Tirana is the capital city of Albania and the largest city in Albania, with a population of roughly 500,000 people. It is considered to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the world today. With many interesting sights such as the Et’hem Bey mosque, mother of Mother Teresa’s house and more, Tirana has much to offer tourists looking for a new destination. Read on to learn some interesting facts about Tirana.
The origin of Tirana’s name is a mystery, as the historian cannot agree on one history behind Tirana name.
One says that that name Tirana comes from the old Greek word for dairy, ‘tyros’, on the hypothesis that it was in a field there were shepherds of nearby areas gathered to trade dairy products, other that comes from its fortress Tarkan (Tiranë), located on the slopes of Dajti mountain.
Whatever the origin, we really don’t know, but for sure, the first time Tirana was mentioned in the Venetian document in 1418.
History of Tirana
General Sylejman Pasha Bargjini founded the city of Tirana in 1614. At this time, it was a small town that flourished around the Old Mosque and the türbe (Muslim shrine). The urban legend says that he ordered to build a mosque, bakery and hammam (bathhouse) to attract new residents.
Because of the positions on the caravan crossroads, the town grew in size. After Albania proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, Albania needed new capital, and it was decided in 1920 that Albania will be the new capital. The earlier capital in medieval times was Kruje.
King Zog I hired Austrian architects (Weiss and Kohler) who did the first regulatory city plan and Italian architect Castellani – who designed Skanderberg Square -the city square and the current heart of Tirana.
The statue of Albanian National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderberg (who led a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire) was placed on the 500th anniversary of his death in 1968.
The Skanderberg square had as well for few years the statue of Albanian Dictator Enver Hoxha but in February 1991, during got destroyed by students.
Comunism time in Tirana
During Communism, From 1944 to 1991, it experienced ordered development, but with a decline in architectural quality. The city was massively redeveloped during the communist era, with socialist-style apartment complexes and factories being built. It was at this time, when the main square – Skanderbeg Square was redesigned, with many buildings being demolished. For example, Tirana’s former Old Bazaar and Orthodox Cathedral were destroyed to make way for the Soviet-style Palace of Culture.
Only the Clock Tower and Et’hem Bey Mosque survived and stayed as reminders of the city’s Ottoman past
It is hard to imagine a time when there were no cars in Tirana, but during the communist regime of Albania private car ownership was banned.
Bunkers in Tirana
The Albanian government, under the rule of Enver Hoxha, has ordered to build over 173,000 bunkers around Albania and in Tirana for the people to get refuge in the case when NATO or any other neighbour country them. It never happened, but under the regime of Hoxha, grow poorer, and the grey concrete mushroom bunkers are the sad remains of the past. In Tirana, bunkers got adopted as a museum of terror – showing the reality of life in Tirana during communism.
The climate in Tirana
Tirana’s climate is Mediterranean type. The average daily high temperature in summer is around 28 degrees Celsius, and for winter, it is 14 degrees.
The climate in Tirana can be summarized as the typical warm Mediterranean, so you should expect hot summers and cold winters with chilly rain during the winter months.
The average annual temperature in Tirana is 58.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 14.8 degrees Celsius. The city sees on average 1136 millimetres of rain per year, which is almost twice more than London (690 mm)
What to see in Tirana ?
Bunk’art museum is located in Tirana’s suburb. The museum features some of the bunkers built during the Enver Hoxha dictatorship period. The place is run by volunteers who offer visitors various information and stories about Albanian history.
Burkart 2 offers a chance to get in touch with the past of Albanians. The tunnels showing the photographs showing the difficult life under the dictatorship of Hoxha life are impressive as they stretch on for kilometres underground and scary.
Et’hem Bey mosque
The Et’hem Bey Mosque is one of the most beautiful buildings in Tirana, and it dates from 1789. Its name was given due to the bequest made by Hatixhe Zogolli, mother of Albania’s ruler at the time, King Zog
The mosque has been declared an Endowment (Vakf) and is used as a museum today.
European Union square
European Union square was opened to the public in 2012 as part of a project that aims to refurbish the Skanderbeg Square.
It is a new square in Tirana, which make it more beautiful as a whole. It is similar to the Square of Martyrs in Paris.
National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art was founded in 1954. The museum’s 19th-century paintings include scenes of daily life in Albania. Some depict more political themes in the social realism style.
The gallery has many paintings of great art artists from Albania, such as Sotir Kolea, Kolë Idromeno, Asdrat Shkreli, Petraq Qenollari, Vangjush Mijo, Guri Madhi, and Maks Velo.
Tirana has many great pubs and bars where you can have a good time. Skanderbeg Square is our favourite place to go have a drink and hang out with friends.
Blloku district Tirana
Blloku is a district in Tirana, Albania. Blloku got its name back in 1980 when Hoxha had suddenly decided to move his private apartment from the centre of Tirana to the western part of the city. The whole area was then cordoned off with barbed wire and only communist nomenclature.
Since 1992 it is known for its nightlife and trendy restaurants. It is also where all the foreign embassies are located in Tirana.
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