Shkodra, this 2500-year-old ancient city, is one of the most prominent civic centers of Albania and the Balkans, known as the traditional center of Albanian culture.
Feeling the crash of the waves of Shkodra Lake at her feet and feeling the gurgling of the Buna, Drin and Kiri rivers in her chest, with one hand resting on the battlements of the legendary Rozafa castle and the other on the Albanian Alps, Shkodra offers you beauty natural virgins that you rarely find anywhere else in the world.
Over the centuries, Shkodra, apart from its thirst for freedom and independence, has affirmed inalienable values in the field of culture and art, traditions which have come with their beauty to our days.
Shkodra has an area of 2558 km 2 and is located 90 km from the Alps and at the same time right next to the sea (only 32 km), not even 40 km from the Port of Shengjin. This natural complex harmonizes coastal, mountain, maritime and commercial transit tourism.
This natural wealth has attracted the attention of many local and foreign scientists, who have devoted a lot of studies to it.
In Shkodër you can enjoy not only the beautiful nature, but also the history, culture, customs and way of life.
The earliest traces of human activity discovered in the Shkodra basin belong to the Middle Paleolithic period, but starting from the Bronze Age, they have an intense and uninterrupted presence.
This territory was inhabited by the Illyrian tribe of Labeats, skilled navigators and traders. It was the trade exchanges with other areas that led to the establishment of the city of Shkodra, as an Illyrian market and settlement. Thus, since the 4th century AD this Illyrian city, which was known in history as Scodra, Scobre, Skodrai, Skodre, Skydreonopolis-today Shkodra, begins its life.
Various invasions have interrupted its development, often destroying it from its foundations, but Shkodra has also risen from the ashes. In almost five centuries of the Ottoman occupation, the splendor of the city faded, but in the c. XVII will again be an important, not only administrative, but also economic center of Albania. In this period there were 1,800 houses and 25,000 inhabitants and it gradually became an important cultural center. The first cultural institutions in our country were born in Shkodër. In 1858, the Marubi family of photographers started work, then the first printing presses were built, the first musical band was created, and in 1879 the first theatrical performance in the Albanian language was given, the first literary, cultural and sports societies were founded. In 1913 the popular secular school was opened and in 1922 the State Gymnasium, many cultural and sports societies, evidence of civilization in Albania.
In the years of great uprisings, 1910-1912, the people of Shkodra and the highlanders set the tone for the national movement.
The people of Shkodran took an active part in the fight for the liberation of the homeland from the Nazi invaders.
The 20th century also had a black and white picture for Shkodra. Freedom from occupiers conditioned by the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rise of a centralized economy that approached different scenes: development, stagnation and decline and an economic and spiritual impoverishment of the population that was dictated by the imported Marxist-Leninist ideology. That’s why Shkodra, which has always seen from the West, was the first to shake the country with its democratic movements and the first to give the blood of its best sons to our days.
Today, she has been able to bravely face the challenges of the transition period and offer change, which every day becomes more and more present in the lives of Shkodran citizens.
Its historical, natural and cultural resources will now be accompanied by economic and touristic developments, which must be recognized and further developed.
It is located at the southern entrance of the city, in a dominant position, surrounded by the rivers Buna, Drini, Kiri.
Legend has it that this castle was built by three brothers. In order for the edifice to stand, they were forced to wall up the younger brother’s wife alive, who agreed to sacrifice herself by asking that her right breast be left unwalled, to feed her baby, her hand to caress bent the cradle.
Archaeological excavations show that the castle is one of the early settlements of the Shkodra basin, inhabited about 4000 years ago.
Within the surrounding walls, it has an area of 4 ha. The system of secret, underground passages plays an important role in the fortification system. At all times “Rozafa” has stood as a powerful guard of the city.
The thousand-year-old castle underwent restoration in the 80s. It is 2 km away from the city center. You can drive to its gate, along a good road, partly paved and partly cobbled.
