Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania. It lies on the river Ishëm, 32 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea.
The city was established in 1614 by Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a native feudal lord, but the area had been populated since the Paleolithic times. More recently, Tirana was made a temporary capital of the independent Albania on February 8, 1920, and was made the permanent capital on December 31, 1925.
Tirana is a charming, colorful, leafy town with a vivid nightlife. It is slowly shedding its communist-era appearance and is undergoing large-scale renovations. Many of the city’s dull buildings were painted in bright colors, under the initiative of the mayor Edi Rama. The city’s history is reflected in relics from an Ottoman, Italian and communist past, where minarets rub shoulders with socialist murals.
Tirana has a typical Mediterranean climate. It has hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. July and August are the hottest months when temperatures can reach around 31° C. January and February are the coldest months when temperatures can plunge as low as 2° C. Most precipitation falls in October.
January average temperature 5 deg Celsius 155 mm rainfall February average temperature 6 deg Celsius, 145 mm rainfall March average temperature 8 deg Celsius, 114 mm rainfall April average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 97 mm rainfall May average temperature 16 deg Celsius, 104 mm rainfall June average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 69 mm rainfall July average temperature 22 deg Celsius, 38 mm rainfall August average temperature 22 deg Celsius, 41 mm rainfall September average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 66 mm rainfall October average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 102 mm rainfall November average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 175 mm rainfall December average temperature 7 deg Celsius, 163 mm rainfall
The massive Skanderbeg Square is Tirana's main square plaza. It was built with support from the Soviet communists, but when the Soviet-Albanian relationship deteriorated, the money also stopped. This left the square unfinished and the Chinese were called in to finish the job. Today the square features several historic buildings such as the red-brick National Bank and the Et’hem Bey Mosque. The National History Museum and clock tower are also in this area. In the square stands a statue of the Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg who is revered for having resisted the invading Ottoman Turks for over 30 years.
Et’hem Bey Mosque
The mosque was built in the 19th century and designed by the maker of the clock tower, Haxhi Et’he Bey and the interior boasts beautiful intricate designs. It survived the WW II bombings and the communist-era atheism campaign so the mosque is still functional today.
The tower was built in the early 19th century, and was designed by Haxhi Et’he Bey. Originally it featured a bell from Venice. During the bombing raids of WW II the clock was destroyed and was replaced by the current clock, which came from China. The top of the tower features an observation deck for a lovely panoramic view of the city.
The Church of the Holy Evangelist
This orthodox church is one of the few religious structures that survived the communists’ atheism campaign waged during the 1960′s. During this time places of worship were either destroyed or converted into public buildings.
Blloku is Tirana’s trendy neighborhood noted for its painted facades, shopping areas, trendy bars, elegant restaurants and the delicious coffee of its cafes.It is considered the playground of Albania’s newly rich.
The central market is the place to soak up the local atmosphere, browse fresh produce and get to know the culture. Do not forget to haggle!
National Museum of History
The museum features many of Albania’s best artifacts. Numerous archeological treasures can be seen here, many dating as far back as 100,000 BC. The exhibited items cover a vast time span, from ancient past up to the country’s communist era.
TICAB is the self described, “largest international art event in Albania, working with contemporary art as a tool to analyze our contemporary condition and as a critical voice in the social discourse.”
Albania is a very safe destination. Violent crime towards tourists is almost non-existent. It is, however, advisable to avoid traveling at night. Be vigilant with your personal belongings as occasional thefts are reported from hotels and public transport.
Drink only bottled water as tap water is not safe to drink.
Secure a comprehensive travel insurance including an emergency air evacuation, as medical facilities in Albania are in very poor condition.
If visiting during the wetter months, a yellow fever vaccine is a must.