The city of summer festival, Elbasan
Elbasan is located near the capital of Albania, Tirana. Now old center of the city of Elbasan is represented by the castle district (Kala), where you can still admire the old city walls. The city is known for its ancient origins dating back to Illyrian time. In August 2010 archaeologists discovered two Illyrian graves near the walls of the castle. However, those walls were built on the ruins of the Roman and Byzantine fortifications by the sovereign Ottoman Mehmet II. It was Mehmet II which gave the city the name of Eli-Bashan (“I put the hand”). He had built the castle in order to fight Skanderbeg, due to an ongoing conflict between the Ottomans and Albanians.
In 2003 a project was started to recover the old fortress, today successfully completed, and it has returned to its former city walls. You may see the corner towers guard along the perimeter, as well as the towers of the curtain and the fortified entrance.
Inside the fortress you can see the Royal Mosque, dated back to the fifteenth century, the Orthodox Church of St. Mary, built in 1650, and the Byzantine Church.
The city is one of the cultural capitals of Albania and it houses several museums.
Did you know that Elbasan is home for the Summer Festival in Albania? Every year on March 14th, visitors from all around the country, celebrate Dita e Veres – Summer Day in Elbasan. The origin of this day is linked with a pagan tradition, in which Zana Malit, the goddess of hunting. All of nature would emerge from her temple on the outskirts of Elbasan every year on the 14th of March. Like many springtime festivals, the Summer Day festival symbolizes rebirth and renewal. The traditional desert of this festival it is known with the name of ‘ballokume”. You should definitely try it.
Museums of Elbasan
There is a museum dedicated to Alexander Xhuvani, located in the north of the fortress. It is where was born and grew up. Xhuvani was very active in politics, culture, linguistic and education, becoming one of the figures the Albanian national revival.
Also in the center, a building from the eighteenth century houses the Ethnographic Museum, created in 1982, which preserves the archaeological heritage of the houses of Elbasan. The Albanian education is finally represented and glorified through the School Museum.
Theatre Skampa is also a good reason to see concerts and theater pieces depending on the season .
How to get to Elbasan
Reaching Elbasan is not difficult: the city is about 40 minutes far from Tirana, reachable by car or bus.
The town’s economic activities include timber processing, engineering works, and the production of cement, soap, and olive oil. Cërrik, a few miles to the southwest, has a petroleum refinery.