|Nickname(s): Vatra e Demokracisë|
|• Mayor||Elvis Rroshi|
|• Ruling party||SP|
|Elevation||16 m (52 ft)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Kavajë (// kah-VY-ə, definite form in Albanian: Kavaja) is a small municipality centrally located in the Western Lowlands region of Albania. The capital of Kavajë District, an administrative division of Tirana County, it borders Durrës to the north, Tirana to the east, Peqin to the south-east and Lushnje to the south. To the west lies the Adriatic Sea.
- 1 Origin
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Education
- 6 Healthcare
- 7 Government
- 8 Economy
- 9 Culture
- 10 Cuisine
- 11 Media
- 12 Religion
- 13 Sports
- 14 Notable People
- 15 International Relations
- 16 References
- 17 External links
The origin of the name Kavajë derives from the Latin word caballus, meaning "horse, cart-horse". The region of Kavajë with its localities has many Latin based toponyms, a legacy inherited from Ancient Rome. Names were given to a specific locality based on their: administrative relevance – localities considered important in terms of trade and development, geography – by examining the vegetational characteristics of a locality, and social life – by stereotyping a locality.
- Administrative toponyms
- Qerret – Cerreto (Placename of several localities in Italy)
- Domën – Dominium (Property)
- Kazie – Casa (Cottage)
Shëngjergj – San Giorgio (General toponym in Italy)
- Geographic toponyms
- Tilaj – Tiglio (Lime)
- Kanaparaj – Canapa (Hemp)
- Mamël – Mammola (Violet)
- Karpen – Carpino (Hornbeam)
- Zikularaj – Ziccula/Pezzetto di Legno (Piece of Wood)
- Levanaj – Levano (Elevate)
- Social toponyms
- Cikallesh – Cicaleccio (Chatter)
- Rrikaj – Ricca (Rich)
- Çetë – Ceto (Social Class)
Early Illyrian Settlement
The present day territory of Kavajë has been inhabited since the Late Antiquity. It is believed that the Illyrian tribe of Taulantii built their city Arnisa in the area today known as Zikxhafaj. After the eventual Roman Conquest of the region, Kavajë would become a transit route for Via Egnatia. It was built by the Romans in order to link a chain of their colonies stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the Bosphorus. The famous Battle of Pharsalus between Julius Caeser and his archrival Pompey took place near Shkëmbi i Kavajës, at the time known as Petra.
Skuraj and Matrangaj Rule
In the second half of the 13th century and up until the early 15th century, much of central Albania and its surrounding region were ruled by a few powerful feudal families. The two most prominent families that ruled Kavajë at this time were the feudal families of Skuraj and Matrangaj. The Skuraj family, as direct descendants of the dynasty that founded the Principality of Arbanon controlled the eastern part of Kavajë. Their emblem depicted a lion standing up on one foot and reaching up to grab a fleur-de-lis. It would later be used as the official Emblem of the City of Tirana. The Skuraj neighborhood of Kavajë (Lagja Skuraj) is named after the Skuraj Dynasty that ruled the region.
The Matrangaj family had established their center in Bashtovë. They controlled most of the Myzeqe plains and the coastal hills of Karpen. They built their castle as a trading outpost although it is commonly believed that it was built as a fortification from the invading Ottoman armies. The Matrangaj family were the most powerful rulers of 14th century Kavajë.
- Ottoman archives of the late 16th century mention of a small locality in the present day territory under the name Kavalje. Traveler Evliya Çelebi wrote in 1670 that the city had 400 houses (hans), a bazaar with 200 shops and four mosques. The following century, Kavajë experienced a big population boom, surpassing neighbouring Durrës and Tirana. In 1817, the clock tower was built. The oldest such monument in the country. It remains to this day the symbol of the city. During the second half of the 19th century, Kavajë had established itself as an important trading center.
Albanian-American Institute of Agriculture
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The Albanian-American Institute of Agriculture, alternatively known as "The Albanian-American School of Agriculture and Domestic Science" was a technical school of higher education founded in Kavajë by Dr. Charles Telford Erickson.
