|— Municipality and City —|
|Motto: Korça ku dua të jetoj (Korça, where I want to live)|
|• Mayor||Niko Peleshi (PS)|
|Elevation||850 m (2,800 ft)|
|Time zone||Central European Time (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Korçë (Definite Albanian form: Korça, other names see below) is a city in southeastern Albania and the capital of the Korçë District. It has a population of around 105,000 people (2009 census), making it the sixth largest city in Albania. It stands on a plateau some 850 m (2,789 ft) above sea level, surrounded by the Morava Mountains.
Korçë is named differently in other languages: Aromanian: Curceaua or Cоrceaо; Bulgarian archaic form: Горица, Goritsa; Greek: Κορυτσά, Koritsá; Italian: Coriza; Macedonian: Горица, Gorica; Turkish: Görice.
Neolithic remains have been found indicating occupation of the site from 4000 BC onwards. The Copper Age lasted from 3000 BC to 2100 BC. Mycenean pottery was introduced in the plain of Korçë during the late Bronze Age (Late Helladic IIIc), and has been claimed that the tribes living in this region before the Dark Age migrations, probably spoke a northwestern Greek dialect. The area was on the border between Illyria and Epirus and according to a historical reconstruction was ruled by an Illyrian dynasty until 650 BC, while after 650 BC a Chaonian dynasty. During this period the area was inhabited by ancient Greek tribes, possibly Chaonians or Molossians, which were two of the three major Greek tribes inhabiting the region of Epirus. Archaeologists have found a gravestone of the 2nd or 3rd century AD depicting two Illyrian blacksmiths working iron on an anvil near modern Korçë.
Middle Ages and Ottoman Rule 
The modern town dates from the end of the 15th Century, when Iljaz Hoxha, under the command of Sultan Mehmet II, developed Korçë. The Ottoman occupation began in 1440, and after Hoxha's role in the siege of Constantinople, in 1453; he was awarded the title, 'Iljaz Bey Mirahor'. Korçë was a sandjak of the Manastir vilayet in the Ottoman Empire as Görice. The city started to flourish when the nearby town of Moscopole was raided by the Albanian troops of Ali Pasha at 1788. 
20th century 
Early 20th century 
Ottoman rule over Korçë lasted until 1912; although the city and its surroundings were supposed to become part of the Principality of Bulgaria according to the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, the Treaty of Berlin of the same year returned the area to Ottoman rule. In 1910 the Orthodox Alliance of Korçë led by Mihal Grameno proclaimed the establishment of an Albanian church, but the Ottoman authorities refused to recognize it. Korçë's proximity to Greece, which claimed the entire Orthodox population as Greek, led to its being fiercely contested in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. Greek forces captured Korçë from the Ottomans in 6 December 1912 and afterwards proceeded to imprison the Albanian nationalists of the town. Its incorporation into Albania in 1913 was disputed by Greece, who claimed it as part of a region called 'Northern Epirus', and resulted in a rebellion by the local Greek population that asked the intervention of the Greek army. This rebellion was initially suppressed by the Dutch commanders of the Albanian gendarmerie, that consisted of 100 Albanians led by Themistokli Gërmenji, as a result the local Greek-Orthodox bishop Germanos and other members of the town council were arrested and expelled by the Dutch. However, under the terms of the Protocol of Corfu (May 1914), the city became part of the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus inside the borders of the principality of Albania, while in 10 July 1914 the Greek Northern Epirote forces took over the city.
In October 1914 the city came again under Greek administration. During the period of the National Schism (1916) a local revolt broke out and with military and local support Korçë came under the control of Eleftherios Venizelos' Movement of National Defence, overthrowing the royalist forces. However, due to developments in the Macedonian Front of World War I the city came soon under French control (1916–1920). During this time fourteen representatives of Korçë and Colonel Descoins signed a protocol that proclaimed the Autonomous Albanian Republic of Korçë (Albanian: Republika Shqipëtare e Korçës under the military protection of the French army and with Themistokli Gërmenji as president. It ultimately remained part of Albania, as determined by the International Boundary Commission, which affirmed the country's 1913 borders.
