Tirana

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Tirana
City
Skanderbeg square tirana 2016.jpg
Orthodox Church Tirana 2016 albania.jpg Tirana architecture 2016.jpg
Toptani Shopping Mall Tirana 2016.jpg Tirana Kapllan Pasha Tomb.jpg
Tirana Rinia Park scene.jpg City Hall of Tirana.jpg
Tirana Albania pano 2004-07-14.jpg
Clockwise from top: Statue of Skanderbeg in the city centre, the Orthodox Cathedral of Tirana, a new Pedestrian street, Toptani Shopping Mall, the Tomb of Kapllan Pasha, view of the mosaic above the entrance of the National Museum, Administration Building of Tirana and Tirana looking from above of Mountain Dajti
Flag of Tirana.svg
Flag
Wappen Tirana.svg
Seal
Tirana is located in Albania
Tirana
Tirana
Coordinates: 41°19′44″N 19°49′04″E / 41.32889°N 19.81778°E / 41.32889; 19.81778Coordinates: 41°19′44″N 19°49′04″E / 41.32889°N 19.81778°E / 41.32889; 19.81778
Country Albania Albania
County Tirana
Government
 • Mayor Erion Veliaj[1] (SP)
Area
 • Municipality 1,110.03 km2 (428.58 sq mi)
 • Administrative Unit 41.8 km2 (16.1 sq mi)
Elevation 110 m (360 ft)
Population (2015)
 • Total 610,070
 • Municipality 800,986
 • Municipality density 720/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal Code 1001–1028, 1031
Area Code (0)4
Vehicle registration AL
Website Official Website

Tirana Listeni/tˈrɑːnə/ (Albanian: Tiranë; regional Gheg Albanian: Tirona) is the capital and largest city of Albania and as well the heart of Albania's cultural, economic and governmental activity. It is located on the western center of the country surrounded by hills with the Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. The city is located some 700 kilometres (430 miles) north of Athens, Greece, 290 km (180 mi) west of Skopje, Macedonia, 250 km (160 mi) south-east of Pristina, Kosovo and 160 km (99 mi) south of Podgorica, Montenegro.

Tirana is one of largest cities in the Balkan Peninsula and ranks 7th with a population of 610,070.[2] The municipality, has a total population of 800,986.[3] It is also the biggest Metropolitan area in Albania and the only one with a population of over 500.000. Being Albania's primate city, Tirana is a hometown of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies. The city is ranked in the Top 10 of the sunniest cities in Europe with a total of 2544 hours of sun.[4]

The area occupied by Tirana has been populated since Paleolithic times dating back 10,000 to 30,000 years ago. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with Illyrian toponyms as its precincts are some of the earliest regions in Albania to be inhabited. Tirana was founded as a city in 1614 although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. An almost unimportant centre until the beginning of the 20th century, Tirana was proclaimed as the capital of Albania in 1920.

Etymology

There are many hypotheses concerning the origin of the name of the city. One is that it is from the word Theranda that Greek and Latin sources employ to refer to the area, after the term te ranat used by the inhabitants, meaning fallen material, in reference to the composition of the terrain out of hard earth swept down by water from the nearby mountains.[5]

The other, Tirana comes from Tirkan. Tirkan was a castle on the Mount Dajt. The ruins of the castle still exist, which dates back to the beginning of the 1st century BC and which is thought to have been the castle which the Byzantine scholar from Palaestina Prima, named Procopius called the castle of Tirkan.[5]

History

Antiquity

See also: Illyria and Illyrians
The Cave of Pellumba

The area occupied by Tirana has been populated since the Paleolithic era,[6] dating back 10,000 to 30,000 years ago, as suggested by evidence from tools excavated near Mount Dajt's quarry and in Pellumba Cave. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with Illyrian toponyms, as its precincts are some of the earliest inhabited regions in Albania.[7] The Illyrians called the settlement Tërana.[citation needed]

The oldest discovery in downtown Tirana was a Roman house, later transformed into an aisleless church with a mosaic-floor, dating to the 3rd century A.D., with other remains found near a medieval temple at Shengjin Fountain in the eastern suburbs. A castle possibly called Tirkan or Theranda, whose remnants are found along Murat Toptani Street, was built by Emperor Justinian in 520 A.D. and restored by Ahmed Pasha Toptani in the 18th century.[7] The area had no special importance in Illyrian and classical times. In 1510, Marin Barleti, an Albanian Catholic priest and scholar, in the biography of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis (The story of life and deeds of Skanderbeg, the prince of Epirotes), referred to this area as a small village.[8]

Middle Ages and World War I

Left: The Bazaar at the turn of the 20th century. Right: The Old mosque of Tirana was built in 1614 and destroyed in the World War II.