The Middle Bridge (Ura e Mesit)
It rises above the river Kir, near the village of Mes, about 6 km from the city of Shkodra. was built by Mehmet Pashë Bushati in the second half of the 18th century. The bridge is 108 m long, 3.4 m wide and consists of 13 stone arches. The largest arch has a span of 21.5 m and a height of 12 m. Until recently, it served to connect the city of Shkodra with Drishti.
Among the social constructions of medieval cities, baths occupy an important place. Such is the city’s hammam, right near its center, a public bath erected in 1793, with a fully functional scheme. The main part is the one with the dome, consisting of the undressing area, the sweating area, two others for washing and the water tank, under which the oven is placed.
It was built at the beginning of the 20th century. It is part of the museum area of the city. It preserves important values of the construction activity of the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century and is evidence of the economic development of the city for that period. From the urban point of view, it follows the classical scheme, creating parallel rows of buildings with compact construction blocks on its two wings. The plastic with which they are decorated is made through a combination of plaster work, stone carving and the use of brick with a decorative function.
In the middle of the 19th century in the city of Shkodra, houses with verandas with several variants (with verandas on the whole front and with verandas on one side) began to be built. They are simple, two-story, with an uninhabited ground floor. The layout of both floors is the same, the upper floor has three or four living areas (kitchen, bedroom and guest room). The room of friends is treated with special interest. In this house, as in that of Luigj Gurakuqi, Oso Kuka, Pashko Vasa, etc., the ceilings, rosettes, fireplace, trapazani, cupboards, patio door, etc. are skillfully crafted. The applications of wood as a decorative element present a rich wealth of motifs. These houses have courtyards surrounded by high walls.
Such apartments, in all variants, which are still preserved in our city, are valuable evidence to know the nature of the city and the social layers that were formed during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The museum is located in a characteristic residence, built around the last quarter of the 19th century, which preserves architectural and historical value, as it is the home of the People’s Hero, Oso Kuka.
The museum was built with the collections of the Museum of Jesuits and Franciscans (from the 1850s and 1890s), being constantly enriched with the various collections, occasional purchases and especially from Shkodra families, who have jealously and with a special appreciation preserved objects , documents and works of art. This considerable wealth counts about 2,700 objects and original relics, 5,000 mostly original documents, 40,000 valuable documents for the development of education, etc. Evidence is kept here to discover and recognize the civilization of yesterday and today.
Photo library “Marubi”
The city of Shkodra is the birthplace of photographic art in Albania. In 1858, the first photo was printed here, which is associated with the name Marubi. It developed almost at the same time as world photography, giving Albanian art a coherence with the face of a modern civilization.
In 1971, with the rich funds donated by the families of photographers of the Marubi, Pici, Jakova, Rraboshta and Nenshati tradition, the monumental and surprising archive of the “Marubi” photo gallery was created. In their focus is Shkodra, with the historical values it carries. There are thousands of portraits, compositions, landscapes, reports, etc., focusing on ordinary people, politicians, popular insurgents, painters, parts of urban planning, architecture, cultural monuments, etc.
A visit to the Art Gallery brings you closer to the culture of this city. It, in its funds, includes works by Shkodra authors and well-known Albanian authors, from the period of the National Renaissance until our days. Since 1970, the gallery preserves, protects and exhibits 700 paintings by traditional and contemporary artists.
The population of the city of Shkodra is homogeneous. There are more than 100,000 inhabitants. It achieved the most significant growth after 1960, as a result of natural growth, 18/00 of the population and the movement from the village to the city. The average population density reaches 135 inhabitants/km 2 . The average age of death is up to 70 years. The citizen population reaches 44%. Administratively, Shkodra is the center of the prefecture, which also includes the districts of Puka and Malësi e Madhe. The district of Shkodra has two municipalities and 16 municipalities under its administration; the rural area consists of 130 thousand inhabitants.
“Luigj Gurakuqi” University
It was founded on May 25, 1991 on the basis of the Higher Pedagogical Institute opened on September 2, 1957.
During these years, “Luigj Gurakuqi” University turned into a living cultural monument, a monument always in action, in the educational, scientific and cultural life, not only for the city of Shkodra, but for the entire country.
