Shkodra, the gateway to Albanian Alps

Shkodra, it is one of the oldest cities in Albania. Labeat tribe of Illyrians founded the city, and named it Scodra in the 4th century B.C.

Shkodra has been occupied several times throughout history. First, by the Romans (168 B.C.), then the Serbians (1040), the Venetians (1396), and finally by the Ottomans (1479).
The city returned to Albanian control as the feudal principality of the Balshaj during the 14th century. At the time, it served as the municipal center of the Bushatllinj Pashallëk from 1757 to 1831.

Shkodra is very rich in cultural heritage. The people of Shkodra bear pride in the large number of artists  born here. Shkodra’s main tourist attraction is Rozafa Castle. Rising majestically upon a rocky hill, the outcroppings and battlements paint a blazing picture against the setting sun.

The waters of three rivers the Drini, Buna, and Kiri surround it. Much like the town it protected, the castle has Illyrian origins. According to the historian Tit Livi, it was the strongest area of the Labeats.

A Legend

Similar to ancient works, the castle comes with a popular local legend. Rozafa was the name of the bride of the youngest of three brothers who originally built the castle. The three men worked tirelessly by day laying mortar and stone but the walls always crumbled overnight.

Consulting a wise man, they learned that to expel the evil attacking at their daily work they would need to make a strong decision. It had a condition: one of their wives needed to be entombed within the walls. The brothers made a heart-wrenching pact not to alert their wives to this danger. Whoever brought her husband his noon meal the following day would be sacrificed. The elder brothers broke their word however, and it was Rozafa alone who came with food. When she heard the proclamation, she wept for her newborn son and husband. However, she allowed herself to become a living part of the walls for the castle could be built.

According to both legend and local folklore, the calcareous water flowing at the entrance of the castle is the milk flowing from one of her breasts, which she requested be left exposed so that she could feed her baby. She also pleaded for one foot and one arm to be left free. This was in order to rock her son’s cradle at night and sooth him during the day.


Historians tell us a less enchanting and more scientific background of the castle’s characteristics. It reflects the dominion of the Balshaj family but passed through enough other ruling periods. Each left their own signs and markings on the grounds. They include a distinct Venetian flare, Ottoman architecture, and even a few modifications from the Bushatllinj family.

Within the castle walls is a museum where a discerning lover of antiquities could spend a comfortable afternoon. There you can read more about its history. A restaurant welcomes visitors to showcase local food and traditional dress.

Shkodra is one of the most important cities of Albania. Moreover it is also the center of Albanian Catholicism, Culture and Harmony between different religions.

Marubi National Museum of Photography

You can visit the renewed Marubi National Museum of Photography famous for its large and rare collection of photos over Albanian history. The new museum, projected by the architectural studio Casanova + Hernandez, has been designed as a space which promote the precious dialogue between tradition and modernity, past and present. The heritage and tradition are emphasized by means of the restoration project of the historic building designed by Kole Idromeno – Albanian artist and architect, former student of Pietro Marubbi – while preserving its structural features.

The new museum extends its functions beyond the walls, in the pedestrian area of the city, through an exhibition structure located in front of its entrance, conceived as a connecting element which enables the open and living model of the museum to act as the cultural marker for the city of Shkodra. The set of programs proposed by the museum are an active mechanism for the promotion of the values of its cultural heritage in the city and beyond.

The dynamics of the museum’s activities has consistently attracted the interest of visitors, researchers and curators at home and abroad since its opening. The prestigious award, European Museum of the Year EMYA 2017 shortlisted the Marubi Museum among the nominated finalists.

More sights

Besides the Museum, you take a tour at Pedonalja so called Kole Idromeno Street that is the old center of Shkoder, very Mediterranean taste passing through mosques and churches.

The lake of Shkodra is a great attraction to bath, or to eat some of the best dishes of Albanian cuisine like Krap ne tave typical for this region.

The Theatre Migjeni represents also a chance to see and admire concerts or performances depending by the season.

Art House of well known contemporary artist Adrian Paci is house for all the events, conferences and exhibitions related to the contemporary art world.

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