Dr. Erickson was a missionary to Albania who had offered political advice to the Vatra delegation at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. The school he founded, aimed to promote the knowledge of modern scientific agriculture and provide a thorough training in it for young Albanians. The project was funded by the Near East Foundation who had contracted New York based architecture firm Thompson and Churchill to design it.
Role during the Holocaust
At the start of World War II, approximately 600 Jews lived in the Republic of Albania. About 400 of them were German and Austrian refugees and the rest were from nearby countries like Yugoslavia and Greece. The largest number of these refugees, roughly 200 of them, were placed at a camp in Kavajë. They would later find shelter among the local population. The citizens of Kavajë gave an invaluable contribution in the housing and sheltering of Jewish refugees during World War II. The names of Mihal Lekatari, Besim Kadiu and Shyqyri Myrto are placed on the list of the Righteous among the Nations honored by Yad Vashem.
Known primarily as an agricultural region, in the early decade of the 1960s, Kavajë started to emerge as one of the most important industrial centers in Albania. Below is a list of major industrial plants that operated in the city and the region:
- The Nails and Bolts Plant (Uzina e Gozhdë-Bulonave) was inaugurated on November 28, 1963. Using Chinese technology, the plant produced nails, bolts and screws. In the later years, with its expansion, the plant started to produce wooden screws, metal wires, metal chains, rail bolts, barbed wires, etc. As of 1990 the plant employed 1,200 workers.
- The Paper Factory (Fabrika e Letrës) was inaugurated on November 28, 1966. Using Chinese technology, it initially started to produce stationery paper for notebooks, books and textbooks as well as typographic paper for official documents and newspapers. This plant employed 750 workers at its peak.
- The Glass Factory (Fabrika e Qelqit) was inaugurated in the late fall of 1970. Like the others, this factory also used Chinese technology. It produced glass packaging and other glass items for mass consumption. Later on, a ceramic production facility was opened. In 1975, new mirror production lines were set and attempts to produce seasoned glass gave little results. After 1985 the factory started producing items including pearls, stone rings, etc. The Glass factory along with the ceramic facility employed 2,500 workers.
- The Carpet Production Plant (Ndërmarrja e Prodhimit të Qilimave) had a separate department for the production of artistic copper. It produced mainly tapestry carpets and artistic copper items for the domestic market. This plant employed 3,000 workers.
- The Food Factory (Fabrika Ushqimore) processed fresh fruits, vegetables and bread for the local population. It also produced conserved fruits and vegetables for exports. This factory employed 300 workers.
The first anti-communist demonstrations in Albania took place in Kavajë on the day of March 26, 1990. The event that triggered these demonstrations was the football match between local club Besa and Tirana club Partizani which had long been favored by the regime. Angry fans threw banners on the field detesting the system. After the match, numerous people were arrested by the police. Outraged citizens took on the streets and burned the city's police building thus marking the first event of importance against the regime at the time.
Pluralist Decade of the 1990s
Several monuments in Kavajë, especially geographic features, are often considered to possess exceptional scientific, ecological, cultural, historical or religious values. The following are natural monuments found in Kavajë District:
- Salt Springs of Golemas
- Sulfurous Springs of Filiballie
- Laurel of Turrë Castle
- Coastal Cliff of Bardhor
- Sea Fossils of Thartor
- Aligned Rocks in Cikallesh
- Carina Beach
- General's Beach
- Karstic Caves in Mengaj
The District of Kavajë had an estimated population of ∼ 118,000 inhabitants as of 2011. Kavajë Municipality numbered ∼ 39,000 inhabitants and its surrounding communes and localities numbered roughly ∼ 49,000 inhabitants. Rrogozhinë Municipality had a population of ∼ 11,000 inhabitants and its surrounding localities numbered a total of ∼ 19,000 inhabitants. Population density in urban areas was 285 inhabitants per km2 and in rural areas much less. 57.6% of the people in the district lived in rural areas whereas 42.4% lived in the city. The gender structure of the population is almost equal. The social structure not so much. Only 48% of the workforce is employed. Since 1990, more than 25% of the total population in the district has migrated elsewhere, mainly to countries like: Italy, Greece, Great Britain, France, Germany, United States and Canada. A smaller percentage has migrated towards neighbouring Durrës and the capital, Tirana.
