Tirana

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Tirana is the capital of Albania.

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Points of Interest in Tirana

  • Clock Tower (Kulla e Sahatit), Skanderbeg Square. 09:00-13:00, 16:00-18:00. Closed Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. Positioned in the city centre, this tower has become a symbol of Tirana. It is one of the oldest constructions in Tirana, built in the 1820s. Don't forget to visit the nearby Clock Towers of Albania Museum featuring Clock Towers from around Albania, and traditional costumes from Tirana region. 10 lek.
  • Et'hem Bey Mosque, Skanderbeg Square. 08:00 - 22:00 (summer), 08:00 - 19:00 (winter). Construction of this mosque took about 28 years and finished in 1821. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Albania with very interesting decorations and art-work within it.
  • National Historic Museum, Skanderbeg Square (northwest edge),  +355 4 222 34 46. 10:00-17:00, closed Mondays. The main museum in Tirana, it is in the center of the city, easily recognizable because of a huge mosaic standing on top of its front facade. It contains many artifacts ranging from ancient times through Hoxha's regime. Repeated looting in the 1990s has robbed the museum of many artifacts, but it remains the best place in Albania to learn its history. The history between 1944 and 1991 is not yet covered but there is a harrowing exhibition about Albania's gruesome labor camp system during that time. There is enough information in English to follow the exhibition and there are guided tours in English from time to time. 200 leks.
  • National Art Gallery (Galeria Kombetare e Arteve), Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit. 9:00am to 7:00pm. 13th century pieces, modern art, socialist art. 200 lek.
  • Bush Street (Rruga Presidenti George W. Bush) (Across from Parliament Building and Murat Toptani Street). This street was named after US President George W. Bush in honor of his 2007 visit.
  • Piramida (International Centre of Culture), Skanderbeg Square. The pyramid was built in 1987 according to the design of Enver Hoxha's daughter and was originally a museum of her father. Today it's a venue for many conventions and art events. US president George W Bush gave a speech in front of this building. The building was the most expensive erected under communism, and there are plans for future changes into it. The new designs are worked by architectural firm associated with Hoxha's daughter.
  • Blloku or Ish-Blloku (The Block), Mainly Rr. Ismail Qemali and nearby streets (take the bus signed 'Tirana e Re'; get off at the namesake station). Among the apartment blocks, one can find some of Tirana's best cafés, shops, and restaurants. Here is also located the villa of the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. During communism, the area was reserved solely for government officials and was not allowed to be entered by the commoner. It was opened to the public in 1991 and since became the number one spot for Tirana's youth. At night the area gets full of people especially on weekends when most night clubs are full. The streets, especially in summer afternoons, are filled with Tirana's citizens and expensive cars cruising around. From the Block you can go almost anywhere for less than 10-15 minutes. If you need to have a coffee or relax while taking a look at the parade of trendy and elegant people, the block is a perfect place for you. In the Block you can buy trendy clothing items and French delicacies. You can also get taxis.
  • National Archaeological Museum of Albania, Sheshi Nene Tereza,  222 6541. This museum features ancient artifacts from Illyrian to Roman and Hellenic times featuring wonderful mosaics, Roman statues and illustrative maps.
  • National Library of Albania (Biblioteka Kombëtare e Shqipërisë), Rr. Luigj Gurakuqi. The library holds over a million books and is known for its ancient collections.
  • Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral (Katedralja Ortodokse e Ringjalljes se Krishtit), Rr. Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit (West of Skanderbeg Square nearby the Ministry of Defence). This cathedral is brand new featuring fascinating architecture and rich interior iconography.
  • Sali Shijaku's Traditional House, Rr. Vildan Luarasi (A few blocks east of the Train Station),  4 226 1458. This well preserved traditional house owned by painter Sali Shijaku features art displays, traditional house emnities, and a restaurant.
  • Tirana Zoo (Kopshti Zoologjik Tiranë). 09:00 - 18:00. Visiting this zoo is an odd experience; there are few animals but you will see them at remarkably close range. Nearby is located the Botanical Garden featuring the best of Albania's fauna. 50 lek.
  • Martyrs' Cemetery, Rr. e Elbasanit. This is the cemetery where the remains of 900 partisans that fought for Tirana are buried. Here one can also find the 12m statue of Mother Albania (1972). Hoxha was buried here in 1985 but exhumed in 1992 and moved to the other side of the city.
  • Tirana Mosaic (Mozaiku i Tiranes), Blloku pallateve Partizani, Lagja nr. 9. The mosaic was discovered following excavations for an apartment complex. Various artifacts point to the presence of a village in the area thousands of years ago. This is the only archaeological site in Tirana!
  • Saint Paul Catholic Cathedral (Katedralja e Shen Palit), Bulevardi Zhan D'Ark (Across from ETC and the Pyramid). Recently constructed, this cathedral features fascinating window murals.
  • Natural Sciences Museum of Albania, Rruga e Kavajes. This museum features the fauna and geological composition of Albania.

