No import/export

Albanian Leke

The Albanian lek (ALL) is the current currency of Albania. It was introduced in 1925 and one lek was formerly divided into 100 qindarka (this subunit was removed in 1990). The lek has two specialities: it isn’t a freely convertible currency and its value is held stable against the Euro by the national bank. And (what I never had before) you are not allowed to import or export the currency.

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The past

Lenin & Stalin, Tirana

Especially communist states love to create big statues of their leaders. But what to do with them when times change? In some countries they were simply destroyed, others created exhibitions like the Memento Park near Budapest, Hungary. In Tirana, Albania the big memorials have just been moved into the backyard of the national art gallery Galeria Kombëtare e Arteve. Without any explanation these contemporary witnesses are standing there like an odd silent crowd.

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Pyramid, Tirana

The pyramid of Tirana, Albania is a ruin at the city center: it was supposed to be teared down to make place for a new parliament building – now it is planned to be a youth centre, but yet no progress is visible. It was opened in 1988 is a museum about the former leader Enver Hoxha who died in 1985. On top of it there was a red star and red light illuminated its shape. It was the materialized personality cult arround Hoxha.

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Tirana, Albania

If you’re coming to Albania you can’t overlook the massive amount of bunkers built by the communist regime between 1972 and 1984. Even in Tirana these mushroom-shaped bunkers can be seen everywhere in parks. Special companies led by the communist party organised their creation and throughout the country there were once 168.000 of them – that’s one bunker for every eleven inhabitants.

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ZETA Contemporary art center, Tirana

Maybe it is the smallest art gallery on the planet: the ZETA Contemporary Art Center at Tirana, Albania. It shows the works of Albanian and international artists in just one room. When you’re at Blloku just drop in for some minutes – you don’t need too much time. The hardest task is to find it within the Hekla Center.

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Heart tunnel, Tirana

The city quarter ‘Blloku‘ of Tirana, Albania is the place to be for young Albanians in the evening hours. Here you can find good bars and restaurants, next to the right places for nightlife. But that wasn’t always like this – the city quarter was during communist times reserved for the representatives and truest followers of the party (Partia e Punës e Shqipërisë, PPSH).

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Aeroporti Ndërkombëtar i Tiranës Nënë Tereza (TIA)

Mother Teresa airport, Tirana

The airport of the capital city of Albania is located seventeen kilometers outside of Tirana. It is the biggest airport of the region (which doesn’t mean that it is actually big), has one runway and transports nearly 3 million passengers a year. It was built from 1954 on and was always also used by the Albanian Airforce. In 2003 it was renamed in honor of Mother Teresa who’s parents came from Albania and who is a national hero.

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