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What To See In Tirana, Albania

May 31, 2008
Tirana is the capital of Albania, but as Albania is a small country its capital is also small and quite an easy place to get around in. Tirana is not Paris or Las Vegas, but it does have a number of charming attractions that will give you a good idea about the history and cultural tradition of this Balkan nation. Let's take a look at what is on offer in Tirana, Albania.

As Tirana is a capital one of the prominent features of the city are the ministry buildings housing the seats of the various sections of the Albanian government. They have a unique style which has been called "architechtonic" by some. They were built in the 1930's but they have been kept in good condition and look smart. In the post World War II period several newer buildings were introduced and these include: the Palace of Culture, the Palace of Congresses, the National Historic Museum and the Center of International Culture. All of these buildings are located in the center of this compact city and you can see them in a nice one-day stroll of the city center.

In the center of Tirana is the Skanderbeg Square. It is named after Albania's national hero who fought the Ottoman Turks. In the center of this square is an impressive equestrian statue of Skanderbeg.

Just across the street from the statue is the Mosque of Ethem Bey. It was constructed in 1789 and right next to it is a clock tower that was constructed in 1830. These two buildings are important in getting a feel for the history of Albania, and you can't miss them once you reach the center of the City.

Also in the main square is another impressive building housing the Museum of National History. On the front of this building is a huge "socialist realist" mosaic with marching workers, peasants and partisans. The mosaic depicts the history of Albania from the Illyrian period to the Second World War. Inside the museum you will find exhibits on the various periods of Albanian history. Although there are English signs, you will get more out of the visit if you go with an Albanian friend.

The Gallery of Art is also near the central square. It was looted during the turmoil of 1997 but it has made a comeback, especially since a former artist, Edi Rama, was elected the mayor of Tirana. It has a beautiful outdoor garden, and inside you will find some temporary exhibits and the permanent exhibition which features the socialist realist art from the communist period.

If you want to go deeper into the Albanian heritage there is an Archaeological Museum which has beautiful jewelry, pottery, arrowheads, animal statuettes and other artifacts from Albania's long history.

You will be surprised to find that Tirana has its very own pyramid. But it is not an ancient Egyptian monument. Popularly known as the Pyramid it is located on the main boulevard. It was built in 1988 as a museum for Enver Hoxha, the post-war communist dictator. It has since been turned into a night club and cultural center. The children of the city like to use the sloping sides of building as a giant slide, and on summer evenings the outside park and garden is filled with people enjoying a night out.

You will not find mind-boggling sights in Tirana, but it is an enjoyable and friendly place where you will feel comfortable and have a good time.
About the Author
Donald Nelson is a social worker and web developer currently residing in Albania. Visit his Hotels in Albania directory for information on visiting Albania.
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