The first Albanian language school opened in Kavajë in the late summer of 1887. Kavajë District has established a public and a private school system which serves for the upbringing and education of the children and youth. Public Educational Institutions operating in Kavajë District as of 2012:
- Public Preschools
There are 50 kindergartens throughout the district: seven within the Municipality of Kavajë and 43 in the surrounding communes. The number of children registered in these kindergartens is 2,092. The number of teachers is 93.
- Private Preschools
There are two privately operated kindergartens with 67 children registered.
- Public Primary Schools (9-year public schools)
There are 42 primary schools throughout the district: six within the Municipality of Kavajë and 36 in the surrounding communes. The number of young adults registered in these schools is 10,526. The number of teachers is 615.
- Private Primary Schools (9-year private schools)
There are two privately operated primary schools with 183 young adults registered.
- Secondary Level High Schools
There are seven secondary level high schools throughout the district: three within the Municipality of Kavajë and four in the surrounding communes. The number of students registered in these schools is 3,094. The number of teachers is 183.
- General Level High Schools
There are two general level high schools throughout the district. Aleksandër Moisiu High School in the Municipality of Kavajë and Haxhi Qehaj High School in the Municipality of Rrogozhinë.
- Professional Level High Schools
There two professional level high schools throughout the district: one is located in the Municipality of Kavajë and the other in the Commune of Golem. The total number of students registered in these two schools is 832.
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Kavajë's General Regulatory Plan was drafted in 1994 and approved in that same year by the district council. According to that plan, the city extended over an area of 760 hectares (1,878 acres) and was divided into several zones. The Functional Zoning Regulation and the Functional Zoning Map were drafted in 2007. This plan divided Kavajë into seven functional zones:
- Inhabited Zone
- City Center Zone
- Economic Zone
- Green Zone
- Sports Zone
- Hospital Zone
- Cemetery Zone
The Functional Zoning Regulation and the Functional Zoning Map are built over a period of 3–5 years. In addition to the overall regulatory plan, partial plans are also made for each zone. Each plan studies the development of the zone, where to set up a school, a kindergarten, a park, a recreational area, etc. The City Center Masterplan was drafted and approved in 2007. The plan covered an area of 40.5 hectares (100 acres) and included the historic city center, the creation of a new administrative center, a cultural center and a commercial center.
- Folk Music
In the early 20th century, most folk songs were performed with a flute or kavalli as it was known in this area. Initially made of wood and later of metal, kavalli consisted of two rods, 30 to 35 cm (11.8 to 13.8 in) in length with 6 holes attached to each side and with an upper hole which served as some type of a counterbase. Folk songs were commonly performed by one person. Later performances included more people, mainly in the singing of the chorus. Women always performed together using tambourines.
- Folk Dancing
Folk dancing has been a long-standing tradition in Kavajë. Some of the most popular dances include: "Vallja e Zileve", "Vallja e Qypave", "Vallja dyshe e rëndë e Kavajës", "Vallja e Qilimave", etc. Among the most outstanding dancers and choreographers who have remained popular include: Zyhra and Gani Ferra, Remzi Gjeçi, Madrid Maliqati, Ibrahim Roçi, Gëzim Agolli, Arianit Boraku, Leonard Mitrushi, Esdalin Gorani and others.
- Folk Costumes
Historically the most commonly used men's costume was the kilt or the fustanella, which had been in use up until the Proclamation of Independence in 1912. In the later period, looser clothing started to become the trend. Men wore long sleeve shirts accompanied by artistically sewed vests. Trousers were loosely knitted with wool and were black or dark brown. White trousers were used on significant events and holidays. Also included in the costume was a long woolen belt or leather belt, woolen socks and cow leather sandals or moccasins decorated with tufts at the front.