By the end of the 19th century, Albanian nationalism was inspiring many to attempt to remove the elements of Turkish music from Albanian culture, a desire that was intensified following independence in 1912; music bands that formed during this era like the Korçë-based Lira Chorus established 1922, played a variety of European styles, including marches, waltzes, nationalist, and love songs like serenades.
During the inter-war period, the city became a hotbed of Communist agitation. Albania's future dictator, Enver Hoxha, lived there and was both a pupil and a teacher at the town's French school. Korçë's underground Communist movement became the nucleus of Hoxha's Albanian Party of Labour. During the 1930s, the Bank of Athens had a branch in the city.
World War II 
Italian forces occupied Korçë in 1939, along with the rest of the country. After the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War, the Greek Army entered the city in November 1940, which remained under Greek sovereignty until the German attack in April 1941. After Italy's withdrawal from the war in 1943, the Germans occupied the town until October 24, 1944.
During the occupation, the city became a major center of Communist-inspired resistance to the Axis occupation of Albania. The establishment of the Albanian Party of Labour – the Communist Party – was formally proclaimed in Korçë in 1941. Albanian rule was restored in 1944 following the withdrawal of German forces.
Socialist era 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2010)|
The area suffered from Hoxha's dictatorial regime like the rest of Albania, although it is arguable whether it was to as great an extent. Hoxha mainly fought against the rich, despite the fact that they had often fought against the Nazi and Fascist occupations. Right after World War II many people fled to Boston, USA, joining a community of the Albanian-Americans, who had previously emigrated there.
After 1990 Korçë was one of the six cities where the New Democratic Party won all the constituencies. Popular revolts in February 1991 ended with the tearing down of Hoxha's statue.
Korçë has a transitional Mediterranean climate (or continental Mediterranean climate) with high temperature amplitudes. The hottest month is August (25 °C (77 °F)) while January (2 °C (36 °F)) is the coldest. The city receives around 710 millimeters (28 in) annual precipitation with summer minimum and winter maximum, which makes it easily the driest major city in generally humid Albania, owing to the rain shadow of the coastal mountains. The temperatures in Korçë generally remain cooler than the western part of Albania, due to the middle altitude of the plain in which it is situated, but it receives about 2300 hours of solar radiation per year, so its temperatures are higher than those in Northeastern Albania. Temperatures can still reach up to 40 °C (104 °F) or higher on occasions.
|Climate data for Korçë|
|Average high °C (°F)||4
|Average low °C (°F)||−3
|Precipitation mm (inches)||58
|Source: Weatherbase |
For centuries Korçë has been an important religious center for Orthodox Christians. It hosts a large Orthodox community and since 1670 has served as the seat of an Orthodox metropolitan bishop. There is also a large Sunni community in and around the city. Islam entered the city in the 15th century through Iljaz Hoxha, a famous Albanian jannissary, who actively participated in the Fall of Constantinople. One of the oldest mosques was built in Albania by Iljaz Hoxha in 1484, the Ilias Mirahori Mosque. A Bektashi community is also present in the city. The main center of the Bektashis of the area is the Turan Tekke.
Korçë is referred to as the city of museums. The National Museum of Medieval Art of Albania has rich archives of ca. 6500 icons and 500 other objects in textile, stone and metal. The National Museum of Archeology is located in Korçë. The first Albanian School as well as the residence and gallery of painter Vangjush Mio function as museums. The Bratko Museum and the Oriental Museum are also located in the city.
The first school, a Greek language school, in the city was established in 1724 with the support of residents of nearby Vithkuq. This school was destroyed during the Greek War of Independence but it reopened at 1830. In 1857 a female Greek school was operating in the city. During the 19th century various local benefactors such as Ioannis Pangas donated money for the promotion of Greek education and culture in Korçë, such as the Bangas Gymnasium. Similarly, kindergartens, boarding and urban schools, were also operating in the city during this period. Under these developments, a special community fund, named the Lasso fund, was established in 1850 by the local Orthodox bishop Neophytos, in order to support Greek cultural activity in Korçë.