Records from the first land registrations under the Ottomans in 1431–32 show that Tirana consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 2,028 houses and 7,300 inhabitants.[citation needed] Tirana is mentioned since 1572 as "Borgo di Tirana".[9] In 1614, Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler, built the Old mosque, a small commercial centre, and a hammam (Turkish bath).

During this period, the Et'hem Bey Mosque, built by Molla Bey of Petrela, was constructed. It employed the best artisans in the country and was completed in 1821 by Molla's son Etëhem, who was also Sulejman Bargjini's grandnephew. In 1800, the first newcomers arrived in the settlement, the so-called ortodoksit. They were Vlachs from villages near Korçë and Pogradec, who settled around modern day Park on the Artificial Lake.[10] They started to be known as the llacifac and were the first Christians to arrive after the creation of the town. After Serb reprisals in the Debar region, thousands of locals fled to Tirana. In 1807, Tirana became the center of the Sub-Prefecture of Krujë-Tirana.[citation needed] After 1816, Tirana languished under the control of the Toptani family of Krujë. Later, Tirana became a Sub-Prefecture of the newly created Vilayet of Shkodër and Sanjak of Durrës. In 1889, the Albanian language started to be taught in Tirana's schools, while the patriotic club Bashkimi was founded in 1908. On 28 November 1912, the national flag was raised in agreement with Ismail Qemali. During the Balkan Wars, the town was temporarily occupied by the Serbian army and it took part in uprising of the villages led by Haxhi Qamili. In 1917, the first city outline was compiled by Austro-Hungarian architects.[citation needed]

Construction in central Tirana was part of the cooperation package between King Zog and Fascist Italy

Monarchy

On 8 February 1920, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the temporary capital of Albania, which had gained independence in 1912.[11] The city retained that status permanently on 31 December 1925. In 1923, the first regulatory city plan was compiled by Austrian architects.[12] The centre of Tirana was the project of Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy. Brasini laid the basis for the modern-day arrangement of the ministerial buildings in the city centre. The plan underwent revisions by Albanian architect Eshref Frashëri, Italian architect Castellani and Austrian architects Weiss and Kohler.[citation needed] Modern Albanian parliamentary building served as a club of officers. It was there that, in September 1928, Zog of Albania was crowned King Zog I, King of the Albanians. Tirana served as the venue for the signing, between Fascist Italy and Albania, of the Pact of Tirana.

World War II and Socialism

Tirana's car-free Mother Teresa boulevard. In the evening, it turned into a big promenade known as the Xhiro.
The central square in 1991

In 1939, Tirana was captured by Fascist forces appointing a puppet government. In the meantime, Italian architect Gherardo Bosio was asked to elaborate on previous plans and introduce a new project in the area of present-day Mother Teresa Square.[13] By the early 1940s, the southern portion of the main boulevard and surrounding buildings were finished and renamed with Fascist names.[citation needed] A failed assassination attempt was made on Victor Emmanuel III of Italy by a local resistance activist during a visit in Tirana. In November 1941, two emissaries of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), Miladin Popović and Dušan Mugoša, managed to call a meeting of three Albanian communist groups and founded the Communist Party of Albania, of which Enver Hoxha would shortly emerge as the leader.

The town soon became the center of the Albanian communists, who mobilized locals against Italian fascists and later Nazi Germans, while spreading ideological propaganda. On 17 November 1944, the town was liberated after a fierce battle between the Communists and German forces.[citation needed] The Nazis eventually withdrew and the communists seized power.

From 1944 to 1991, the city experienced ordered development with a decline in architectural quality. Massive socialist-styled apartment complexes and factories began to be built, while Skanderbeg Square was redesigned with a number of buildings being demolished. For instance, Tirana's former Old Bazaar and the Orthodox Cathedral were razed to the ground for the erection of the Soviet-styled Palace of Culture. The Italian-built municipal building was detonated and the National Historical Museum was constructed instead, while the structure housing the Parliament of Albania during the monarchy was turned into a children's theater.[citation needed]

The northern portion of the main boulevard was renamed Stalin Boulevard and his statue was erected in the city square. Because private car ownership was banned, mass transportation consisted mainly of bicycles, trucks and buses. After Hoxha's death, a pyramidal museum was constructed in his memory by the government.[citation needed]

Prior to and after the proclamation of Albania's policy of self-imposed isolationism, a number of high-profile figures paid visits to the city, such as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and East German Foreign Minister Oskar Fischer. In 1985, Tirana served as the ceremonial venue of Enver Hoxha's funeral.[citation needed] A few years later, Mother Teresa became the first religious figure[citation needed] to visit the country following Albania's long declared anti-religious atheist stance. She paid respect to her mother and sister resting at a local cemetery. Starting at the campus and ending at Skanderbeg Square with the toppling of Enver Hoxha's statue, the city saw significant demonstrations by University of Tirana students, demanding political freedoms in the early 1990s.