Women's costumes included a type of headdress embroidered with gold and filled with small silver coins. This was typically worn by young brides. Women also wore long-sleeved uncollared shirts, accompanied by a small vest embroidered in silk or gold threads. On the bottom, they wore half slips covered by a type of loosely wrapped clothing known as dimite, which was usually white. For walking, they wore white cotton or silk socks accompanied by tailored shoes, sandals or slippers. When a woman left the house to visit someone, she would wear a long, brightly colored dress made of satin.
- Lyrical Songs
Lyrical songs express human feelings and spiritual experiences. They express different moments of a person's life, the joy of love, friendship, grief, hatred and other various phenomena of life's attitudes. Some of the most authentic lyrical songs from this region include: "Mun aty ke shtatë zymbylat", "Këndon gjeli pika-pika", "Kënga e gjemitarit", all believed to have been composed and sung by popular singers of the time like Pol Kanapari, Hasan Sakati, Zenel Kalushi and Islam Xhatufa. Other popular singers include Thabit Rexha, Liri Rama, Desire Pezaku, Nysrete Hylviu and undoubtedly the greatest of them all Parashqevi Simaku.
- Historical Songs
Historical songs are dedicated to historical events and prominent historical figures. They are generally created by people who lived these events or are in some ways attached to them. The oldest historical song that is well-preserved even today is titled "Kënga për mbrojtjen e Ulqinit" (Song for the defense of Ulcinj). Other historical songs worth mentioning include: "Kënga e Ceno Kavajës", "Kënga e Sulë Mustafës", "Bubullin ke Shkambi Kavajës", etc.
In Albania the phrase Lloqe Kavaje (Kavajë Blabber) is used to refer to the word gossip. People who gossip a lot or say things which evidently turn out not to be true are talking "Lloqe Kavaje".
- Fol me ty, fol me murin. ("Talking to you is like talking to the wall.")
- U bo veja me mësu pulën. ("Since when does the egg teach the chicken?")
- Rrena a nana e tana të këqijave. ("A lie is the mother of all bad things.")
- Breshka po ferrën don. ("A turtle wants only its bush—things eventually settle in their natural habitats.")
- Mjer puna ime, qe se bani dora ime. ("Being critical to something which was done by others but could've been done better by himself/herself, had he/she taken the effort.")
Byrek Byrek, O Usta Murat…
The untitled song with the phrase "Byrek Byrek, O Usta Murat…" was dedicated to an actual person named Murat. Originally from Steblevë, Dibër Region, Murat Lama had settled down in Kavajë to find work. As the story goes, a few years later he would open up a small little bakery near Kubelie Mosque. It became quite popular with the locals at the time. And so one day, a local poet or bejtexhi as they were called then, who went by the name Sulejman Peçemi, dedicated a song to Murat. The rest is history.
Cultural monuments in Kavajë District:
- St. Friday's Church (Kisha Shën e Premtes) built in 1280.
- Clock Tower (Sahati) built in 1817.
- Etnographic Museum (Muzeu Etnografik) built in the 18th century.
- Bukaq Bridge (Ura e Bukaqit) built in the 18th century.
- Depots of the former Karpen Saltern (Depot e ish-Kripores së Karpenit) built in the 17th century.
- Bashtovë Castle (Kalaja e Bashtovës) built in the 15th century.
For the better part of the 15th century and up until the early 20th century, Kavajë, like the rest of Albania and much of the Balkan Peninsula was under Ottoman rule. As such, it inherited many traditional elements that evolved during this period, elements commonly present in other parts of the region. Cuisine was no exception.
- Ottoman Cuisine consisted mainly of fried-dough snacks and pastries, dairy-based beverages and so on. Tea was widely common and so was a type of ground coffee served unfiltered otherwise known as kafe turke. A list of some traditional local foods:
- Hot and cold meals/snacks
Byrek, Petulla, Imam Bajalldi, Tavë Kosi, Pastiçe, Tarator, Trahana, etc.
Bakllava, Kadaif, Llokum, Revani, Hashure, Sultjash, Kabuni, Tullumba, Gurabie, Hasude, Xupë, Mualebi, Hallvë, etc.