At the end of the 19th century local Albanians expressed a growing need to be educated in their native language. The Albanian intellectual diaspora from Istanbul and Bucharest initially tried to avoid antagonism towards the notables of Korçë who were in favor of Greek culture. Thus they suggested the introduction of Albanian language in the existing Greek Orthodox schools, a proposal which was rejected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As a result, the first Albanian language school was established in 1887 by the Drita (English: Light) organization and funded by notable local individuals. Its first director was Pandeli Sotiri. Naim Frashëri, the national poet of Albania played a great role in the opening of the school. As a high-ranking statesman in the ministry of education of the Ottoman Empire he managed to get official permission for the school. The Ottoman authorities gave permission only for Christian children to be educated in Albanian, but the Albanians did not follow this restriction and allowed also Muslim children to attend. As a result the school was closed in 1902 by the Ottoman authorities.
The school was followed by Albania's first school for girls in 1891. It started by Gjerasim Qiriazi and was later run by his sisters, Sevasti and Parashqevi Qiriazi, together with Polikseni Luarasi (Dhespoti). Later collaborators were the Rev. & Mrs. Grigor Çilka and Rev & Mrs. Phineas Kennedy of the Congregational Misson Board of Boston.
When the city was under French administration in 1916 (the Republic of Korçë), Greek schools were closed and 200 Albanian and French language schools were opened. A few months later Greek schools were reopened as a reward and result of Greece's adhesion to the Entente alliance, part of which was France, although the decision to reopen them was in contradiction to the wishes of the population. Particularly relevant was the opening in 1917 of the Albanian National Lyceum.
The city is home to Fan Noli University, founded in 1971, which offers several degrees in the humanities, sciences and business. The University includes a school in Agriculture, Teaching, Business, Nursing, and Tourism.
After the collapse of the Socialist Republic, part of the local communities expressed a growing need to revive their cultural past, in particular with the reopenning of Greek schools. In April 2005 the first bilingual Greek-Albanian school opened in Korçë after 60 years of prohibition of Greek education. In addition, a total of 17 Greek language institutes are functioning in the city.
During the 20th century, Korçë gained a substantial industrial capacity in addition to its historic role as a commercial and agricultural centre. The plateau on which the city stands is highly fertile and is one of Albania's main wheat-growing areas. Local industries include the manufacture of knitwear, rugs, textiles, flour-milling, brewing, and sugar-refining. Deposits of lignite coal are mined in the mountains nearby such as Mborje-Drenovë. The city is home to the nationally famous Birra Korça.
According to official reports the city enjoys one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. The majority of foreign investment comes from Greeks, as well as joint Albanian-Greek enterprises.
- The football (soccer) club is KS Skënderbeu Korçë, Albanian Champions in 1933 and recently, in 2011 and 2012.
Notable people from Korçë 
In alphabetical order by last name:
- Thoma Abrami, poet and activist of the Albanian National Awakening
- Servet Tefik Agai soccer player, leading goalscorer of the fourth Championship of the Albanian Superliga.
- Anthony Athanas, multi-millionaire restauranteur and philanthropist.
- Anastas Avramidhi-Lakçe (1821–1890) businessman and benefactor.
- Dhimitër Berati, signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence.
- Pandeli Cale, rilindas and signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
- Kristo Dako, minister of education and political activist
- Natasha Dhimitri (Zguro), distinguished female basketball player, who represented Albania internationally
- Visar Dodani, journalist and activist of the Albanian National Awakening.
- Pandeli Evangjeli, twice Prime Minister of Albania
- Pavlina Evro, mid-distance runner, winner of the 1500 meter race at the "Grand Prix" International Athletic Meeting in Nice (France)
- Eli Fara, singer.
- Thanas Floqi, rilindas and signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
- Llazar Fundo, member of the Albanian Communist Party during WWII.
- Mihal Grameno, rilindas, freedom fighter along Çerçiz Topulli, journalist, and writer.
- Natasha Lako, poet, writer, journalist. MP for Democratic Party (1991-1992)legislation.
- Spiro Ilo, signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
- Idhomene Kosturi, former Prime Minister of Albania
- Kostaq Kota, politician
- Panteleimon Kotokos (1890–1969), Greek Orthodox bishop of Gjirokastër (1937–1941).