Transition

Checkpoint memorial in Tirana featuring a bunker, walls from Spaç Prison, and a fragment of the Berlin Wall.

On the political aspect, the city witnessed a number of events. Personalities visited the capital, such as former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Pope John Paul II. The former visit came amidst the historical setting after the fall of communism, as hundreds of thousands were chanting in Skanderbeg Square Baker's famous saying of "Freedom works!".[citation needed] Pope John Paul II became the first major religious leader to visit Tirana, though Mother Teresa had visited few years prior.

During the Balkans turmoil in the mid-1990s, the city experienced dramatic events such as the unfolding of the 1997 unrest in Albania and a failed coup d'état on 14 September 1998. In 1999, following the Kosovo War, Tirana Airport became a NATO airbase, serving its mission in the former Yugoslavia.

Since 2000

Houses along the Lana River.

Starting in 2000, former Tirana mayor Edi Rama (mayor 2000 – 2011) under the Ilir Meta government, undertook a campaign to demolish illegal buildings around the city centre and on Lana River banks to bring the area to its pre-1990 state. In an attempt to widen roads, Rama authorized the bulldozing of private properties so that they could be paved over, thus widening streets. Most main roads underwent reconstruction, such the Ring Road (Unaza), Kavaja Street and the main boulevard. He has been accused of corruption and mismanagement of funds by the opposition, including corruption in the granting of building permits.[citation needed]

George W. Bush and Sali Berisha during a joint press conference in Tirana, in June 2007.

Rama led the initiative to paint the façades of Tirana's buildings in bright colours (known as Edi Rama colours – very bright pink, yellow, green, violet) although much of their interiors continued to degrade. Rama's critics claimed that he focused too much attention on cosmetic changes without fixing any of the major problems such as shortages of drinking water and electricity.[14][15] A richer calendar of events was introduced and a Municipal Police force established.

In 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush marked the first time that such a high ranking American official visited Tirana.[16] A central Tirana street was named in his honor. In 2008, the 2008 Gërdec explosions were felt in the capital as windows were shattered and citizens shaken. On 21 January 2011, Albanian police clashed with opposition supporters in front of the Government building as cars were set on fire, three persons killed and 150 wounded.[17] Since 2005 the southeast region of Tirana, mainly Farke and Petrela has had a burst becoming the preferred destination with many residence complexes being built and having the current biggest mall in Albania, TEG.[18][19] In the 2015 municipality election power was transferred from the Democratic Party of Albania, representative, Lulzim Basha, to the Socialist Party candidate Erion Veliaj.[20] The country underwent a territorial reform which unified communes with municipalities leaving 61 of them.[21] Thirteen of Tirana's communes were integrated as administrative units joining the existing eleven.[22] Since then Tirana is undergoing major changes in law enforcement and new projects as well as continuing the ones started by his predecessor. In their first few council meeting 242 social houses got allocated to needing families.[23] Construction permits were suspended until the capital's development plan is revised and synthesized.[22] In addition the municipality will audit all permits granted in the previous years.

Geography

Main article: Geography of Albania

Topography

Artificial Lake and Grand Park as seen from above.
The Bovilla Reservoir and surroundings north of Tirana seen from Mount Dajti

The Municipality of Tirana is located at (41.33°N, 19.82°E) in Tirana County, about 32 kilometers (20 mi) inland. Tirana's average altitude is 110 meters (360 ft) above sea level and its highest point measures 1,828 m (5,997.38 ft) at Mali me Gropa. The city is mostly surrounded by hills, with Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. The Tiranë river runs through the city, as does the Lanë stream.

The city has four artificial lakes: the Tirana Artificial Lake around which was built the Big Park, Paskuqani Lake, Farka Lake, Tufina Lake, and other smaller lakes or reservoirs.

The present Tirana municipality was formed at the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities Baldushk, Bërzhitë, Dajt, Farkë, Kashar, Krrabë, Ndroq, Petrelë, Pezë, Shëngjergj, Tirana, Vaqarr, Zall-Bastar and Zall-Herr, that became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the city Tirana.[24] The total population is 557,422 (2011 census), in a total area of 1,110.03 km2 (428.58 sq mi).[25] The population of the former municipality at the 2011 census was 418,495.[26]

Since June 2005 the Dajti Mountain National Park can be reached through the Dajti Express cable car.

Geology

Tirana is surrounded by the Dajti Mountain National Park on the east also on the southern and the western part of the City. Dajti Mountain's highest peak is at 1,613 metres (5,292 feet). In winter, the mountain is often covered with snow, and it is a popular retreat to the local population of Tirana that rarely sees snow falls. Its slopes have forests of pines, oak and beech, while its interior contains canyons, waterfalls, caves, a lake, and an ancient castle. The park has a surface area of 29,384 hectares, is highly frequented by day and considered the Natural Balcony of Tirana.