During the last years, the University, with new goals towards Europe, cooperates with many Austrian, Italian and American universities, which have made it possible for many pedagogues to get to know the Western experiences of teaching and scientific research. Only in the period 1993-2005, many pedagogues specialized, received the title of “master” and defended their diplomas in about 30 countries of Europe and America.
Albanians rightly call Shkodra the cradle of their culture. The first Albanian writers, such as Marin Barleti, Marin Bicikemi, Dhimitër Frangu, grew up and were formed in Shkodër. The first book in the history of Albanian literature “The Siege of Shkodra” was published by the humanist from Shkodran, Marin Barleti, in 1504. After five centuries of Turkish darkness, Pashko Vasa will be among the first who, with the hymn “O moj Shqypni”, will bring the messages of our National Renaissance and dedication to freedom.
In the 20s-30s of the 20th century, literature recognizes major figures such as Gjergj Fishta, Ndre Mjeda, Migjeni and Ernest Koliqi, who with their works reached contemporary levels in Balkan and European literature. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the later literary phenomena of a caliber such as Arshi Pipa and Martin Camaj, that they had their formation and first inspiration in this city, even though they developed their literary creativity far from their homeland, in the diaspora, in Italy, America and Germany.
The literature developed in Shkodër, as part of contemporary Albanian literature, is reflecting life in its movements with artistic dignity.
Shkodra is also known as the main center of Albanian music. In addition to popular orchestras, there were also large formations, the symphony orchestra and the city philharmonic, which professionally brought to our stages light and classical music, from the repertoire of local composers and from the fund of world music. At the beginning of the 20th century Shkodra had 26 pianos. Even the first symphonic concert was Shubert’s “Unfinished Symphony”. Precisely in Shkodër, in 1958, the first Albanian opera “Mrika” by composer Prenkë Jakova was staged.
Painting also has a rich tradition. The most prominent of the constellation of early painters is Kola Idromeno who, with his brush, brings moments from the life of the people, portraits of ordinary people and landscapes. Ndoc Martini presents himself as a painter with a modeled plastic spirit. Even in other painters of this period, current, ethnographic and folkloric life appears with interest.
Post-liberation painters and sculptors mainly refer to current themes. Portraits of Vladimir Jan, Jakup Keraj, Ismail Lulan, Danish Jukniu, Edi Hila, caricatures of Shtjefën Palushi, etc. have created prominent individuals in the field of new Albanian painting, winning national awards and international appreciation.
Shkodra is the city with the most traditions in the field of sports. Here, since 1918, the first football match (as an official activity) took place between the local “Juventus” and an Austro-Hungarian team. In the same year, the club “Vllaznia” was formed. In 1920, for the first time, in our country, cycling and athletic competitions were held in Shkodër. Palokë Nika stands out as the initiator of the sports movement.
There are dozens of athletes from Shkodra who, representing with dignity and a high spirit of competition the colors of their sports club, have excelled not only in trucks within the country, but also in the international arena. Among them stands out the name of Loro Boric, who managed to play in the first league of the Italian football championship, the great captain of the Balkaniad won by Albania in 1946, the former coach of the national football team in the 70s . Today, the city’s stadium, with a capacity of nearly 30,000 seats, bears the name “Loro Boriçi”.
The “Vllaznia” club, as a multi-sport club, has won several championships in football, basketball, women’s athletics, cycling, swimming, boxing, freestyle wrestling, classical wrestling, etc.
There are traditions. The first performance was given in 1879. Since the 20s of the last century, theater societies were created near the State Gymnasium, while in the 80s, Shkodra became the center of the amateur scene. The professional theater was created in 1949 on the basis of the amateur theater. The theater troupe has staged many works of the national and foreign repertoire, classical and contemporary authors. She is liked not only in Shkodër and Albania, but also in Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, where she has made successful tours for the Albanians there. Often, at national theater festivals, he has been honored with honorary awards.
