Monday, 18 November 2019

Balkan Travel Pt 9: [Albania] Glimpses Of Albania and Its Capital City Tirana

There was a tinge of excitement as my bus crossed the immigration border into AlbaniaFew people talk about this country and far less hype about it so the bouts of curiosity I felt as I enter this new land is rather understandable.
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe. The average income of Albanians is just 31% of the European Union average (as of Sept 2019) and more than half its population have left to work elsewhere. Apparently Albania which was once under Communist Rule is still struggling to reinvent itself as a free nation.
Its lack of economic wealth is thankfully not translated into a lack of cultural or historical wealth. It has four UNESCO World Heritage Sites to its name. Neither is it lacking in panoramic beauty. Being made up of more than 70% mountains, Its landscape is quite a vista. My visit was fleeting and I had time just to visit its capital city Tirana. In fact I left Albania feeling rather unfulfilled as I didn't get to see enough of it. 
It would be good if I had an extra full day in Albania but that remained a wishful thinking. 
In this post I am sharing some snapshots of Albania's outskirts and glimpses of its capital city Tirana.
Albania village in a valley

Railway Bridge over the Drin (or Drini) River & Rozafa Hilltop Castle Fortress
An old, unused railway bridge near Prrenjas, small town in Eastern Albania,
Lake Farka
A refreshing landscape of a residential area with the mountains as its backdrop.
Great Mosque of Tirana or Namazgâh Mosque which is currently being built. When completed, it will be the largest mosque in the Balkans. Even though majority of Albanians are Muslims Albania has no official religion and was officially declared as the world's first atheist state.
Tirana city landscape

Tirana cityscape
Tirana cityscape
Tirana cityscape
Tirana cityscape
A unique sculpture called Cosmic S and fountain at Tirana's busiest 'Zogu i Zi' roundabout.
Tirana night scene

Skanderbeg Square
The first place I visited upon arrival in Tirana was Skanderbeg Square. This is the main square of Tirana, spanning 40,000 square meters in area and flanked by many prominent landmarks of the city. The National Museum, the Clock Tower, Et’hem Bey Mosque, Palace of Culture, National Library, National Theatre of Opera and Ballet, and Bank of Albania. 
The National Theatre of Opera and Ballet is the largest theatre in Albania.
The national Museum is an important museum in Albania which features  themed exhibitions about the history of Albania.

The Bank Of Albania Headquarters is located at the edge of Skanderbeg Square. We came here to look at these landmarks and left without moving beyond the square.

Dajti Express Cable Car
The second place I visited in Tirana was Dajti Mountain which is a popular viewpoint in Tirana. Our tour schedule was screwed up (by the local tour guide) and I ended visiting this view point in the dark instead of before sunset. To get to the peak of the mountain we had to take a cable car operated by Dajti Express. This is the first and only cableway in Albania. Measuring 812 meters, it is also the longest cableway in the Balkans. The duration of the cable car ride is 15 minutes per way. It would have been more meaningful had I managed to ride it while it is still bright but that night all I could see was flickering lights from the city below and could not make out what's what at all.
 In search of the best spot to take a memory shot, I found this one.

Hotel Senator, Tirana
After the visit to Dajti Viewpoint, I checked into Senator Hotel. My tour group was scheduled to check out and leave for Montenegro early the next morning. Is that all I could see of Tirana? Determined to see more of it I decided to do a self walking tour before checking out the next morning. 

Related Posts: Click To View
Balkan Travel Pt 1: [ Romania] Bucharest Sightseeing
Balkan Travel Pt 2: [Romania] Bucharest Walking Tour
Balkan Travel Pt 3: [Romania] Peles Castle , Dracula's Castle & Romanian Scenery
Balkan Travel Pt 4: Bulgaria Attractions
Balkan Travel Pt 5: [Bulgaria] Sofia Attractions
Balkan Travel Pt 6: [North Macedonia] Skopje A City Of Mutifarious Statues
Balkan Travel Pt 7: [North Macedonia] Memorable Moments In Skopje
Balkan Travel Pt 8: [North Macedonia] Ohrid Photo Gallery
Balkan Travel Pt 9: [Albania] Glimpses Of Albania and Its Capital City Tirana
Balkan Travel Pt 10: [Albania] Walking Tour Of Tirana
Balkan Travel Pt 11: Montenegro Scenic Drive
Balkan Travel Pt 12: The Charms Of Koto Montenegro
Balkan Travel Pt 13: [Montenegro] The Old Town Of Kotor Photo Gallery
Balkan Travel Part 14: [Croatia] The Charms Of Dubrovnik
Balkan Travel Pt 15: [Croatia] The Old Town Of Dubrovnik
Balkan Travel Part 16: [Croatia] The Elaphiti Islands Of Dubrovnik
Balkan Travel Part 17: [Croatia] Plitvice National Park Photo Gallery
Balkan Travel Part 18: [Croatia] Rastoke Villagel

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