Dajti Mountain can be reached through a narrow asphalted mountain road onto an area known as Fusha e Dajtit.

Climate

Tirana has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa in the Köppen climate classification) and receives just enough summer precipitation to avoid Köppen's Csa Mediterranean climate classification, since every summer month has more than 40 millimetres (1.6 in) of rainfall,[27] with hot and moderately dry/humid summers and cool and wet winters. Some snow falls almost every winter, but it usually melts quickly.

Climate data for Tirana (1961–1990, extremes 1940–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 21.2
(70.2)
28.0
(82.4)
30.3
(86.5)
32.6
(90.7)
35.9
(96.6)
39.6
(103.3)
42.2
(108)
41.4
(106.5)
39.7
(103.5)
36.1
(97)
26.1
(79)
22.5
(72.5)
42.2
(108)
Average high °C (°F) 11.6
(52.9)
12.9
(55.2)
15.6
(60.1)
19.0
(66.2)
23.8
(74.8)
27.7
(81.9)
30.7
(87.3)
30.7
(87.3)
27.3
(81.1)
21.8
(71.2)
17.1
(62.8)
13.0
(55.4)
21.0
(69.8)
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.7
(44.1)
7.8
(46)
10.0
(50)
13.4
(56.1)
18.0
(64.4)
21.6
(70.9)
24.0
(75.2)
23.8
(74.8)
20.7
(69.3)
16.0
(60.8)
11.7
(53.1)
8.1
(46.6)
15.2
(59.4)
Average low °C (°F) 1.8
(35.2)
2.6
(36.7)
4.5
(40.1)
7.9
(46.2)
12.1
(53.8)
15.6
(60.1)
17.2
(63)
16.9
(62.4)
14.1
(57.4)
10.1
(50.2)
6.3
(43.3)
3.2
(37.8)
9.4
(48.9)
Record low °C (°F) −9.9
(14.2)
−9.4
(15.1)
−6.0
(21.2)
−1.0
(30.2)
3.4
(38.1)
6.2
(43.2)
4.2
(39.6)
10.6
(51.1)
5.5
(41.9)
−0.4
(31.3)
−4.3
(24.3)
−6.6
(20.1)
−9.9
(14.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 143
(5.63)
132
(5.2)
115
(4.53)
104
(4.09)
103
(4.06)
68
(2.68)
42
(1.65)
46
(1.81)
78
(3.07)
114
(4.49)
172
(6.77)
148
(5.83)
1,266
(49.84)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 13 13 14 13 12 7 5 4 6 9 16 16 128
Average relative humidity (%) 74 73 69 72 68 69 62 64 71 70 76 79 71
Mean monthly sunshine hours 124 125 165 191 263 298 354 327 264 218 127 88 2,544
Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst[28][29][note 1]
Source #2: Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)[30]

Environment

Tirana Grand Park on the Artificial Lake
Entrance of the Grand Park

The city suffers from problems related to overpopulation,[31] such as waste management, high levels of air pollution and significant noise pollution. Over the last decades, air pollution has become a pressing concern as the number of cars has increased. These are mostly 1990s and early 2000s diesel cars,[32] while it is widely believed that the fuel used in Albania contains larger amounts of sulfur and lead than in the European Union. Another source of pollution are PM10 and PM2.5 inhaled particulate matter and NO2 gases[33][34] resulting from rapid growth in the construction of new buildings and expanding road infrastructure.[35] Untreated solid waste is present in the city and outskirts. Additionally, there have been complaints of excessive noise pollution. Despite the problems, the Big Park at the Tirana Artificial Lake has some effect on absorbing CO2 emissions, while over 2 000 trees have been planted around sidewalks. The work of four new parks began in the summer of 2015 located in: Kashar, Farke, Vaqarr, and Dajt. these parks are part of the new urban planning striving to increase the concentration of green spaces in the capital.[36]

Government and politics

Capital

Tirana has been the capital of Albania 8 years after the independence of the First Republic in 1912. In 1920, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the capital of Albania. The first regulatory city plan was compiled in 1923 by Austrian architects. The center of Tirana was the project of Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy. Tirana continued with its status as the political and cultural centre of the country, being home to all the national institutions: the Government house, the Parliament, ministries, the presidential palace, the constitutional court, judicial bodies and other public organisations.

Administration

City Hall of Tirana

The Municipality of Tirana is divided into 24 administrative units referred to as Njësi Bashkiake/Administrative (Municipal/Administrative Units). These have their own appointed mayor and council, and sometimes are known as Mini-Bashki (Mini-Municipality).[37]

In 2000, the centre of Tirana from the central campus of Tirana University up to Skanderbeg Square was declared the place of Cultural Assembly, and given state protection. The historical core of the capital lies around pedestrian only Murat Toptani Street, while the most prominent city district is Blloku.

