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Labova E Kryqit

The church is one of the most interesting monuments in Albania, the church of Labova, which is devoted to Saint Mary. The church of Labova e Kryqit is one of the oldest in Albania and once contained a holy relic believed to be a fragment of the true cross. It was from this relic that the village took its name. The relic was stolen during the civil unrest in the early 1990s.  The building is typically Byzantine with a high central cupola with nave and aisles arranged in a cruciform plan. A later narthex provides the principal entrance.  There are nine distinct levels of frescos painting on the interior walls. The church that we see today is essentially a creation of the 13th century, during the time of the Despots of Epirus, although an original foundation may go back to AD 527-565 and the reign of Emperor Justinian.

Gjirokaster, Albania

Cave Of Pellumbas

The cave of Pëllumbas, also known as The Black cave, is valued by specialists as one of the most precious archeological sites of Albania. In this cave there were found skeletons, which according to the confirmation of the Museum of Natural Sciences of Florence University, belong to cave bears (UrsusSpeleaus), that lived from 10.000 to 400.000 years ago. Different from similar European caves, the Cave of Pëllumbas has also remnants of human culture, which according to the confirmation of Tirana Archaeological Institute belong to the period of Paleolit in Ancient Middle Ages. The cave is about 360 m long, 10 – 15 m wide and 15 – 45 m high, filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites

Tirana, Albania

Theth

Theth is in the heart of the Theth National Park surrounded by Albania’s highest mountains, more than 100 caves and beautiful waterfalls. Compared to similar parts of Europe, the Albanian Alps are relatively unexplored by a lot of tourists. Even 10,000 visitors a year is not that many. People come here to access the mountains, but also for a glimpse at a different way of life.During the day the valley is so quiet. Sometimes the only sound was a bell tied to cow several hundred metres away. At night the sky was full of stars.Theth was apparently founded 400 years ago by six brothers. The oldest grave I find in the cemetery is from 1933, but there are a lot of wooden crosses with just names, no dates. The main road in, a poor gravel track over the mountain, is inaccessible without a four-wheel-drive. In winter it is closed, but by then most of the residents will be in Shkodra. Only five families will brave the winter when the valley will be covered with about three metres of snow. The rest will come back in April or May.Most of the buildings are houses or guesthouses, some of which also offer a cafe or bar. There is a school, but no stores. Supplies are brought in from Shkodra, but the families here are very self-sufficient. Every house has a vegetable garden, fruit trees and usually a cow or some sheep.

Shkoder, Albania

The Old Bazaar Of Korca

The bazaar of Korca was one of the most reputed of the ottoman times in Albania. Indeed the relevance of korca as market and traders place started only after the decadence of the neighbor city of Voskopoje, but the bazaar became well known, mainly for quality of clothes, the variety of spices and the animals sold there (goats mainly). apparently it was a noisy busy place and very soon took the nickname of bazaar of serenates. Today it is a big market which keeps -around a big square-also some old streets fulled with small shops pretty much similar to eastern bazaars. In a parallel alley there is also a large food market occupying a long street and two big covered naves. all the area is bustling and colorfull.

Walking in the part of food supplies it is surprising the richness of spices: chillies, salep, chamomile, herbal teas. There are on sale several kinds of mountain honey. Also the reputed fasule, very big beans traditional from the region.

One of the sweetest corners in the bazaar are the two remaining caravansary. They are called han in Albanian, and keep all the atmosphere of very old times. The one is called Han Manastir. It has an small garden in the middle of the courtyard, with some old funerary steles and the remaining of an old gates. The upper side is used as stores for shops. In the down some shops of clothes and cleaning products and a beautiful coffee shop. By passing by the coffee some people called me. they were sitting

The other caravansary is the Han Elbasan. It has a pit in the middle and was reconstructed during communist time. is a busy place perfectly integrated in the market and people enters continuously looking for clothes or shoes in the small shops of the down part. As if centuries pass slower in this area.

Korca was always a crossroad. It must be so taken into consideration where is the city, and its history which passes over the current borders. A cosmopolitan air makes more fascinating the city and the market. In the entire bazaar it is easy to see posters and writes in Greek and to listen people speaking in Macedonian language.

 

Korca, Albania

Korca

Albania does not have so many cities which keep an urban style of life. Korca is one of these.

It is a middle sized, cozy cosmopolitan city situated just in the  southeastern corner of the country. Some kilometers far from borders with Greece and Macedonia.

