Albania is a small, mountainous country in the Balkan Peninsula, with a long Adriatic and Ionian coastline.With its natural beauty it took 20 years for the country to take off as a tourist destination since the end of a particularly brutal strain of communism in 1991. Albania offers a remarkable array of unique attractions, ancient mountain codes of behaviour, forgotten archaeological sites and villages where time seems to have stood still, stunning mountain scenery, a thriving capital in Tirana and beaches to rival any elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
TOP 8 PLACES TO VISIT
The unique building was competed not long before the fall of communism in 1987. Originally build as a museum to honour the countryâ€™s despotic dictator Enver Hoxha who ruled from 1944 â€“ 85. The museum retained its original purpose until 1991, it was then converted to a convention center that would eventually lead to its downfall. Except for a Albanian broadcast company operating there, the building is mainly unused.
Ideal for a fun family day out, the kilometer long cable-car taking you up by gondola to the dramatic mountain Tiranaâ€™s eastern edge. At the top there is a tourism complex with restaurants and hotels. The view over the city will be memorable, but there are also year-round activities on the table, including trekking and horseback riding in summer, and skiing in winter.
3.NATIONAL HISTORIC MUSEUM
With its complicated past, the museum is the place to visit to get a entry point to get some context of its history. The museum is organised by pavilions, each covering a different period in the regionâ€™s history, from ancient times up to the 21st century. The Pavilion of Antiquity exhibits a great collection of almost 600 archaeological items spanning the late-Palaeolithic to the early Middle Ages. The ancient mosaic from the 4th century BC is the most cherished treasure on exhibit.
4.ETâ€™HEM BEY MOSQUE
Completed in the early 19th century, the mosque is one of the cities top landmarks. This place of worship was one of the most remarkable events in Tiranaâ€™s recent history, when on the 10th of January 1991 10,000 people gathered to practise their religion, against the decree of the authorities who had banned Islam for almost half a century. The outer walls of this mosque are unusual as they depict idyllic scenery such as forests and waterfalls, which arenâ€™t normally permitted in Islamic art.
The clock tower goes back to 1822 and is one of the cities most photographed landmarks. You can go to the top with the narrow spiral staircase and take in the lovely vistas of Tiranaâ€™s city-centre. One of the features of the tower is its clock, which has been altered several times in buildingâ€™s history. First was a Viennese design, which was replaced by a German-style timepiece which was destroyed in the Second World War. After that there was one with Roman numerals that came down in the 70s in favour of the current Chinese clock.
The 1700s bridge displays Tiranaâ€™s Ottoman history, giving an impression of how the city went about its business in the years after its foundation. Today the bridge is used as a pedestrian bridge and kept as a monument to the days when it was the main route for farmers to bring their livestock into the butchery and leatherworking district. From the bridge you can also see the Tannersâ€™ Mosque, which was constructed by the Tannersâ€™ guild in the 1700s.
Bunkâ€™Art is an underground bunker that was constructed for Tiranaâ€™s communist-era politicians and military top brass in case of nuclear war. This bunker puts Albaniaâ€™s recent past into perspective. This extraordinary building has more than 100 rooms spread over five stories, including a meeting hall with 200 seats. The goal of the attraction today is to help people come to terms with a troubled period in the countryâ€™s history, but will enthuse people who enjoy Cold War-era installations and communist design.
This 15th century fortress stand high over the city northwest of the city. Originally built and belonged to the feudal Thopia family whose estates covered the area between the Shkumbin and Mat Rivers. In earlier days the structure would have been an outpost built to defend the area against bandits. The pentagonal-shaped castleâ€™s value now lies in its intact walls and towers, including a clock tower that was installed in the 1800s. Visitors can see the far-reaching panoramas over the plain and the mountain range behind it from the battlements.
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT
Most travel is conducted by bus; the vehicles are usually fine, fares are cheap, and the roads are being improved.
The best time to visit Albania is summer, when the weather is typically warm and dry, while winter is usually fairly mild and wet. Temperatures can vary quite a bit from one region to the next â€“ the western half of the country, for example, is generally milder â€“ but are rarely that extreme.