Until recently the city lacked a proper address system. In 2010, the municipality undertook the installing of street name signs and entrance numbers while every apartment entrance was physically stamped.[38]

Municipality[39] Inhabitants[40]
Tirana 1 51,007
Tirana 2 72,801
Tirana 3 43,100
Tirana 4 66,795
Tirana 5 74,936
Tirana 6 60,384
Tirana 7 61,362
Tirana 8 37,931
Tirana 9 51,599
Tirana 10 26,457
Tirana 11 61,095
Totally 607,467

City Council

The Tirana City Council is made out of 61 members, which are chosen every 4 years. It has 14 committees and its current Chairman is Aldrin Dalipi from the Socialist Party

Party / List Seats Percentage
Socialist Party 25 41%
Democratic Party 17 28%
LSI 13 21%
PDIU 3 5%
Others 3 5%
Total 61

[41]

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1703 4,000 —    
1820 12,000 +0.94%
1923 10,845 −0.10%
1937 35,000 +8.73%
1955 108,200 +6.47%
1985 200,000 +2.07%
2001 597,899 +7.08%
2011 749,365 +2.28%
Source: [42][43][44] [a]

According to data from the National Census in 2011, the Urban areas of Tirana include 526,017 people.

The rural areas of Tirana County, which are known as the suburbs of Tirana, include 223,348 people. Altogether, the figure for the whole county is counted as 749,365 people.

Tirana is home to three main religious groups: Sunni Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians.

The number of women slightly exceeds the number of men in the county, with 370,587 men, and 378,778 women.[45]

When it comes to religion, Muslims (including the large Bektashi minority in Albania) make up 65% of Tirana's population. About 11% of people in Tirana identify as some denomination of Christian, 3% are atheist, and 4% identify as "believers without denomination". An interesting stat in the religious makeup of Tirana is the 15% (113,000 people) who preferred not to answer the survey question.[45] This hesitance to not answer may come from the days of Communism in Albania under Enver Hoxha, where he famously proclaimed "The only religion for an Albanian is Albanianism," and then banned all organized religion in Albania.[46][47] ^a Population figures are given inside city limits at that time.

Education

There are many Universities located in Tirana. This brings a many of young students from other cities and countries to Tirana. Many private Universities have been opened during the recent years. Tirana is host to academic institutions such as the University of Tirana, Polytechnic University of Tirana, Agricultural University of Tirana, Academy of Physical Education and Sports, University of Arts (Academy of Arts of Albania), the Academy of Sciences of Albania, and the Skanderbeg Military University, national and international academic research institutions, as well as NGOs. English Base is an English Language school in Tirana.

Tirana has seen the creation of private academic institutions, including: Albanian University (U.F.O), Epoka University, University of New York, Tirana, European University of Tirana, Luarasi University, Academy of Film and Multimedia "Marubi".

The French computer science university Epitech is also located in the city.

Health

The healthcare system in Albania is mainly public. The private healthcare sector in Albania is still developing,[48] and it covers most of the pharmaceutical and dental services mainly being situated in Tirana. The largest hospital in Tirana is Mother Teresa Hospital, which is associated with University of Tirana, Faculty of Medicine. A number of private hospitals have been opened.

Economy

Tirana is the economic heart of Albania and home to most major Albanian and international companies operating in the country. Tirana began to develop at the beginning of the 16th century, when a bazaar was established, and its craftsmen manufactured silk and cotton fabrics, leather, ceramics and iron, silver, and gold artifacts.

According to the World Bank, Tirana has made significant steps of starting a business in 2016. Tirana ranks 10 among 22 cities in Southeastern Europe[49] before Belgrade, Serbia and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Many, especially foreign, companies that operate in the country, have their headquarters in the city. The Central Bank of Albania, Raiffeisen Albania, Banka Kombetare Tregtare, American Bank of Albania, Credins Bank Tirana Bank and Post of Albania are based in Tirana.

The three telecommunications providers Albanian Telecom , Vodafone Albania and Telekom Albania are located here. Taçi Oil, the biggest oil company in the Balkans, is also headquartered in Tirana. The SIGAL based in Tirana, is the leading insurance company in Albania, Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia.

The Toptani Shopping Center located in the heart of Tirana. left Tirana East Gate is one of the biggest shopping malls in the Balkans. right

AlbChrome a private company registered by, on account of Tirana, is the largest company in Albania in mineral industry and the second largest in Europe.[50] The ABA Business Center, the TID tower and the 4 Ever Green Tower, were being constructed in the city. Tirana has malls, such as Citypark, QTU, Toptani and Tirana East Gate. Stocks are traded at the Tirana Stock Exchange.