Traditionally Korca has been an old business city, in the main road of caravans and traders. In Albania it is famous also because of its delicious food, its traditional songs played with guitars and, of course, its beer.

 

The city is divided in some parts: behind the cathedral of annunciation (a modern big building that not everybody likes) is the old neighborhood, full of ottoman houses and with village atmosphere. Streets are narrow, the houses made on wood and stone. People lives in the street and chickens run around.

Then, in front of the cathedral starts the long boulevard, perfect for walks and enjoyment, framed by beautiful villas of the twenties. In the evening people of the city walk up and down in this luxury avenue and its easy to feel as in a elegant European city of the old times. With the same glamour and quietness. 

Just a bit more towards the road coming from Pogradec is situated the communist center. It is just the end of main road presided by a big Hotel still in use. As in many other communist cities. There is also the post office, some offices for money changing and even few kiosk where the daily newspapers are displayed so that people of Korca stand around for reading it, as in the communist times.

In the side of this area is situated the famous old bazaar.

 

Korca, Albania

Pogradec

The city of Pogradec and its surrounding area, as one of the Albanian beauty pearls, provides much to discover for its visitors. The region dominated by the fantastic Ohrid Lake, surrounded by fields nestled before picturesque mountains, will be your panorama throughout your holidays in Pogradec. The harmony of nature, and the friendliness of the inhabitants, will bring you back again and again.The sunny days at the beaches along the lake, the strolls along the promenade, as well as the various specialty dishes and local wine enjoyed in the restaurants will provide unforgettable moments for you . Pogradeci is one of the most charming tourist resorts in Albania because of its position near the Ohrid Lake, which distinguishes itself for clear water. Fish Koran, which is similar to the trout, is reared in this lake. Besides the beautiful beach, your staying in Pogradec is made more interesting by the excursion to the tourist center of Drilon (5 km eastward) with crystal clear fountains that fill the beautiful channels surrounded with trees and by ornamental plants.Lake Ohrid and its surrounding area shines as a splendidly unique ecosystem. Due to its historic culture and its unique flora and fauna, in 1980, Pogradec was declared by UNESCO as a place of worldwide natural and cultural heritage

 

Pogradec, Albania

Muradie Mosque

One of the most beautiful buildings in Vlore, the Muradie Mosque (Xhamia e Muradies) was built in 1542. It is believed that the cultural monument was designed by the prominent Albanian architect, Mimar Sinani, a leading mosque builder in the Ottoman Empire and the author of the Great Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. The monument consists of a prayer hall and a carved stone minaret.

In 1967, when the communist regime barred all mosque and churches in town, the Mosque of Muradie changed its functionality, becoming the Museum of Architecture of Vlore district.

Vlore, Albania

Saint Nicholas Monastery

Located in Mesopotam, this monastery is on a small hill between two branches of the Bistrica River. There are several large white blocks at the base of the church which are pre-christian. It also Includes relief sculptures of mythical animals. There is a large, unique and complex church. Destroyed and rebuilt many times, stages of building are visible. The Albanian government is currently undertaking restoration. The wall of the complex includes ruins which are older than the church itself, and also several towers.

Saranda, Albania

Synagogue Complex

Located near to the City Hall in Saranda, these ruins show that there was a large wealthy Jewish community in Oncheasmos ancient name for Saranda) during the 5th century AD. There was a community center and school in addition to religious activities. The floors have many different mosaics, including animals and also a menorah and other Jewish symbols, which proves that this was a synagogue. The buildings were destroyed either by an earthquake or by Slavic invasion. The synagogue had been converted into a basilica during the 6th century.

Saranda, Albania

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum of Durres is a great place to observe Durres life thousands of years ago. Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine artifacts give a sense of how much foreign influence Durres had received at each period. The labeling of the Museum is in native Albanian and Internationally recognized English.

Greek Section: Large display of (remaining) Terra-cotta faces/bodies with artifacts revealing a city worship of the Greek goddess of Love, Aphodite. Additionally, and for coin enthusiasts, ancient Durres minting was prevalent and valuable enough to have coins found in Romania.

Roman Section: A plethora of artifacts from the Roman period abound in Albania. The museum holds engraved tombstones, a kiln for baking clay, and artifacts from the Via Egnatia like special milestone markers.

Special Note: Many of the artifacts in the Archaeological Museum have been recently found. Additionally many artifacts have been located by construction workers and farmers digging into the earth for growing Albania!

 

Durres, Albania