Shkodra, the traditional centre of the Gheg cultural region, is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The ancient Rozafa Fortress has stunning views over Lake Shkodra, while a concerted effort to renovate the buildings in the Old Town has made wandering through Shkodra a treat for the eyes. Many travellers pass through here between Tirana and Montenegro, or en route to the Lake Koman Ferry and the villages of Theth and Valbona, but it’s worth spending a night or two to soak up this pleasant and welcoming place before hurrying on to the mountains, the coast or the capital.
With spectacular views over the city and Lake Shkodra, the Rozafa Fortress is the most impressive sight in town. Founded by the Illyrians in antiquity and rebuilt much later by the Venetians and then the Turks, the fortress takes its name from a woman who was allegedly walled into the ramparts as an offering to the gods so that the construction would stand.
“Marubi” National Photography Museum
Since moving to brand new premises on the pedonalja (pedestrianised Rr Kolë Idromeno) in 2016, the Marubi Museum has sealed its reputation as Albania’s best photography collection. Here you can find the impressive work of the Marubi ‘dynasty’, Albania’s first and foremost family of photographers, as well as high-quality temporary exhibits. The collection includes the first-ever photograph taken in Albania, by Pjetër Marubi in 1858, as well as fascinating portraits, street scenes and early photojournalism, all giving a fascinating glimpse into old Albania.
This is Shkodra Historical Museum and in the past, it has been house of the national hero Oso Kuka. You will find here everything about the antiques of Shkodra.
Locals walk, pedal or drive to the little villages on the south shore of Shkodra lake. If they dont have a lot of time they go there for a coffee, but mostly is a place they go for lunch to eat carp fish. A lot of restaurants on the lake will serve fish, and Shkodra lake is known for “tave krapi”.
The cathedral is an imposing structure with beautiful symetry and ceiling in a peaceful location. There’s a big piazza outside. It’s very central and easy to locate. Entrance to the church via the Diocesan Museum at the back of the building in the old Sacristy. Stunning ceiling. Just another unbelievable story of the church being used as a sports facility during the ‘atheist times’.
Known more commonly to locals as the Great Mosque, this impressive centrepiece to the city actually dates from the 18th century, but was fully renovated and refaced in 1995 with donations from Saudi Arabia. Visitors are welcome to enter outside prayer time to see the beautiful interior and enjoy the contemplative atmosphere.
The largest and best preserved bridge from the Ottoman Empire in Albania, Mes Bridge (Ura e Mesit) crosses the Kir River about 6 kilometers North of Shkodër in the village of Mes. Built about 1770, the 108 meter long bridge is not only historic, but stunningly beautiful.
Situated along the ancient trade route between Shkodra and Kosovo, Romans, Venetians, and many other powers used this route to visit highly important route through the Drini Valley.
Beneath the bridge, the incredibly blue waters of the Kiri River wind their way from the mountains to the Buenë. Children swim beneath the bridge in Summer, not a bad way to cool off under the hot Albanian sun.
Taking a boat ride on Koman Lake makes you feel so tiny next to the huge mountains around you. The views are absolutely stunning and you cannot get tired of them. It’s the nicest way to go if you are headed to Valbona in the mountains.
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