Neptun, the largest network of the electronics in Albania and one of the largest in the Balkans has their headquartered in the city. The first international fast food chain (KFC) in Albania, were also opened in Tirana at Tirana East Gate and Ish-Blloku.

Tourism

Tourism in Albania is developing year by year since the fall of communism and the capital city of Tirana become a very popular tourist destinations after the southern Albanian Riviera and northern part of the country. Tirana has a majority of luxury hotels, modern restaurants, bars, pubs and very big nightclubs.

The Taivani Center is a popular restaurant complex, as well as a poly-functional recreation center located in Rinia Park in downtown Tirana.

The largest hotels of the city are the Tirana International Hotel and The Tirana Plaza situated in the heart of the city near the Scanderbeg Square. The luxury Sheraton Hotel Tirana is also located in city center of Tirana, near central business district next to the National Arena. Other major hotels present in central Tirana include the Xheko Imperial Hotel, Rogner Hotel, the Best Western Premier Ark Hotel and the Mondial Hotel. The Hilton Hotel will open very soon in Tirana.

According to the Polish Tour Operators Association, Tirana has entered into the 10th most visited cities by the Poles.[51]

Tirana is a place that is known as a university center of students from regional countries like Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece. Its people are people that are known for hospitality and religious tolerance, where people in the city are mostly Muslims, but there are also Catholics, Orthodoxes, Atheists and people of other religions.

Tirana has a vibrant nightlife; many clubs that are open until dawn can be found throughout the city. Among the most popular nightclubs are Folie Terrace, Cinco Cavalli Night Club, Lollipop Club, Moscow Club and Mumja Club where world-famous disc jockeys and idiosyncratic local performances are frequent. Some of the most popular cafés in Tirana are Mon Chéri Coffee Shop, Sophie Caffe, Cioccolatitaliani Tirana, D'angelo Coffee Shop and The Tea Room.

Most tourists to the city come from Greece, Italy, Kosovo and Europe, with the number of visitors from elsewhere growing every year, thanks to an increasing number of international airline arrivals at Mother Teresa International Airport as well as luxury cruises that arrive into the Port of Durrës that offers day trip's to the City.

Transportation

The Tirana-Elbasan highway is currently under construction

The city serves as the meeting point for national roads SH1, SH2 and SH3. Construction of the outer big ring highway started in 2011.

National Road 1 (SH1) leads to the Albanian – Montenegrin border at Hani i Hotit border crossing. From Tirana at the Kamza Bypass (Mbikalimi i Kamzës) northward, it passes through Fushë-Kruja, Milot, Lezha, Shkodra, and Koplik. Between Thumane and Milot, the SH1 has become part of the Albania – Kosovo Highway connecting the capital Tirana with Kosovo. SH1 forms part of the Albanian North-South Corridor connecting Hani i Hotit border with Kakavijë in the Albanian – Greek border thus forming part of the Adriatic-Ionian motorway.

National Road 2 (SH2) is a dual carriageway in Albania linking the port city of Durrës with Tirana. SH2 begins at the Port of Durrës in Durrës at the Dajlani Overpass, bypasses Shijak, intersects with SH52 in Vora, bypasses the road to Tirana International Airport, and ends at the Kamza Overpass in the outskirts of Tirana where it meets National Road 1 State Road heading to northern Albania.

The Albanian Motorway Road A3 it is planned to run along the central corridor of Albania from Tirana to southern Albania, whose first part is the Tirana–Elbasan Highway connecting Tirana with the Pan-European Transport Corridor VIII. The section from Tirana to Elbasan, will be an alternative to the old curvy road SH3 along Krraba Pass. The new highway bypasses the heavy traffic via Durrës-Rrogozhina. In addition, the new track about 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) shorter than the path to the SH3, resulting in drastically reduced distance with much higher speed between Tirana and Elbasan. Economically, after completion it will be an important link between the Albanian capital and Greece.

There are passenger services to Durrës and Librazhd, via Elbasan. As of September 2013, the Tirana Railway Station north of Skanderbeg Square was dismantled and moved to Kashar, the latter renovated in May 2015.[citation needed] The existing line was replaced with a bus service located alongside the coach terminal at the north end of Boulevard Zogu I. The line extending from Librazhd to Pogradec was discontinued in 2012. There are no international passenger services, although there is a freight-only railway through Shkodër to Montenegro. In the northwestern district of Tirana, Laprakë a new station will be built, which is planned as a multi-functional terminal for railway, tram and bus. Until its opening, the railway transport between Tirana and Kashar remains closed.[52]

Tirana International Airport is Albania's only international airport and is located close to the country's capital Tirana. The airport is located in the village of Rinas 6 nautical miles (11 kilometres; 6.9 miles) northwest[53] of Tirana. The Airport has flights to numerous European destinations. Among the companies that fly from there are Aegean Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Eurowings, Lufthansa, Pegasus Airlines, Transavia France and Turkish Airlines. The destinations are mainly European. It is an international airport that handles over 1.9 million passengers per year. It is the only port of entry for air travelers to Albania. Tirana International Airport is a focus city for Adria Airways of Slovenia, Alitalia and Blue Panorama Airlines of Italy. The airport is named after Mother Teresa, Albanian Roman Catholic nun and missionary.

