Tirane has been the capital of Albania since W.W I. During the communist era the city expanded and became a major industrial center. The heart of Tirana is Skanderberg Square where the business center of Albania is situated. The city suffered considerably during the Second World War, which resulted in the destruction of numerous important historic buildings. Some of the most important monuments are : the Palace of Culture with its concert hall, the Mohammed Dashi mosque and the Museum of National History. The main road of Tirana is Rruga Bajram Curri. Alongside this street are charming old houses that date from Ottoman times. Over the Lana river streches the Tanners Bridge, built in the 18th century. Furthermore, one can visit the Petrela castle (Greek-Roman times). What can be seen today are the ruins of the castle together with the remainders of an old mosque.
Where to visit:
1. Scanderbeg Square
Scanderbeg Square with the government buildings and the 18th-century mosque of Etchem Bey. The bazaar and the mosque of Sulayman Pasha are nearby. The city has a university (founded 1957) and the institute of sciences of Albania. The population of Tiranë is mostly Muslim.
2. Skënderberg Square (Skanderbeg Square)
Skënderberg Square, a great open space in the heart of the city. Mt Dajti, 1612m (5030ft) rises to the east, and the market on that side of town is well worth exploring. The atmosphere is surrounded by important places such as National Theater of Opera and ballet of Albania.
3. Durrësi Street
Durrësi Street was opened in 1922, and was called Nana Mbretneshë (Mother Queen). Many houses and surrounding properties were demolished to make way for it. The existing parliamentary building was raised in 1924, and first served as a club for officers. It was there, in September 1928, that Ahmet Zogu proclaimed the monarchy.
4. Florestano de Fausto and Armando Brasini
The center of Tirana was the project of Florestano de Fausto and Armando Brasini, well known architects of the Mussolini period in Italy. The Palace of Brigades (of the former monarch), the ministries buildings, the National Bank and the Municipality are their work.
5. Dëshmoret e Kombit (National Martyrs) Boulevard
The Dëshmoret e Kombit (National Martyrs) Boulevard was built in 1930 and given the name Zogu I Boulevard. In the communist period, the part from Skënderbej Square up to the train station was named Stalin Boulevard.
6. The National Museum of History
The National Museum of History is the largest and finest museum in Albania, and you’ll find it next to the 15 storey Tirana International Hotel, the tallest building in the country. A huge mosaic mural entitled Albania covers the façade of the building. To the east, the Palace of Culture has a theatre, restaurant, cafes and art galleries, and the Soviet influence is apparent in its clunky architecture. The entrance to the National Library is on the southern side of the building. The Palace of Culture (Pallati I Kulturës), where the Theatre of Operas and Ballet and the National Library stand, was completed in 1963 on the site of the former Trade of Tirana building, with the first brick being placed by Soviet president Nikita Hrushov in 1959. The monument to Skënderbeu, raised in 1968, is the work of Odhise Paskali in collaboration with Andrea Mana and Janaq Paço. It commemorated the 500th anniversary of the death of the national hero.
7. The cupola and minaret of the Mosque of Ethem Bey
Opposite that is the cupola and minaret of the Mosque of Ethem Bey, one of the city’s most distinctive buildings. The construction, by the best artisans in the country, of the mosque in the centre of Tirana was begun in in 1789 by Molla Beu of Petrela (a locale in Albania). It was finished in 1821 by his son, who was also Sulejman Pasha’s grand-nephew. The Clock Tower was started by Haxhi Et’hem Beu around 1821-22, and was finished with the help of the richest families of Tirana. Its installation was the work of the Tufina family. In 1928 the Albanian state bought a modern clock in Germany, and the tower was raised to a height of 35 metres. The clock was damaged during World War II, but was restored to full function in July 1946.
8. The monument to Mother Theresa
The monument to Mother Theresa, 12 metres high, was inaugurated in the Dëshmoret e Kombit cemetery in 1971.
9. Pyramid of Tirana
In the past it was built as a museum for leaders like Enver Hoxha but is now closed. Some tourists use it as a balance test to climb to the top.