House of Leaves

House of Leaves, Tirana

For a long time nobody really knew what was happening in the house with leaves growing around it – but everybody had a suspicion. First the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) of the occupying Germans used the building for interrogations, then the Albanian secret service, the Sigurimi, took it over for the same purpose. It became their central office between 1944 and 1991. Since 2017 the Shtëpia e Gjetheve (‘House of Leaves‘) is now open as the Museum of Secret Surveillance.

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Social realism

Galeria Kombëtare e Arteve, Tirana

The national art gallery of Tirana, Albania or Galeria Kombëtare e Arteve is located close to the city centre at Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit. You can easily find it behind the artwork ‘The Cloud‘ (REJA). From the outside the building doesn’t look too promising but it has a good collection of 4100 historic works – beginning in the 13th century CE – and the presentation of these is very good. On the ground floor changing exhibitions are shown, often with contemporary art.

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Albanian national history

Albanian natural history museum, Tirana

The Muzeu Historik Kombëtar is located directly at the Skanderbeg square in the heart of Tirana, Albania. You can’t overlook this building as it carries a giant mosaic (called Shqipëria / Albania) that shows Albanians from different eras – only the red star above Mother Albania has been removed. The museum shows the national history of the country chronologially from ancient times until today.

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Resurrection cathedral

Resurrection cathedral, Tirana

If you’re visiting an orthodox Christian church you typically would expect an old building – but the resurrection cathedral (Katedralja Ortodokse ‘Ngjallja e Krishtit‘) of Tirana, Albania has been opened in 2012 between the Skanderbeg square and the park Rinia. Therefore it is a new and modern building. Its predecessor from 1865 was standing at the Skanderbeg square and was torn down in 1950 to build the cultural palace now standing there.

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Street art

Street art, Tirana

If you’re arriving at Tirana, Albania and know other cities of the balkans than you immediatly recognize a big difference: you don’t see the typical gray of concrete, but many colourful houses. That is the result if you make an artist the mayor of a city. Edi Rama from the socialist party was mayor of Tirana between 2003 and 2011 and supported to make the city a colourful place.

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Et‘hem bey

Xhamia Et'hem Bej, Tirana

The Et’hem bey mosque (Xhamia e Et’hem Beut) is a highly decorated tiny mosque in the center of Tirana, Albania – next to the Skanderbeg place (Sheshi Skënderbej). It was built between 1794 and 1821 and is a typical example of an ancient mosque with only one cupola. The mosque is much too small for such a house of prayer in the center of a capital city – but it will remain as it has its place in history.

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Skanderberg memorial, Tirana

People going to Tirana, Albania most often start their visit at the Skanderbeg square (Sheshi Skënderbej), the heart of the city. It is a giant square created between 1917 and 1930. The square has been redesigned several times since then and contained first a fountain destroyed during World War II and afterwards a lot of space was used for roads, many cars were passing by each day. Today it is vast pedestrian-only area with many examples of Socialist architecture and an important memorial.

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