Ecovolis Bicycle sharing scheme

Tirana is served by the port of Durrës, 36 km (22 mi) distant from the capital. Passenger ferries from Durrës sail to Trieste, Ancona, Otranto, Brindisi, Bari, Genoa (Italy), Zadar, Dubrovnik (Croatia), Koper (Slovenia), Bar (Montenegro), Corfu (Greece) and others. Kavaja is included in the Tirana County also.

Local transport within Tirana is by bus or taxi. Official taxis have yellow plates with red text and usually use taximeter. Coach and minibus (furgon) services also run to the coast and northern and southern Albania from Tirana. International coach services connect to Greece, via Korçë or Kakavije, to Kosovo[note 2] via the new Durrës-Morine highway, and to the Republic of Macedonia via Struga.

In 2012, Tirana municipality published a report according to which a project on the construction of two tram lines was under evaluation. The tram lines would have a total length of 16.7 kilometres (10.4 miles). The public transport in Tirana is, for now, focused only in the city centre, so that the people living in the suburbs have fewer or no public transport connections. The municipality believes that pedestrian areas in the city centre will also be created with the construction of the tram lines. Under the plan, the two tram lines will intersect in the Skanderbeg Square. The current public transport system in Tirana is made of ten bus lines served by 250 to 260 buses every day. The development of the tram network will provide an easier access to the city centre and beyond to necessary facilities, such as leisure areas or jobs without using personal vehicles.[54]

The Ecovolis bicycle sharing system was launched in 2011.[55] Bicycles are rented from initially four stations located at Rinia Park and along Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard. A full day ride costs 100 leks. Bike only lanes are located alongside existing sidewalks on Skanderbeg Square, Lana River and Kavaja Street, while combined bus and bike lanes are located on other main streets to alleviate overall congestion.

Culture

Tirana is home to the largest cultural institutions of the country, such as the National Theatre of Albania and the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania, the Archaeological Museum, the Art Gallery of Albania, the Sciences Museum of Albania and the National Historical Museum. Among the local institutions are the National Library of Albania which has more than a million books, periodicals, maps, atlases, microfilms and other library materials. Tirana has five well-preserved traditional houses (museum-houses), 56 cultural monuments, eight public libraries and the National Library of Albania Biblioteka Kombëtare.[56] Since 2011, a Tourist Information Office was opened, located behind the National History Museum, with useful information on Tirana and Albania.

There are many foreign cultural institutions in Tirana, including the German Goethe-Institut,[57] Friedrich Ebert Foundation[58] and the British Council.[59] Other cultural centers in Tirana are, Canadian Institute of Technology, Chinese Confucius Institute, Greek Hellenic Foundation for Culture,[60] Italian Istituto Italiano di Cultura[61] and the French Alliance Française.[62] The Information Office of the Council of Europe was established in Tirana.

The three main religions in Albania are Islam, Orthodox and Catholic Christianity. They all have their headquarters in Tirana. The Bektashi leadership moved to Albania and established their World Headquarters also in the city of Tirana.

One of the major annual events taking place in Tirana each year is the Tirana International Film Festival.[63] It was the first international cinema festival in Albania. This extraordinary cultural event created in 2003 is the most important cinematic event in Albania.

Museums

The mosaics above the entrance of the Historical Museum

The largest museum in Tirana is the National Historical Museum which details the history of the country. It was opened on 28 October 1981 and is 27,000 square metres (290,000 square feet) in size, while 18,000 square metres (190,000 square feet) are available for exhibitions. It keeps some of the best archeological finds in Albania, dating from Prehistory to the Ottoman period. The Museum includes the following pavilions: Pavilion of Antiquity, Pavilion of the Middle Ages, Pavilion of Renaissance, Pavilion of Independence, Pavilion of Iconography, Pavilion of the National Liberation Antifascist War, Pavilion of Communist Terror, and Pavilion of Mother Teresa. The Pavilion of Mother Teresa is dedicated to her family, life and work.

The visitors are acquainted with her charitable work for which she has been assigned with many international awards. In the stands of the pavilion there are photos of global personalities who met Mother Teresa as Jacques Chirac, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Ibrahim Kodra etc. Undoubtedly, the personal objects used by her increase the curiosity of thousands of visitors in the National History Museum.