- Hot and Cold Beverages
Dhallë, Limonatë trëndafili, Çaj me komposto kumbulle, Bozë, etc.
Kavajë has two local TV stations, 2A-TV and TV6, and one local radio station, Radio Fantazia. The now-defunct Kavaja Progres was a weekly publication that began circulation in the late fall of 2007. Printed in a newspaper format, it covered mostly socio-economic issues and other daily aspects of city life. Its editorials were perceived as being overly critical of the then-run democratic administration. The paper's publication ceased sometime in mid-summer of 2009 with the pretext that it lacked funding. This raised speculation that it was used as a propaganda piece all along by the local socialist party base, in effort to influence the upcoming general elections.
The population of Kavajë belongs in part to two religious denominations, Muslim and Orthodox Christian. The Muslim population nominally makes up 3/4 of the total population. The remaining 1/4 belong to the Orthodox faith. These are estimated figures which don't hold into account atheists and other non-believers. The Municipality Office keeps no official statistics on religion.
The largest of the four mosques in the city is Kubelie Mosque (Xhamia Kubelie), named after the old mosque built by Kapllan Pasha in 1736 and later demolished by the communist regime in 1967. The existing mosque was built in 1994. City Hall authorities have devised plans to remodel the exterior of its façade. The Piety Mosque (Xhamia e Devotshmërisë) was built in the Skuraj neighbourhood in 2001 with funds from a Saudi charity organization. The Dedei Mosque (Xhamia e Haxhi Mynyre e Dervish Dedeit) was built in 2005 with funds from the Dedei Family. There is also a small teqe built in recent years within the city limits and another one in the locality of Luz i Madh.
Followers of the orthodox faith attend the Shën Kolli Church located near Besa Stadium. The church was rebuilt in 1997, on the same land as the old church with funds from Greece.
St.Friday's Church (Kisha Shën e Premtes) is located 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) east of Kavajë in the locality of Çetë. It was built during the 13th century and today serves as a cultural monument. The frescos inside the church are works of the well-known iconic painter Kostandin Shpataraku.
There's also a smaller church in the locality of Greth, part of Kryevidh Commune. It's attended by the locals of that area.
The small town of Kavajë and the game of Football are synonymous with one another. Hometown club Besa was founded in 1925. In 1973 it became the first Albanian club to move into the second round of the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup. Two years prior, Besa was a Balkans Cup finalist against Greek side Panionios having won Group A. The only provincial club in Albania to date who has achieved such success. Additionally, the club has won two Albanian Cup titles having appeared in the final eight times. They have placed as Superliga runner-ups twice and have enjoyed the third place finish ten times. Some of the most memorable matches are the 9-1 win over Flamurtari in 1937, the 12-0 win over Elbasani in 1945 and the 7-1 win over Sk Tirana in 1992.
Besa is also a winner of six different cups. In 1946 it won the "Kryesia e Federatës Sportive" Cup, in 1953 and 1957 it won the "Bashkimet Profesionale të Shqipërisë" Cup, in 1961 and 1963 it won the "Newspaper Sporti" Cup, in 1965 it won the "Newspaper Bashkimi" Cup. Youth clubs Besa U-17 and Besa U-19 have both been crowned Albanian Champions in the past. Throughout its 90+ year history, Besa has competed in friendlies and international tournaments against such clubs as: Sarajevo, Odra Opole, Dynamo Berlin, Progresul, Veliko Tarnovo, Crvenka, Panionios, Fremad Amager, Hibernian, Bezanija, Litex Lovech, Ethnikos Achnas, Grasshopper Zürich, Olympiacos.
Local fan club Furia Verdhezi (Yellow and Black Fury) was formed in 2011. They support the team in domestic matches at home and across the country. Kavajë District has two other professional football clubs: Egnatia Rrogozhinë and KF Luzi 2008.
- History and Politics
- Stavri Stavro, Albanian Ambassador to Yugoslavia (1925) and Greece (1926-1928).
- Spiro Moisiu, Major General of the Albanian National Liberation Army during World War II.
