One Week in Albania: Tirana (Day 6)

After almost a week of traveling to the different parts of Albania, it was finally time to explore its capital: Tirana. We spent the last two days of our stay here, so we had plenty of time to wander around, enjoy its many monuments, parks, bars, and restaurants this city has to offer.

Most of the cities’ highlights are centered around the wide Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard. Apart from major hotel chains, you can find universities, banks, and administrative buildings along the kilometer-long road. At one end of the road you can find Skanderbeg Square, with the Skanderbeg Monument. Skanderbeg is a national hero for resisting the Ottoman empire back in the 15th century.

• Statue of Skanderbeg.

The Skanderbeg Monument is situated in the middle of the square, but there are various important buildings around it, too. One of them is the National History Museum, the largest museum in Albania. The art on the outside of the museum is the prime example of Albanian Socialist Realism style.

• National History Museum.

Continuing along the boulevard you can find a variety of churches and mosques. One of the most modern ones is the Resurrection Church, completed in 2012 and opened in 2014.

• Resurrection Cathedral.

The Et’hem Bey Mosque dates back a little further. It was built in early 19th century, was closed during the communist era, and re-opened in 1991.

• Et’hem Bey Mosque.

At the end of the boulevard, at the Mother Teresa Square, you can find the Presidential Office Building. The square was named after Mother Teresa as her parents where Albanian. We were in Tirana during the European Championship 2016, and the square was turned into a fan zone.

• Presidential Office Building.

One block away from the boulevard, closer to the shopping district, you can find Rinia Park and its Taivani complex. Its fountain, bars, and restaurants inside make it a popular spot, especially during hot summer days. The complex is quite new, as in 2000 the entire park was remodeled.

• Taivani Pool.

On the other side of the park you can find a series of monuments commemorating the countries’ victims of the communist regime. Apart from a section of the Berlin Wall, you can find a small bunker, and monument resembling a communist checkpoint.

• Memorial To Communist Isolation in Rinia Park.

Rinia Park also marks the Blloku area, an upscale area in Tirana home to many entertainment and shopping establishments. It is also the place where, at night time, the youth goes out to drink, celebrate, and party.

• Shopping street.

For families, the Great Park of Tirana might be a better fit. On the outskirts of the city, this large park offers running tracks, outdoor playgrounds, and a theatre. We went for a walk in the park on a Tuesday afternoon, and it was extremely busy.

• Grand Park of Tirana (1).

As the temperatures during the day reached the thirties, in the cooler afternoon many runners, children, and youth came out to enjoy a run, a game of table tennis, basketball, or simply to enjoy the atmosphere.

• Grand Park of Tirana (2).

If you want to get a view of Tirana, it is best to head to Dajti Mountain, located east of the city. For 500 lek, you can take the funicular up the mountain. Even if you don’t want to spare the four dollar, the view from the base station is quite impressive too.

• Outskirts of Tirana.

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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