Albania and its main city capital, Tirana appears in the eyes of those who visit the city with a special charm, active, modern mentality and very lively from a cultural point of view. Located in the center of Albania, on the banks of the river Ishëm, the foots of picturesque mountains and at a relatively short distance from the Adriatic coast, Tirana is a charming city of about one million inhabitants and is surprising how few people they are, presents the city to visitors with enthusiasm and character. As witnessed by the various archaeological sites, the city has a long history although it was officially founded by the Turks until the early seventeenth century with purely military character, being at the center of a network of natural roads. The city began to grow at the beginning of the eighteenth century and in 1920 it was declared the capital of Albania.
Even it is situated close to the sea, their beaches are not crowded and have nothing more to envy to other Adriatic destinations, the city includes in its territory even Mount Dajti known for its shape of a "camel" and particularly for the many touristic attractions it offers. The mountain, known as the Balcony of Tirana, soars over the city offering an amazing view. It also deserves a special mention the nightlife of Tirana, the city in turmoil and that thrives on evenings and music, especially in the summer including bars, modern cooffes and restaurants , fitting all the level of peoples.
The city grew around the exponent Skanderbeg Square, on which overlook museums and important buildings.The square is the real heart of Tirana engine, and it is dedicated to Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeu, the Albanian hero who defeated the Ottomans, of which there is also a large equestrian statue. On the square stands the Clock Tower, one of the symbols of the city, also known as Kulla e Sahatit. Built around 1821-1822 by Et`hem Bey, the tower in 1928 was further raised to reach 35 meters in height, from which you can enjoy an extraordinary panorama of the city. Nearby is the Mosque of Etem Bei, the only mosque that has managed to survive the communist regime, which is surprising for the beauty and sophistication of the interior decorations. Its construction begun in 1789 by the turkish Molla Bey and finished in 1823 by his son Et'hem Beu. Tirana is full of fascinating monuments that tell pieces of its history.
Among these it is also the Fortress of Justinian, built in the sixth century, when Albania was still only a small part of the Byzantine Empire. Fortress remains today only a small wall about six meters high. As for this type of architecture, also its worth to visit the Petrela Castle, majestic medieval fortress built during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justianit I to control the Egnatia street and the Castle of Prèza, a small fortress, known for its beautiful location, built in the fifteenth century by the tribe of Parthini, a tribe of Illyrians legendary that rivaled Rome for the domination of these areas.
Walking through the streets of Tirana you can see several religious buildings, among them the majestic Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, and the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans. The cathedral was built between 2001 and 2012 as compensation for the destruction by the communist regime of the ancient cathedral in 1967. A particular beauty is its studded dome of a mosaic representing Christ Pantocrator created by Josif Droboniku. Among other religious buildings are: the Catholic Church of Santa Maria, built in 1865 by Emperor Franz Josef of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the Catholic Cathedral of St. Paul, whose structure, completed in 2001, has impressive stained glass window depicting Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II; and the Church of Kroit, that resisted both the Turkish domination that the dictatorial regime.
Besides the monuments and churches that offer a particularly interesting insight into the city, there are also several museums and cultural centers that truly are worth visiting. The main ones are: the Piramida, structure built in 1988 as a mausoleum dedicated to the Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, who, with the fall of the communist regime, became home to the International Centre for Culture; the Archaeological Museum, there were interesting artifacts found in the area around the city; the Art Gallery, which house as an extensive collection of works by the socialist period; the National Museum of History, in which you can admire the works that represent the history and culture of the country; and the Museum of Natural Sciences, amazing museum dedicated to the environment and to the local and national flora and faunes.