Mosque of Ethem Bey & Clock Tower
Tirana (alb. Tiranë) is relatively new city established in 1614 by Sulejman Pasha, feudal of the area at the time. The city began to grow at the beginning of the 18 century, but it remained an unimportant town until it was proclaimed Albania's capital in 1920. This was mainly due to its geographical position more or less in the middle of the country, on the fault-line between the northern Ghegs and the southern Tosks.
Italian planners and architects build the main square named after the national hero Skanderbeg, the huge boulevard, ministry buildings, national bank and the town hall. Today Tirana is not only the most populated city in Albania (over 800,000 inhabitants) but also the most important political and economic centre in the country.
Dajti mountain and Adriatic sea are near to the city. It takes less than one hour drive to reach the sea.
National Historic Museum
What to see
Skanderbeg Square - Tirana's city center, with statue of Albanian hero Skanderbeg. Just in the centre, there is Clock Tower, Mosque of Ethem Bey, National Opera and Ballet Theatre, National Library and National Historical Museum.
Mosque of Ethem Bey - Construction of this mosque took about 28 years and was finished in 1821. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Albania with very interesting decorations and art-work within it. Beside the main entrance are the tombs of the founder and his wife.
Clock Tower - this 35m high tower has become a symbol of Tirana. It is one of the oldest constructions, built in the 1820's.
National Historic Museum - the most important museum in Albania. In various sections are displays concerning the whole of Albania from prehistoric until recent times. The famous so-called 'Goddess of Butrint', the mosaic portraying 'The Beauty of Durres', 65 icons ranging from the 13th to the 19th centuries and many other outstanding objects reflecting the history and culture of Albania are all assembled here. Museum is located in the center of the city, easily recognizable because of a huge mosaic standing on top of its front facade.
Ministries - along the boulevard 'Deshmorët e Kombit', represents architectonic values.
Archaeological Museum - archeology buffs who aren't satisfied by the finds on display at the National History Museum will find even more fragments of various finds here, from pottery and animal statuettes to arrowheads and jewellery. In three large rooms are displayed approximately 2,000 finds which range from the Palaeolithic to the Middle Ages and which come from all parts of Albania.
National Arts Gallery - possesses c. 4,000 works of art from the 13th century to the present. In addition to the permanent displays (mainly icons), the gallery hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary native and foreign artists (painters, sculptors, photographers) and special events such as the Marubi Photography Prize and the Tirana Biennale.
Tanners bridge (Ura e Tabakeve) - from 18th century, situated along the boulevard 'Zhan D'Ark'.
Blloku - an area situated in the middle of vegetation where the villas of the communist elite used to be, has become the hotspot of nightlife in the capital with trendy bars, pubs, cafes and nightclubs.
Martyrs Cemetery - contains the 'Mother Albania' monument, offers one of the best view to the Tirana surroundings.
Dajti Mountain - can be reached through a Swiss-built express cable car. Tirana's largest recreation centre with walking trails, restaurants, horseback riding, and biking. The view along the route is worth the cost even if you don't stay atop the mountain.
Fortress of Pertrela
Fortress of Pertrela - is located at south of Tirana on the right side of the main street Tirana-Elbasan, 18 km from the capital. It is one of the tourist locations close to Tirana that attracts a great number of visitors. The Fortress is perched on a rocky hill, above the village with the same name. It has a triangular shape with two observation towers. Although it was first built in ancient times, the present building dates back to the 15th century. The Petrela Fortress was part of the signaling and defense system of the Kruja Castle. The castles signaled to each other by means of fires. Today there is a restaurant inside the castle. The castle offers spectacular views of the Erzen valley, the hills, olive groves, and surrounding mountains.
Fortress of Preza - near the village with the same name, quite close to the Mother Theresa International Airport. It is a small fortress from 15th century, known for its beautiful location. The fortress has four towers, one in each corner.
Castle of Dorsi - in the surroundings of Peza, which belongs to ancient Illyrian culture.
Castle of Bashtova - built in the late middle age in the 14-th century, when the feudal system appeared in Albania. It is situated 3-4 km north from the cast of Shkumbin River to the Sea. It served the Venetians to defend the sea and river wharfages.
Tirana Area in Photos
Albania - Country of Amusement - Blur Center ('Argetim pa limit' = Entertainment without borders), 09/2008
For more information, see Tirana Municipality website
Map of Tirana with touristic attractions (pdf, 1,8MB)
Tirana In Your Pocket - essential city guide, the newest issue 2008-2009 (pdf, 4,68MB)