Tirana Park on the Artificial Lake
|Tirana Park on the Artificial Lake|
Dam of the Artificial Lake
|Type||Public park, pending Regional status|
|Operated by||Tirana Municipality|
The Tirana Park on the Artificial Lake or the Big Park of Tirana (Albanian: Parku i Madh), or even the Park of Saint Procopius (Albanian: Parku i Shën Prokopit), is a 230-hectare public park situated on the southern part of Tirana, Albania. It includes an artificial lake and many other landmarks such as the Saint Procopius Church, the Presidential Palace of Tirana, and memorials to well known Albanian personalities.
Tirana's artificial lake and park remains one of the most relaxing places of the capital. Despite increasing buildings being developed near (and sometimes in) the park, an early-morning run or promenade is a daily routines for many Tirana citizens.
To the southern end of the park there is the city zoo and the botanical garden. The latter includes many flowers and plants that are common the Albanian environment.
History and setting
The park was built between 1955 and 1956 based on a Bulgarian plan and used to be called the Gogo stable, in a green area. The park starts at the southern end of the Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard, after the University of Tirana main building, south of the main Skanderbeg Square centre.
The park was formerly called Park of Saint Procopius (Albanian: Parku i Shën Prokopit), from the Saint Procopius Church of Tirana, that is located there. In the internal parts of the park can be found the memorials of 45 British soldiers fallen during World War II.
The park includes the Presidential Palace of Tirana, which stays on the side and close to the Elbasan Street. The palace, whose building was started by Zog of Albania, is now a government residence, and has served as a Royal Palace only once, for the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III during his only visit to Albania in May 1941 as King of Albania. The palace had also served vicegerent Francesco Jacomoni and later the Fascist general Alberto Pariani.
The park was home of the Memorial to the mother of King Zog of Albania, Sadijé Toptani. The monument was destroyed by the Communist Regime in the 1950s and can now be enjoyed only in pictures. A wall has been built demarcating the park's boundary.
The park is otherwise called the lung of the city because of the diversity of plants. The park also includes Botanical Gardens of Tirana and Tirana Zoo and also a complex of swimming pools. The park has an amphitheatre where various cultural activities occur especially in summer months.
The artificial lake is a well known fishing and also swimming area. The lake was built from local waters in 1955 on volunteer work to build a 400 m long dam that holds the waters from overflowing onto Tirana.
The park also notably includes the tombs of the Frashëri brothers: Abdyl Frashëri, diplomat, politician, writer, and a distinguished leader of the National Renaissance of Albania through the League of Prizren, Naim Frashëri (national poet), and Sami Frashëri writer, philosopher, and playwright. Also, in 1998 the remains of Faik Konica, former Albanian minister to Washington, and publisher of the Albania magazine were brought from the United States and put in a tomb located at the park.
In the park there are 120 species of trees, bushes and flowers. The Botanical Gardens' area is of 14.5 hecatares and the lake's size is of 55 hectares, whereas the area of the park itself is of 230 hectares.
Rehabilitation and controversy
The park has suffered extensively from problems of litter and pollutants and crime has also been reported in the area. In 2005 Tirana's Municipality organized the Green Fair, where major ideas were collected as how to fully rehabilitate the park.
In 2008 a lakeside competition was held to come up with the best urban and ecologic masterplan for the future of the district, to create a new dense urban neighborhood with a park and public facilities at the shore of Tirana Lake. The masterplan consists of 225,000m2 of housing, 60,000m2 offices, 20,000m2 public buildings, 60,000m2 retail, 15,000m2 of hotels and 20,000m2 sport and recreational facilities and a car park. The redesign is scheduled to take place in 2010 with a total estimated investment of 600 million Euro.
The major constructions will reduce the size of the green area of the park, which has led to much controversy on the Albanian media as to the actual benefits to the citizens of Tirana.
The Botanical Gardens are set to be destroyed to build the new Tirana ring motorway 
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