Chaos on the streets, roaring horns of cars, shabby pyramid and the smell of roasted chestnuts. In the capital city of Albania, Tirana, you can experience a journey through the communist past with a sweet-sour flavor of boza.
Tirana smells like apple and cherry flower or citrus - all depends on what time of the year you will come to visit it. The best choice would be to go during spring or autumn, because then the water in the sea is warm enough to be able to swim in it. The average temperature in summer ranges between 25-30ºC. Apart from the mountain peaks it’s almost always hot.
Boza and roasted chestnuts
The capital of Albania tempts with many attractions – apart from monuments it’s also worth to visit the marketplace. In this busy street corner you can buy not only "almost original" Rolexes, but also divinely scented olives, juicy watermelons or deliciously sweet pears.
Your taste buds will experience many blissful feelings as well. On the market you can buy unbelievably delicious and flavorful food, which will make you realize that eating can be a real celebration. Also, it’s worth mentioning that it’s impossible to visit Tirana and not try boza, which is a non-alcoholic drink with a sweet-sour taste and a bit murky consistency. It can be found in almost every cafe or confectionery - boza is a pride of the Albanian capital.
In the evening it’s worth to visit to the Youth Park and relax with a delicious cup of coffee in one of the many small restaurants and cafes. We will quickly notice that coffee is more popular here than beer. And during walks around the city center we can enjoy delicious roasted chestnuts, which can be bought literally everywhere.
A stroll around Tirana
And what awaits tourists in this very exotic place? The center of Tirana is quite monotonous for the eyes, because it’s full of identical yellow buildings, which house offices and ministries. The heart of the city is the square with the statue of the national hero of Albania, Skanderbeg in the center. In the northern part stands a nineteenth-century clock tower, now serving as a viewpoint. Ethem Bey Mosque, one of the most valuable monuments of Tirana is located right next to it. It was included in the list of Religious Cultural Monuments of Albania. The interior of the building is richly decorated with stuccoworks and frescoes.
To be honest, we must admit that the capital of Albania cannot boast of too many monuments, but either way it’s not the reason to visit the city. Tourists come here to see the remains of the communism. It gradually disappears, demolished over the entire streets and replaced with new housing estates. Tirana, just like the phoenix, raises from the ashes, and the last traces of the shadow of the past will vanish in several years. Today, you can still see the workshops and tenement houses with shabby shops. Those are not beautiful memories, but undoubtedly closely intertwined with the history of the city.
Post-communist Tirana can be seen during a bus ride to the bus station, because it goes around the entire city center.
Attractions of the city
During the tour of the city you will see the mausoleum of the Albanian leader and dictator, Enver Hoxh’s. The construction attracts with the design in the shape of a pyramid and... the ugliness – it’s neglected and covered with graffiti. Today, it houses the International Cultural Centre.
Right next to the Pyramid is located the district of Block. In the past, ordinary citizens didn’t have the access to it (party officials lived here), and today is the party center of the capital. In the evening it’s full of flashing lights and bustle from discos and restaurants.
Where to stay?
Tourists interested in an overnight around the city can choose a campsite located about 15 km west -Camping Nord Park Complex. Two adults with a motorhome will pay around 18 euros per night. The price includes, among others, the access to electricity and showers.
Exploration of the Albanian capital won’t take much time, but it's worth visiting. It’s quite possible that when we’ll visit the city again, we may not recognize it.