Tirana

Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a famous Janissary of the Ottoman Empire of the Albanian origin from Mullet, established the city of Tirana in 1614, capital of the strategic and economic position at the heart of Albania, in the beautiful setting between the ranges of Dajti Mountain /reachable by the Dajti Express cable car/ and the Adriatic coastal plains. The first constructions of Sulejman Pasha were a mosque, a bakery and a hammam (Turkish bath). A statue of Sulejman Pasha Bargjin stands in the square named after him in Tirana downtown.

Tirana has been the capital of Albania since 1920. The city of Tirana began to develop and grow at the beginning of the 18th century, especially with the spread of Islam. Well known architects of the Mussolini period in Italy, Florestano de Fausto and Armando Brasini were the masterminds which built the main square in Tirana that today bears the name of Albanian National Hero Scanderbeg, the huge boulevard, ministry buildings, national bank, the town hall and the Palace of Brigades (the former Royal Palace, today Presidential Palace). In the meantime, Italian architect Gherardo Bosio was asked to elaborate on previous plans and introduce a new project in the area of present-day Mother Teresa Square in Tirana. The “Mother Teresa” Square is the end of the long boulevard that during the Italian occupation was supposed to shape Tirana’s new fascist identity, supported by the puppet government of Albania. The town of Tirana was liberated on the 17 November 1944, after a fierce battle between the Communists and German forces when communists seized power. After fifty years of communist parades and features, following the visit of the Pope Francis in 2014 the Scanderbeg Square – the main highlight of Tirana experienced full restoration and got its role of the central pedestrian zone of the Albanian capital.

Inheritance of the administrative tasks on the territory of present Albania and in Metohija in Kosovo was the common phenomenon within the same families, due to the Porte decision of very flexible policy of relaying on local landlords and respect for tribal autonomy after conquest of those territories. Thanks to the relationship of the Porte to Arbanas population, ever-since the beginning of the 19th century the Mirdita clan experienced autonomy on the territory from Liesa to Tirana, paying tribute and not allowing the Imperial army to their territory. The ruling pashalik family of Bergini administrated Tirana and the surroundings since the 17th century, while in Vlora-Valona-Flora and Devlin areas ruled the descendants of the Sinan pasha. In 1689 the Suleyman pasha of Skhoder got order to assemble the army in the sanjaks of Ohrid, Valona and Elbasan. In the same year, in the sanjaks of Shkoder and Elbasan there was a seymen /armed infantry mercenary charged with guarding the lord/ mobilized on every two arvanite houses. There were 2000 mercenaries in 1738 mobilized for Beograd /today Berat/ from Djakovica and Dukadjini areas. Because of the Uprising in 1687 the Porte banned Christians to engage in martolozi service. Until the end of the 18h century, the family of Mahmudbegovići Begoli became undisputed lords of the sanjaks /administrative unit in the Ottoman Empire/ of Pec and Dukadjini, having in possessions large number of chitluks /large land possession/ in their territories and out of it, and managed large number of mercenaries and administrated or possessed right to collect nearly all state taxes. The Imperial rule in the areas under their control was very weak. 

Today Tirana is not only the most populated and vibrant city in Albania, but also the biggest political and economic center in the country. In central Tirana, on Scanderbeg square there is the old mosque of Ethem Bey built during 1789 – 1823 as well as the Clock Tower, 35 meter high, built in 1830. The exterior wall paintings of the Ethem Bey mosque in Tirana are of outstanding artistic quality and historic value. The Tanners Bridge is elegant Ottoman stone footbridge which once served as the main connection between Tirana and the highlands to the east. It was used to get agricultural produce and livestock across the Lana River to the markets and sits in the traditional area of skinners and leather workers.

The Skanderbeg Square is the main point of Tirana, from which its main streets radiate providing quick and easy access to the most important attractions and institutions of the Albanian capital. The Palace of Culture housing the Opera and Ballet Theater and National Library are set next to the main square of Tirana. In Tirana there are also other important institutions such as the National Historical Museum, Archaeological Museum, The Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of Albanian Philately, the National Gallery of Fine Arts, the Center of International Culture etc. One can enjoy the best view from the “Martyrs Cemetery” which contains the “Mother Albania” monument. Tirana offers a rich traditional cuisine in numerous restaurants and cocktail bars and a variety of foreign cuisines, from Italian to Chinese, or even Indian. The famous Blok” area of Tirana is place rich in playing all kinds of live music, including jazz, house, funk, Latin, etc.

The Adriatic sea and Dajti mountain are near to the city of Tirana. It takes you less than an hour of drive to reach the sea. A Great Park with an artificial lake is located immediately at the southern part of the Albanian capital making it one of the greenest towns in the Balkans. From visitors point of view, Tirana is still cheap and affordable compared to western European capitals.

Petrela Tower is one of the oldest structures in Tirana. The Petrela tower in the center of the stronghold was built in the 5th century AD, although most of the remaining parts are Byzantine dating from between the 11th and 14th centuries. Nowadays Petrela Tower in Tirana houses restaurant from where visitors can admire beautiful view while tasting delicious food.

 

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