In addition to the theater troupe, there is also a pop troupe, which, with its subtle humor, has become beloved by the locals. It stands next to the traditional humor of the Shkodra tables, beytas, carnivals that have given it the name “City of Humor”.
Prominent actors and directors have merged their talent on the stage of the “Migjeni” theater and have been immortalized, such as Zef Jubani who gave life like no other in Albania to Moliere’s Harpagon, Tinka Kurti, Tano Banushi, Adem Kastrati, Paulin Sekuj, Serafin Fanko, Zyliha Miloti, Zef Deda, etc., pop troupe singers such as Bik Ndoja, Ibrahim Tukiqi, Shyqyri Alushi, Bujar Qamili, etc.
Shkodra Tourist Center
The geographical coastal, lake and mountain environment, the cultural and historical wealth, the customs and traditions of this ancient civilization, are an offer full of cognitive interests in the field of tourism.
In the SW of the city of Shkodra, 30 km away, lies the beautiful beach of Velipojë, with a length of 14 km and a width of about 300 m, which creates many opportunities for tourist use. This coast is a pearl of Albanian nature, where the sea, river, beach, forest, lagoon and mountain are so harmoniously intertwined, with a rich and unused sand, clear water, with a hunting reserve. Velipoja is a new beach with curative values and favorable climatic conditions, where there are about 100 days with a temperature above 25°C.
If you prefer to rest on the beach of Velipoja, it brings you many opportunities for entertainment, there you can bathe, take a boat trip, hunt rabbits and wild pigs, pheasants and wild ducks, etc. For fishing enthusiasts, the sea and the river of Vilun near the beach offer fishing opportunities for bream and sea bass.
In the service of tourism, several hotels, cabins and many luxury houses with the necessary comforts have been built in recent years. The commercial network is at the required levels. Restaurants offer menus of European, traditional Shkodra cuisine and according to requests. Municipal, health and Post-Telecommunications services have also been organized. This beach is also used as a daily beach by the residents of the city and its nearby areas.
This reserve has an area of 694.5 km 2 . There are four large marshes. This reserve has 182 ha of pine and swamp poplar. Various kinds of ducks, especially red-headed ducks, are the object of hunting. In the forest you can meet various animals such as turtledoves, jackals, rabbits, jackals, foxes, etc. Swamps, vegetation and birds constitute one of the rare values in Albania. There they are kept calm, in a spontaneous, natural state.
The tourist village of Shirokë lies on the edge of Lake Shkodra, below the mountain of Taraboshi, only 7 km from the city. This old village is mentioned in written sources as early as the 15th century. It has excellent climatic conditions and is a recreation center. The fresh air, coming from the depths of the Alps, filters into the waters of the lake and comes healthy here, at the foot of the mountain of Taraboš. If you want to stay a few days, you will have available a hotel with the necessary comforts, some houses made available by the locals and restaurants and trade points. Shiroka brings you variations, you can go to the beach, go fishing, go boating and climb the mountain.
Municipal, health and commercial services are also present here.
At the foot of the mountain of Veleçik, about 41 km from the city of Shkodra, there is one of the most beautiful places with a healthy climate in the Alps, Razma. Here, in the midst of pines, lawns, alpine pastures and mountain landscapes, an alpine-type housing complex has been built. In these environments, visitors find suitable places for mountaineering excursions, sports matches, hunting, etc. In Razem, the presence of visitors is year-round, since, apart from summer, it is also very enviable in winter when everything is covered with snow.
The motorway, the necessary commercial network and restaurants are of a good standard.
NE of the city of Shkodra, about 80 km away, in the heart of the Alps, is the picturesque village of Theth. The road there winds through forests and stunning landscapes. Everywhere the eye sees nothing but ridges and peaks rising above narrow valleys, full of rapids and waterfalls. The special spiritual wealth, which the legends, legends and myths also talk about, are some of the special ethno-cultural assets, which are preserved and passed down from generation to generation, in these valleys and mountain slopes. Mountain eagles can be seen flying in the clear sky of Theth, where they also have nests, trouts move in the Shala river (such a special fish with a rare taste), while the slopes of the mountains are covered with centuries-old forests, where dozens of animals are sheltered wild, such as: bears, roe deer, marmots, wolves, foxes, wild goats and some of the most beautiful birds.
