Tirana is the capital city of Albania and there has been a human presence here since the Iron Age, although as a city it began to flourish during the second decade of the 17th century. However, the story of the modern city of Tirana doesn’t really begin until 1991 following the revolutions that took place in that year resulting in the fall of communist rule in the country.

Enver Hoxha was the communist politician who led Albania as its Prime Minister for four decades following the abolition of the monarchy and the ousting of King Zog, and concentrated on rebuilding the country out of the ruins that were left behind after the Second World War.

However, following the Revolutions of 1991 the deprived residents of Tirana were astonished to see the Biloku quarter for the first time in over 35 years following the lifting of the heavy police cordon that had been there all that time, protecting the communist elite in villas that were opulent enough to impress most people.

Rinia Park, Tirana, Albania - Wikimedia Commons
Rinia Park, Tirana, Albania – Wikimedia Commons
Best time to visit Tirana:Anytime but avoid high Summer and the pollution that goes with it.

Tirana has been on the road to recovery and modernity ever since. Under Hoxha, only 700 vehicles were permitted on the streets of Tirana. Now there are over 300,000. The once oppressive and drab frontages of public buildings have now been painted vibrant colours and with the bulldozing of old falling down shacks and the opening of new public parks the rebuild has been happening so quickly, some of the streets still don’t have names.

Things to See and Do in Tirana

  • See the mosaic on the facade of the National History Museum called ‘The Albanians’
  • The Et’hem Bey Mosque which was built between 1789 and 1821
  • Tanner’s Bridge and its elegant stone arches which span the Lana
  • Cable car to the top of Mt Dajti
  • The Pyramid – the international Centre of Culture

Biloku is now full of shops, bars and cafes which sometimes still struggle for gas and electricity and although there is still a long way to go to complete the journey from poverty to prosperity, this Mediterranean city is a fantastic place for visitors, mainly due to the warmth and hospitality of its people.

Street Cafe in Tirana, Albania - Wikimedia Commons
Street Cafe in Tirana, Albania – Wikimedia Commons
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