Skanderbeg Square

Palace of Culture

Et\'Hem Bey Mosque

National Art Gallery

National Museum of History

Pyramid

Tirana Parliament

Selman Stermasi Stadium

Palace of Congress

University of Tirana

Qemal Stafa Stadium

Caves of Pellumbas

Mount Datji

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Popular events in Tirana in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
The event list provided by Eventful

About Tirana

Background

Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a native feudal lord from Mullet, established the city in 1614. His first constructions were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam (Turkish bath). On February 8, 1920 Tirana was made the temporary capital by the Congress of Lushnje, and it was proclaimed the permanent capital on December 31, 1925.

Tourists usually find Tirana a beautiful and charming city, with a lively night life. However, Tirana suffers from pollution problems mainly due to the rapid increase in cars in the city and continuous construction. Long gone are the days when Tirana used to be subject to power outages almost daily and this made Tirana a noisy city as the lack of power and lack of traffic lights had cars navigating by honking their horns.

Today the situation has dramatically improved regarding power outages. Tirana is undergoing a major renovation from its communist days. Many of the ugly dull buildings have been repainted, but a lot of work is left to be done. The average citizen speaks little English and Italian.

The main business and entertainment area (not by coincidence) has become "The Block" (Blloku) which is the area where in the past, the communist leaders used to live under strict protection. Locals prefer to hang out at the many cafes and main parks. A popular retreat is by cable car to Mount Dajti where one can get a panoramic view of the city from above.

There is a tourist information office in the Rruga Ded Gjo Luli just north of Skanderbeg Square (behind the National Historic Museum). The English-speaking staff are very helpful and can provide maps and directions to hostels/hotels etc. Also free copies of "Tirana in your pocket" guide, which includes vital information about bus and furgon schedules. Note that (as of 2013) the office is closed at weekends and that it is only open from 11 AM to 4 PM on workdays.

Activities

Go for a walk in the evening along the main streets or at one of the several parks and sit for a coffee or drink. Take part in the vibrant nightlife by visiting one of the numerous nightclubs.[7] If you are adventurous and brave enough, try the peculiar experience of driving in the city's streets by renting a car, or rent a bicycle from a bike renting station. You can also cruise the city with a limousine or venture out in the picturesque suburbs either south or northeast/west of Tirana. Below are some venturing suggestions:

