Albania is a land to be loved. In this small Mediterranean country, virgin nature and cultural mysteries combine to create a unique sense of place. From the snow-capped mountains in the winter to the fields covered in spring by red poppies, Albania’s landscape is ever-changing with the seasons, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy a warm summer beach holiday or a mountain trek in the crisp and cool air of the fall. In Albania, visitors are welcomed as guests as part of the country’s rich cultural traditions and heritage. The warm hospitality of the Albanians, known worldwide, will make every traveler feel at home in this small wonderful land. There are many clean and pristine beaches, spectacular mountains, scenic river valleys, and many other natural surprises for visitors. Several of country’s main cities are situated along the pristine seashores of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. An important gateway to the Balkan Peninsula, Albania’s ever-growing road network provides juncture to reach its neighbors in north south, east, and west. Albania is within close proximity to all the major European capitals with short two or three hour flights that are available daily. Tourists can see and experience Albania’s ancient past and traditional culture.
The Albanian language is one of the oldest living languages in the world. Throughout the country there are newly discovered and exciting archaeological sites, preserved Illyrian and medieval castles, as well as Byzantine churches and monasteries which containa rich collection of frescoes and icons. Albanian cuisine offers a truly unique blend of Mediterranean flavors. “East meets West” in many discernable ways throughout Albanian culture, but this is nowhere more evident than in the cuisine. Representing a rich historical past, the food of modern Albania has been developed over millennium and reflects a variety of influences. Among the many typical dishes, visitors should not miss byrek, minced meat, vegetables, eggs and cheese in flaky pastry; tavëkosi, (traditional Albanian meal) – mutton baked in a dish with yogurt and eggs; tavëkorani,-a unique kind of trout found only in Lake Ohrid baked with nuts, sauce and onions; and pasha qofte, – a hot soup with meatballs, rice and eggs. Albania is well known for its “Scanderbeg” cognac, mentioned for its unique flavor and aroma. But the most popular and traditional of Albanian beverages is Raki. It is usually made from grapes, though there are also other kinds of raki made from plums, mulberries, and walnuts.
Tirana is the capital city and the largest in Albania with an estimated population of 700,000. It is the center of administrative, cultural and economic activities in the nation. Tirana is a comfortable city to walk around. Most visitors begin their itinerary at Skenderbeg Square, an attractive square in the center of the city. On the north side of the square is the national historical museum which features a mosaic of allegorical Albania through the ages. On the east side of the square is the House of Culture which includes a theater, several cafes and galleries. The architecture shows strong soviet influence.
Kruja is a medieval city. It is mentioned for the first time as an episcopal centre in 879. The Ottoman Turks invaded it twice in 1396 and in 1415. After the national heroe Skanderbeg returned from Turkey in 1443, Kruja became the symbol of the popular resistance against the ottoman occupation. It was then that Kruja got known to all Europe.
Durres is a city of 310 499 inhabitants, the most important, after the capital Tirana. Located on a peninsula, is the capital of the prefecture of the same name and the district of the same name. Its origin dates back to the seventh century BC as a Greek colony named Epidamnos.
Apollonia is an archaeological site on the right bank of the river Aoos, near the village of Pojan, in the current Albania. Apollonia was founded in 588 BC by Greek colonists from Kerkyra and Corinth, was probably the most important cities, including those known as Apollonia.
In 2008 the old town of Berat was added to the list of World Heritage Site, the museum city of Gjirokastra, as “a rare example of well-preserved Ottoman town.” According to UNESCO, Berat demonstrates the peaceful coexistence of different religions in the past centuries.