Thethi has the view of a pond 800 m above sea level. It is located among a crown of rugged peaks such as Radohima, Maja e Arapi, Maja e Ali, which stand out for their rare beauty in the entire Alps. The Shala river flows through the village, rapid, with abundant water, clear as crystal and cold as ice. Cataracts and waterfalls descend from the mountains with fury and noise. Thethi is the place of relief contrasts, waterfalls, dense vegetation, meadows and especially colors. It is worth taking a walk, where you will come across unusual sights. There you can see how in the middle of the forest you are in front of the meadows where the sun’s rays have made flowers bloom, which you cannot find in any other place. Thethi is characterized by forests, pastures and alpine and subalpine meadows. The National Forest Park has an area of 2300 ha. Nature has granted privileges to this alpine village. If you are an amateur of mountaineering, hunting wild animals or fishing, here you will find a wide field of action and entertainment.
Among other things, foreigners here are surprised by the traditional, thousand-year-old costumes of the locals. They are present especially on holidays. The customs and way of life of this province are so interesting.
Thethi is a virgin tourist spot. Attending it has no environmental problems, there is absolute tranquility. A small population lives there, notable for its traditional hospitality.
At the service of visitors are the hotels and houses provided by the locals. The commercial network, telecommunication and health center are present at all times.
If you want to take an unforgettable walk through valleys, canyons and unusual landscapes, sail on Koman Lake, which is located 30 km from the city. The lake was formed by the catchment of the Drin River, where the Koman Hydropower Plant with 600,000 kw/h was built. The lake has an area of 12 km 2 , length 34.5 km, width 50-60 m. Around the lake rise wooded mountains with a height of 1000-1200 m above sea level.
This region, apart from its touristic value, also preserves historical values. Nearby is the village of Koman, where a cemetery of the 6th-8th century AD was discovered, which is related to the culture of the early Albanian society.
In order to help tourists and locals, boats for passengers, cars and goods have been put into operation.
Vau i Deja lake
It is located only 23 km from Shkodra. It has an area of 24.7 km, with a maximum depth of 52 m, formed by the catchment of the river Drin in 1971, where the Vaut de Deja hydropower plant with 250 km/h was built. The lake is mesmerizing in beauty. When you pass through narrow mountain passes, forest banks or interesting karst phenomena, you feel happy.
The lake is also used for transport, fishing and tourism.
It is a rather large, rugged natural surface with high geomorphological and biological diversity. The beech and conifer forests are among the most beautiful in our country. Kelmendi is crossed by Cemi, one of the most beautiful rivers of our country. His trouts are of nam. The forests are populated by wild goats, roe deer, bears, and always above, in the clear sky, introduce the Albanians, who best personify this interesting area. Especially Lëpusha and Vermoshi preserve unique values and beauty; they are picturesque areas with great climatic and touristic values. The valley of Vermoshi is of glacial origin, where the alpine village of the same name is located. This region, with magnificent forests, green meadows full of flowers, is another alternative, which constitutes an attractive tourist factor.
Gastronomy also gives a good image of Shkodra. A large number of restaurants, pizzerias, buffets and hotels have been established in our city, where the culture of service is traditionally present. The art of taste is sensitive, but today the private economy is able to support and guarantee fresh natural foods and increase the level of tourism.
It is said that the gastronomy of the city of Shkodra has its origin from the Turkish one, but the millennial tradition has adapted the food with which it is presented on the table, so it has its own preferences and traditions of cooking and taste. “Kallmet” wine (winner of several international awards), grape brandy (a gift of quality grapes cultivated in the surrounding areas) as well as the traditional menu, are generally liked by foreigners, who try our taste. But our tables are not lacking in various specialties and the kitchens can also fulfill orders according to tastes.
Foreigners, who have tried the typical foods of the city, and, according to the requests, have been satisfied with their cooking and serving. You can also quickly give an opinion about them.