Tuesday, 5 November 2013

What's in Tirana, the capital of Albania

From the old town of Kruje, we drove into the busy traffic of big town Tirana, the capital of Albania. As expected, communist era buildings predominated.  We stopped at a family-run restaurant for what we thought was a simple Albanian lunch but it turned out lunch was the Albanian main meal of the day.  Please visit Foodsparks for more details on this lunch.

As time was running out after the leisurely lunch, we had to make a decision between what we wanted to see and had time for in Tirana.  Everyone agreed the Mosque would be interesting (some would say it was the only real sight in Tirana) as well as the art gallery.  Our guide couldn't understand why we would want to see the art gallery as in his opinion, it was full of communist propaganda - well, it was precisely the reason why we wanted to see it.  It turned out to be the highlight of our afternoon in Tirana.

Traffic jam in Tirana - apparently a constant

Satellite dishes alternating with air conditioners on most buildings

In 1967, over two thousand churches, mosques and other religious institutions were closed, destroyed or converted to other uses by the Communist regime; statutes guaranteeing religious freedoms were annulled.  A new post-communist era saw a brand new Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection completed in 2012, built by the Albanian government for the Orthodox community.  

Interesting facade
Talking about crossed wires!

Where we had lunch

Polytechnic University of Tirana - the front lawn commemorate Mother Teresa who was an Albanian

Completed in 1923, Et'hem Bey Mosque in Skanderbeg Square was closed during the Communist era;  it reopened in 1991 without authorization.  10,000 people attended but incredibly, the police did not intervene.  This was a milestone in the rebirth of religious freedom in Albania.

Frescoes in the mosque depicts trees, waterfalls and bridges - apparently very unusual in a mosque

Men prayed in the main room, women only were allowed upstairs

Women had to climb up these steep stairs to get to their prayer loft

The women's section were at the top of the spiral staircase behind a closed door.  Men were not allowed past the door.

The National Museum 

The National Art Gallery - there happened to be a visiting Henry Moore exhibit but running short on time, we headed straight for the contemporary gallery, the reason why we came.

The worker as superman in sculpture and in paintings

Heroic worker poses

Intriguing subject - guns and children

This was one of many pictures depicting women workers in various occupations

A trio of wood sculptures by the renowned Albanian sculptor Halim Beqiraj
A closeup of one of the sculptures - Portrait of a highland woman - my favourite
Next post: Durres


  1. A bit disappointed you did not include a picture with Mother Teresa's statute. It was as humble as her life story went. I am surprised the Albanians did not memorialize her in a more conspicuous way, even the guide only mentioned her in passing. - Lorna

  2. Where was Mother Teresa's statue? I don't see one in my photos and don't even recall seeing the statue. I did recall the guide mentioning her name marked by greenery in front of the Polytechnic University of Albania and the picture is on this post.