Kruja (alb. Krujë) is a medieval town located 32 km northwest of Tirana and 20 minutes by car from the international Airport of Rinas. It is built 560 meters above sea level, on the slopes of Sari -Salltiku mountain.
Scanderbeg Monument in Kruja
The name of Kruja derives from the Albanian word krua, meaning 'water spring'. The citadel have become the main Illyrian fortress in the area in the 4th century AD. In the year 879, Kruja was mentioned for the first time as a Christian religious center, (bishop see). The first Albanian feudal state was created here circa 1190.
The ottomans occupied Kruja two times, in 1396 and 1415. Town reached its zenith on the 28th of November 1443 when the Kruja castle was taken by Gjergj Kastrioti (Skanderbeg), who then organized the long anti-Ottoman resistance. From this time on, under the leadership of Skanderbeg, Kruja repelled three Ottoman sieges in 1450, 1457 and 1466. Only ten years after the death of Skanderbeg, in 1478, were the Ottomans able to capture the castle and destroy the town.
View to Kruja from the Castle
What to see
Kruja Castle - was built during the 5th and 6th centuries and has an elliptical shape with a total area of 2,25 hectars. The surrounding walls are reinforced by nine towers, which served as an observation and signaling post during times of war. Within the walls of the castle there can still be found the remains of a few houses.
Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg - inside of Kruja Castle.
Ethnographic Museum - inside of Kruja Castle.
Traditional Bazaar - on the way to the castle, a medieval - type bazaar with traditional handicrafts such as filigree, alabaster, silver, copper, wooden made objects, wool carpets, etc. Its main pecularities are that all the shops are made of wood.
Archaeological site of Albanopoli - On a hill side near the village of Zgerdhesh (between Kruje and Fushe-Kruje) are the ruins of the ancient city of 'Albanopolis', the capital of the Illyrian tribe 'Alban' which flourished from the end of the 3rd century A.D. It is from the 'Alban' Illyrian tribe that the country started to be called 'Albania' and the people 'Albanians'. A visit to Ancient Zgerdhesh is rewarding for the magnificent views across the coastal lowlands towards the Adriatic as well as for the impressive remains of Illyrian walls and fortifications.
Lezha - town 50 km north to Kruja founded in ancient times. Lezha was the site where Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg united the Albanian princes in the fight against the Ottoman Empire. Skanderbeg is buried in the cathedral of Lezha which is dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Skanderberg museum has also the outer sector - archaeological environment with objects from Lezha ancient and medieval period, found around the museum.To the east of town on top of a 186m high hill is located Lezha Castle, which bears traces of Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture.
Kruja Area in Photos
Trip to Kruja - Traditional Bazaar, Skanderbeg Museum, Kruja Castle; 20 pictures, 01/2008