  • Sky Tower Rotating Bar. (Rr. Ibrahim Rugova) This is a must! The rotation is a bit jerky and may leave you slightly seasick.
  • Murat Toptani Street. Murat Toptani Street is a recently opened pedestrian only street east of Rinia Park constructed with stone and located nearby Tirana Castle walls. Traditional houses, cafes, and a local park are found here.
  • Sheshi Skënderbej (Skanderbeg Square). Tirana's city centre. A statue of Albanian hero Skanderbeg stands in the square with the Albanian flag on the side. Renovations have made the square pedestrians and public transportation friendly. Government buildings featuring Italian architecture and some structures outlined below are all right off this square.
  • Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard (Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit (Nation's Martyrs Boulevard)). A panoramic boulevard built by the Italians in the 1930s similar to the Champs de Elysee extending south from Skanderberg Square. The boulevard features Fascist, Communist, and modern architecture of government buildings, business centers and hotels. Many local parks are found here.
  • Taiwan Complex (Kompleksi Tajvani). This beautiful place in the heart of downtown Tirana. It includes restaurants, casinos, bars, a club, etc. It is surrounded by a huge lit water fountain with a glowing bridge that reaches to the restaurant, and is an ideal place for all ages. Children enjoy gourmet ice cream and iced European soft drinks, whilst adults and teens can enjoy fun casinos. This is an excellent tourist attraction, and many Albanian celebrities can be found in the area.
  • Mother Teresa Square. Located at the southern side of Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard, this square features typical Fascist architecture. Buildings include the University of Tirana, Archaeological Institute, Academy of Arts and the National Stadium.
  • Mount Dajti (Mount Dajti National Park), Dajt Commune. 1,612m high (Getting to the topmost point is not possible because of a restricted area with antennas and a military zone). Offers great views of Tirana. A very relaxing area, mount Dajti can be reached through an Austrian-built express cable car (one ride takes more than 15 minutes so is worth the cost even if you don't stay atop the mountain). To get to the bottom station of the cable car, take the bus line "Qender - Linze" that starts east beside the Skanderbeg place behind the mosque. In the bus tell the conductor "Teleferik" and he will show you the station to get out of the bus. From there it is a short 5 minute walk guided by direction signs. In the top station of the cable car is a hotel (30€ for a double room (2013)) and a tourist agency offering various activities like horse riding, trekking, excursions, sky sports, ski etc. The area has a limited number of hotels and restaurants, but it is great for taking a breath of fresh air, mountain sports, or to just get out of the city for a while. The Pellumba Cave in the area is worth a visit. Unfortunately, litter is becoming a problem on Mount Dajti. This detracts from the experience somewhat, but the beautiful scenery still makes the trip worthwhile. 700 lek (up and down by cable car).
  • Grand Park along the Artificial Lake (Parku i Madh) (southern part of the city). People have picnics and have fun, and the natural beauty allows it because of the huge trees, open spaces, and mountains surrounding them. An artificial lake lies in the middle of the Park. It is popular with locals and tourists as a place to walk around and enjoy a lunch or coffee at one of the restaurants or cafés. Over 120 types of plants. A popular swimming pool complex is located nearby.
  • Ali Demi Skate Park (Go north-east on the Bulevardi-Bajram-Curri, and then take a right on the Ruga-Ali-Demi. You should go about half a mile on that road. Then the skate park will be directly on your right. You can’t miss it; its right next to a park with a fountain in the middle of it and a café with a junglejim, there are many green ramps.). The Ali-Demi skate park is a great place to go with your family because there is a nice park on one of the sides next to the skate park, there are markets, and a beautiful café shop with a playground for small children with typical swings and benches and soccer fields in the back. The skate park is full of people on bikes, roller skates, and skate boarders. The Skate Park is very good for beginners, the ramps are all cement (there is coping on the ramps). The ramps have a good variety—there are small ramps along with big ones. Almost all the ramps are shaped like a plateau they are good for caching air. There are many places to do ollies and 180s off of and other places to grind if you are an experienced skate boarder. The skate park is slightly below the rest of the park so you shouldn’t go when it’s raining because it fills up with water. There are quarter pipes along the sides of the skate park. This skate park is very fun for skaters, bikers, and rollerskaters.

Suburban Tirana

  • Petrela Castle. This is one of Albania's best preserved castles, found a short distance south of Tirana. It is known as an ancient settlement 2000 years old and was commanded by princess Mamica, the sister of the national hero, Skanderbeg.
  • Preze Castle. This 15th century castle is located on the picturesque hills of Preze village west of Rinas Airport.
  • Brar Canyon and Bridge (Northeast of Tirana inside Mount Dajti National Park), Brar village (Follow Myslym Keta Street). A panoramic canyon and Ottoman bridge just steps from the capital. Spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Tirana. A cave and a few traditional houses can also be found.
  • Southeast of Tirana, Rruga e Elbasanit (South-East of Tirana). Many small resorts are located in the outskirts of the city along Rruga e Elbasanit. One locality features shooting range facilities, a modest golf club and horse riding facility, while others wooden villa accommodation and swimming pools.

Coastal retreat

  • Lalzit Bay Beach (Gjiri i Lalzit) north of Durres in Shen Pjeter village around Rodon Cape is a popular retreat. A small resort can also be found.
  • General's Beach (Plazhi i Gjeneralit) southwest of Kavaje near Spille village is also a popular retreat. The name stems from an Italian general who used to rest at this beach during the world wars. There is the best possibility to explore the Ionian sea with best holidays hotels which can be booked through [www.edialtour.com] that are almost 200 beaches hotels of albania.

Some of the most popular events are Summer Day celebrations in Mid-March, and Independence Day festivities on November 28. Recently, a number of prestigious festivals have become a tradition in the city's calendar of events:

Festivals

  • Tirana International Film Festival (Tirana Film Fest). This annual film festival held at the end of November and beginning of December highlights the work of ethnic Albanian artists.
  • Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (Tirana Biennale),  692069011. This biannual art festival features the best of internatioanl contemporary art. It was last held in 2009 at the historic Hotel Dajti building.
  • Tirana Jazz Fest.
  • Rally Albania, Mother Teresa Square,  4 2231 586. The event features an international competition in the rough Albanian countryside roads.