- Et'hem Cara, Finance Minister during the Nazi Occupation of Albania.
- Baba Faja Martaneshi, Bektashi Monk. Resistance Leader during World War II.
- Alfred Moisiu, 4th President of the Republic of Albania.
- Muhamet Kapllani, Foreign Minister in 1991.
- Halit Shamata, Interior Minister during the 1997 Civil Unrest. Author of several books.
- Astrit Patozi, Editor-in-Chief of Rilindja Demokratike 1997-2007. One of the closest associates of prime minister Sali Berisha.
- Music and the Arts
- Aleksandër Moisiu, 20th century actor of European stage and cinema.
- Mustafa Krantja, Famous Conductor.
- Kristina Koljaka, Famous Sculptor. Her most significant work, the Statue of Lenin, once stood in one of Tirana's main squares.
- Agim Hushi, Tenor. Considered one of the best Spinto Operatic Tenors in the world. Currently the head of the Opera Department at Wien Konservatorium.
- Thoma Simaku, Acclaimed Composer and Senior Lecturer in Composition at the University of York.
- Parashqevi Simaku, Popular Singer of the 1980s. Two-time winner of the National Song Festival.
- Nexhati Tafa, Screenwriter.
- Fatmir Musaj, Painter. Currently serves as Director of Albafilm.
- Erti Hizmo, Singer. Winner of the 3rd edition of the music talent show Ethet e së Premtes Mbrëma.
- Amarda Arkaxhiu, Folk Singer.
- TV and Radio
- Fatmir Efica, Longtime play-by-play Radio Announcer of KS Besa. Writes columns for daily Sporteskpres.
- Esdalin Gorani, Well-known Ballet Dancer. Performs for the largest television station in the country, Top Channel.
- Business and Civil Society
- Enver Ferizaj, Head of the Albanian Agribusiness Council (KASH).
- Science and Academia
- Kolë Xhumari, Author of the children's book Abetare.
- Sports (Football)
- Qamil Teliti,
- Qemal Vogli, goalkeeper of the Dinamo dynasty of the 1950s.
- Dashnor Bajaziti, Top scorer of Superliga during the 1980-1981 and 1982-1983 seasons.
- Lulzim Hushi,
- Altin Rraklli, Played in the German Bundesliga for Freiburg, Hertha Berlin and Unterhaching. Capped 63 times for the Albania National Football Team scoring 11 goals.
- Skerdilaid Curri, Played in the German Bundesliga 2 for FC Erzgebirge Aue.
- Dorjan Bubeqi, Top scorer of Superliga during the 1997-1998 season.
- Bekim Kuli,
- Parid Xhihani, Former top scorer of Albania U21 football team.
- Andi Lila, Starting Defender of the Albania National Football Team.
- Sokol Cikalleshi, Attacking Midfielder. Played for South Korean K-League side Incheon United.
- Ariel Shtini, Played in Romania's Liga I for Concordia Chiajna.
- Notable Residents
- Qemal Karaosmani, General Secretary of the Provisional Government of Albania.
- Haxhi Hafiz Sabri Koçi, Former Grand Mufti of Albania.
- Amik Kasoruho, Publicist.
- Partial Lineage
- Ahmad Fathi Sorour, Egyptian politician who served as the Speaker of the People's Assembly of Egypt from 1990 until the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.
- Fadil Vokrri,
Kavajë is twinned with the following cities:
- "Bashkia Kavajë".
- "Yad Vashem".
- Lloyd Jones. Biografi: A Traveler's Tale "Paperback".
- Neki Babamusta. 26 Marsi 1990: Vullkani që tronditi komunizmin në Shqipëri. "Prishtina Press".
- "Censusi i Popullsisë".
- "Këshilli i Qarkut Tiranë".
- Ramazan Hushi. Thinjat e qytetit tim.
- Fatmir Efica. Besa e Kavajës: Një histori… 1925-1995
- Robert Elsie http://www.albanianlanguage.net/en/stavro.html
- "Teatri Kombëtar i Operës".