The capital of Albania, Tirana has been torn by turmoil, conflict, poverty and poor tourism numbers for years. Mark visited in March of this year and said it was “very weird, but cool” and “not many people spoke English, but there was lots of colour everywhere“.
A centuries old Ottoman era bridge is overshadowed by a 80’s style apartment block, void of the usual advertisment placard on the side of the building.
The newer side of Tirana. Complimenting pastel coloured residential buildings are dotted with air conditioner units.
From these photos, you can get an idea of the juxtaposition that exists between the Fascist, brutalist grey architecture and the newer, more colourful buildings. A situation synonymous of countries escaping the burden of former oppressive regimes of the past 50 years.
The Peace Bell, made from over 10,000 shell casings from the issues in the 1990s in Albania.
Formally a museum to the tyrant dictator Enver Hoxha, the bizarre looking Piramida is now the International Centre of Culture.
Right now, Tirana is undergoing a massive redevelopment phase to make it more accessible to visitors. New signage is popping up, a tourism information centre is open t0 help you get your bearings and more hostels and hotels are being built to cater for business and leisure travellers alike.
Tirana, to me, appears to be the kind of formally seldom explored city that has become a destination for those European galavanting old-hands that think they’ve covered it all. The former Yugoslavian area around Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo is still a bit of mystery, and cities like Tirana are becoming the new, edgier places to explore and push yourself further in the region.
Have you visited Tirana or plan on visiting? What are you looking forward to or what did you enjoy about this lesser known city?