Food

There are many excellent, inexpensive restaurants in Tirana serving all kinds of food. Traditional cuisine can be found at:

Traditional

  • Oda, Rr. Luigj Gurakuqi (Past Sheshi Avni Rustemi towards Skanderbeg Square),  +355 4 2249541. noon-late. Situated inside a Tirana traditional house, this restaurant features delicious traditional cuisine. 500 lek.
  • Sarajet, Rr. Abdi Toptani,  +355 4 2243038. Owned by artist Paskal Prifti, you will enjoy homemade bread, a variety of local wines and the local firewater, Raki. Prifti invites friends to sing traditional polyphonic songs from the south!
  • Sofra e Ariut, Rruga e Elbasanit (Inside Tirana's Big Park),  +355 4 2372904. Specializing in traditional Albanian cuisine, the interior is decorated with traditional ornaments.

Budget

Small shops and roadside vendors throughout the city sell foods such as sufllaqe, doner, and gjiro for less than 200 lek. Also try the local specialty, byrek.

  • Albanian Fried Chicken (in Bllok near the Sky Tower),  +355 4 2250112. 09:00-24:00. The Albanian version of KFC, specializes in fried chicken and burgers. 500 lek.
  • Big Bite, Mr.Chicken, and Gjiro Kamara are fast food restaurants in Blloku where you get a good taste of Albanian fast food.
  • Kolonat (in Bllok, near Nene Tereza Square, and on rruges Elbasanit),  +355 42382202. 09:00 - 24:00. Albanian's version of McDonald's. Specializes in burgers and pizza. 500 Lek for one person (sandwich, fries, and drink). 500 Lek.
  • Marion Restaurant, Tirana University student's campus. Budget self service restaurant in the Central Campus. Very popular among students.

Also there is a new fast-food called AFC. It serves a lot of things and you can have a lunch or a dinner there.

Mid-range

  • Gloria. Excellent food (Italian and Albanian) with good service.
  • King House, Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit,  +355 4 2255559. Combination of excellent Albanian and Italian food. Always very popular with expats and locals.
  • Yamato (Blloku). A more formal restaurant than other Blloku eateries, children-friendly Yamato has a big selection of Japanese foods prepared by a Filipino chef.

Splurge

  • Gurra e Perris, Mali Dajtit (Dajti Mountain) (After you get off the cable car, restaurant's micro-buses will take you directly to the restaurant),  +355 68 20 60 720. Traditional restaurant in a marvelous place, with fantastic view of the city. Fresh meat, fresh trout (you can also catch it by yourself there). 1000 Lek.
  • Bar Restaurant Patricia, Fortuzi Street near the school Jeronim De Rada (Going up the Durresi Street turn right at the Ministry of Education),  +355 4 2228372. 09:00-24:00. A fancy and comfortable restaurant. Its specialty is the Italian food. 1000 Lek.
  • Qendra Stefan (Stephen's Center).
  • Vila 12, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti in front of Birrila's building,  +355 4 225 06 33. 11:00-23:00. A gourmet fish restaurant that has some very fishy combinations indeed. The chef likes to experiment; try the raw fish with radish, grapes and strawberries, or the potato-cake with cod and mozzarella. Thankfully there's also traditional grilled fish and lobster. The hot choc fondant cake is a worthy dessert.
  • Juvenilja Castelo, At the national park (Close to hotel Sheraton),  +355 682022802. 0-24. Mainly serves Italian food but Albanian as well. A 5 star restaurant. 1000 lek.

Drinks

Raki is Albania's national alcohol; try Boza for something non-alcoholic, the most famous of which is Pacara Boza + 355 692481122. 1 bottle of 1.5 l ~ 100 lek.

Blloku is the main nightlife spot in the city.

  • Grand Cafe, Blloku. Frequented by elites of the city for a good cup of coffee.
  • Lizard, Blloku. There is often live shows performed by bands from all over Albania, when prices for drinks drop a little. Lizard is known for the cocktails their experienced bartender prepares.
  • Shakesbeer Bar, Blloku. Good place offering beers.
  • Converse, Charls, Steel Wings (Bikers club), Unit, Mos Fli. Clubs in Blloku frequented by die hard rock and metal fans.

Shopping

There are plenty of ATMs accepting Cirrus/Maestro and VISA around the city (and there is one at the airport).

  • Adrion International Bookshop, Palace of Culture, Skanderberg Square,  4 223 5242. 8:30am to 9:30pm. Magazines and newspapers from around the world. English books available.
  • Unique, Blloku. This shoe shop has fancy shoes such as Dsquared, Fendi, Moschino, etc.
  • kiosques, Rr. Barrikadave and Rr. Durresit (North of Sulejman Pasha Square and across from the Tourist Info Center). Souvenirs.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Tirana on Wikivoyage.

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