New Bazaar was a much needed investment for the city, replacing the decrepit one. It hosts some contemporary painted buildings, but it respects tradition, and is giving back to the city the beauty and authenticity. The New bazaar is already turned into a major attraction of the city due to the unique facades that have preserved the Italian architectural style, the decoration with Albanian motives, as well as public spaces to enjoy fresh food and rest. From the inauguration day the visitors in this area are increased, not only for the beautiful buildings but for also for the nice café and open bars. Local market offers a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and meat. It is a nice place for people to spend time with their family or friends. During weekends various activities are organized here such as fairs, concerts and open theatres for kids.
It is absolutely an important tourist attraction. As a symbol of a notorious communism, it resisted some attempts to be destroyed by previous governments. But it is still there, unrestored, a symbol of the mixed and contradictory history of Tirana. It was inaugurated on October 14, 1988, as the mausoleum of the dictator, Enver Hoxha. The pyramid form was designed by a group of architects led by the daughter and son-in-law of the dictator. Construction began in 1986 and ended in 1988. It did indeed serve as a mausoleum for Hoxha, until 1991, after which it became a conference and fair centre.
It took its name—The Pyramid—during the student revolt of December 1990, both from its form but also as a symbol of dictatorship. Today, it is officially known as the Pjeter Arbnori International Cultural Centre, and stands out as a remarkable piece of architecture and legacy from communism. It is not a museum and you can walk around outside it any time of day or night. You can even climb to the top of it. Many children use it as a slide.
Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral of Tirana
Tirana’s Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral is not just a Cathedral. It is the third-largest such structure in the Balkans and is located close to the centre of Tirana. The construction of the building, south-west of Tirana Centre Plaza, was completed in 2012. It was officially opened on 24th of June that year.The cathedral complex comprises the cathedral itself, the chapel of the Nativity, bell tower, the residence of the Holy Synod, cultural centre, a library, two other chapels and a small museum. The cathedral’s dome reaches 32.2 metres above ground, with the bell tower reaching 46 metres. Following its construction the cathedral has become a major tourism attraction in Tirana
Peace bell monument
Peace Bell- This is an interesting monument situated near to the Pyramid, not very large, but very meaningful. This bell is a reminder of the past. It is made from gun shells spent during the unrest of 1997, when hundreds of people lost their life after the collapse of the pyramid schemes. Children of the Catholic Zadrima community gathered the shells and the monument was built. It sends out a message of peace, contrasting life with death.
Postbllok (Checkpoint) Tirana, Comunism memorial Tirana
Postblloku (Checkpoint), the Memorial to Communist Isolation, commemorates the country’s political prisoners who suffered under the Hoxha regime. It is situated on the main boulevard opposite the government building. Co-created by the writer and former dissident Fatos Lubonja and the artist Ardian Isufi, the monument is made up of three main elements including one of the small concrete defensive bunkers that litter the country, several concrete supports from the mine at the notorious Spaç labour camp where thousands of political prisoners suffered between 1968 and 1990 and a brightly painted section of the Berlin Wall from Postdamer Platz that once split Germany in two.
Bektashi world center Tirana, Bektashi center Tirana
The Bektashi World Centre in the north-eastern suburbs of Tirana features a vast and impressive tekke (teqe) with a fascinating museum in the basement and a small gift shop where visitors can buy various Bektashi-related souvenirs. The Teqe is adorned from top to bottom with marbled mosaics in the most breath-taking array of colours and patterns. The Bektashi Order is a dervish sect that fuses elements of predominantly Shia and Sufi thought into a unique blend of Islamic belief and philosophy. Banned briefly by the Ottoman authorities in 1826, the Bektashi Order re-emerged later in the 19th century only to be outlawed again by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk soon after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, an event that led the order to move its headquarters to Albania in 1925.The final restoration of the religious complex was inaugurated on 8th September 2015 in the presence of the heads of all religious communities in Albania and representatives of Islam communities from elsewhere in the Balkans, Europe and beyond. Albania is well known throughout the world for its religious tolerance.