- Koçi Bey 17th-century high-ranking Ottoman bureaucrat
- Ermal Kuqo, basketball player, member of the Albanian national basketball team.
- Savva Lika, javelin thrower.
- Sabien Lilaj, Albanian footballer
- Devis Mema, Albanian footballer, capped with Albania U-21
- Giannis Melkas (Jani Melka) retired volleyball player and now coach.
- Gjon Mili, fotographer
- Vangjush Mio, painter.
- Thimi Mitko, nationalist and folklorist.
- Dhimitër Orgocka actor and screenplayer, People's Artist of Albania
- Thoma Orollogaj, minister of justice of Albania and Balli Kombëtar leader.
- Tefik Osmani, football soccer player, capped with the Albania
- Ioannis Pangas (1814–1895), Greek entrepreneur and benefactor.
- Pilo Peristeri, former member of the Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania and former Minister in the Albanian Government
- Alma Qeramixhi, 1992 Olympic Games participant, heptathlete and 100 hurdles record keeper for Albania.
- Leonidas Sabanis, weightlifter Olympic Games Silver Medal winner for Greece
- Aristotel Samsuri, soccer player, leading goalscorer of the second Championship of the Albanian Superliga.
- Llazi Sërbo, film and stage actor.
- Behar Shtylla, diplomat and Foreign Minister of Albania from 1953 to 1970
- Konstantinos Skenderis, Greek author and politician.
- Stavro Skëndi, historian and linguist
- Donald Suxho, olympic volleyball player for the USA
- Misto Treska, diplomat, translator and writer
- Kristi Vangjeli football soccer player, capped with the Albania
- Dhimitër Zografi, signatory of Albanian Declaration of Independence
International relations 
Twin towns — Sister cities 
Korçë is twinned with:
- Thessaloniki, Greece
- Cluj-Napoca, Romania
- Mitrovica, Kosovo
- Verona, Italy
- Los Alcázares, Spain
See also 
- Autonomous Albanian Republic of Korçë
- Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus
- Greeks in Albania
- Tourism in Albania
- Kamenica Tumulus
- Albanian diaspora
- Music of Albania
- List of castles in Albania
- Devoll District
- Municipality of Korçë
- N.G.L Hammond, Alexander's Campaign in Illyria, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, pp 4–25. 1974
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- Carol Zerner, Peter Zerner, John Winder, John Winder. Wace and Blegen: pottery as evidence for trade in the Aegean Bronze age, 1939-1989. J.C. Gieben, 1993, ISBN 978-90-5063-089-4, p. 222
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- The Cambridge ancient history: The expansion of the ..., Tome 3, Part 3, bt John Boardman,Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, page 263, "In the plain of Korçë Illyrian rule ended c. 650 BC, when the burials of "
- The Cambridge ancient history, Tome 3, Part 3, by John Bagnell Bury, "In the plain of Korçë Illyrian rule ended c. 650 BC, when the burials of their chieftains in Tumulus I at Kuci Zi came to an end"
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- Ismyrliadou, Adela; Karathanasis, Athanasios (1999). "Koritsa: Education-Benefactors-Economy 1850-1908". Balkan studies: biannual publication of the Institute for Balkan Studies 1 (40): 224–228. "Among them benefactors Ioanis Bangas (1814-1895) and Anastasios Avramidis Liaktsis have a definite place...", "General Rules for Public Institutions in the town of Koritsa were drawn up and changed for the better the functioning of the educational estamblishments."
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- The question of educating Albanians in their mother tongue was raised frequently in the reports of American religious missionaries in the Balkans. In June 1896 Reverend Lewis Bond reported that lessons at the Korça (Korcë) school were conducted in modern Greek, while the local people loved their own tongue, only spoken at home. "Can we do anything for them", asked Reverend Bond. His question obviously remained rhetorical, because three years later he sent another, much more extensive, statement on the issues of the language and education of the Albanians in Korçë. He wrote that only at the girls' school, set up by the Protestant community, the training was in Albanian and once more claimed there was no American who would not sympathise with the Albanians and their desire to use their own language Source : Antonina Zhelyazkova Albanian identities . International center for minority study and intercultural relations. Sofia .BULGARIA 1999
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