The National Arts Gallery

The National Archaeological Museum is the national archaeological museum is the first museum created after World War II in the Albania. It was opened in 1948 as Ethnographic-Archeological Museum. The museum houses exhibits from prehistoric and historic times up to Middle Ages. More than 2000 items are displayed and these items range from ancient jewellery, to Roman statues, to vast clay pots covered in shellfish that have been found during the many archaeological field trips the museum is involved in. It is also responsible for conducting many archaeological expeditions in the country and is the parent institution of several other museums in the country including the Durrës Archaeological Museum. It has a library of some 7200 volumes.

The National Art Gallery of Albania opened to the public on 11 January 1954. The museum preserves/conserves over 5000 artworks. Besides the permanent collection which is focused on Socialist Realism art, famous Albanian artists, international ones and important collections have been part of the different exhibitions in the National Gallery of Arts. An important policy of the NGA activities are also the educational programs, where many children and students participate.. Visitors of the National Gallery have the opportunity to enjoy the activities and the exhibitions’ rich program, to know more about Albanian visual art.

Architecture

Tirana is home to different architectural styles that represent influential periods in its history. The architecture of Tirana as the capital of the country, was marked by two totalitarian regimes, by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini during the World War II and the communist regime. Both have left their mark on the city with their typically architecture.

Left: The Skanderbeg Square is the most popular meeting point. Right: The ministries buildings.

In addition to the objects of the architecture of the totalitarian regimes of 20th century, Tirana offers a couple of other such objects of both periods. The Palace of Brigades (former Palace of the Albania's King Zog I), the ministries buildings, the government building and the municipality hall are designed by Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, both well-known architects of the Mussolini period in Italy. The Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard was built in 1930 and given the name King Zog I Boulevard. In the communist period, the part from Skanderbeg Square up to the train station was named Stalin Boulevard. The Royal Palace or Palace of Brigades previously served as the official residence of King Zog I. It has been used by different Albanian governments for various purposes. Because of the outbreak of World War II, and the 1939 Italian invasion of Albania, King Zog I fled Albania and never had a chance to see the Palace fully constructed. The Italians finished it and used it as the Army Headquarters. The Palace took its nickname Palace of Brigades because it was taken from the Italians by a people army brigade.[64]

In the 21th century, Tirana turned into a proper modernist city, with large blocks of flats, modern new buildings, new shopping centres and many green spaces. On June 2016, the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and the Italian architect Stefano Boeri announced the start of the works for the redaction of the Mster Plan Tirana 2030.

Monuments

Media

The media in Tirana include some of the most important newspapers, largest publishing houses and most prolific television studio of Albania. Tirana is the largest communications center of media in Albania. Almost all of the major media organizations in Albania are based in Tirana. The television industry developed in Tirana and is a significant employer in the city's economy. Some broadcast networks, RTSH, Top Channel, Top Channel, IN TV (Albania) and Vizion Plus, are all headquartered in Tirana. Radio stations operate in the capital, with the most notable being Radio Tirana, commercial Top Albania Radio and NRG Albania. Tirana is home to the publication of dailies including Shqip, Zëri i Popullit, Shekulli, Gazeta Shqiptare and Koha Jonë. Digitalb and Tring, the two biggest Albanian media, digital satellite and terrestrial TV platform are also based in Tirana. Also editions of national magazines such as Anabel,[65] Elegance,[66] Who[67] and international magazines such as Grazia,[68] OK![69] and others have their headquarters based in the city.

Sports

Football is by far the most popular sport in Tirana. It is popular at every level of society, from children to wealthy professionals. The city's best known football clubs are KF Tirana, Partizani Tirana, and Dinamo Tirana. In football, as of April 2012, the Tirana-based teams have won a combined 57 championships out of 72 championships organized by the FSHF, i.e. 79% of them.

In Tirana there are two major stadiums, the former Qemal Stafa Stadium, that held around 20,000 spectators and the Selman Stërmasi stadium which holds around 12,000 spectators. The former was demolished in June 2016 to make way for a new national stadium.[70] The new stadium called the National Arena will be constructed on the same site of the former Qemal Stafa Stadium and it is planned to open in 2018. It will have an underground parking, a hotel, shops and bars and will be used for entertainment events. Tirana's sports infrastructure is developing fast because of the investments from the municipality and the government.

From 2007 Tirana Municipality has built up to 80 sport gardens in most of Tirana's neighborhoods. One of the latest projects is the reconstruction of the existing Olympic Park that will provide infrastructure for most intramural sports.[71]

Tirana was the host of FIBA EuroBasket 2006 Division C, 2011 World Mountain Running Championships and the 2013 European Weightlifting Championships.

Notable people

Below are some of the most notable personalities born in Tirana or that spent most of their lives in Tirana:

Twin towns – sister cities

Tirana is twinned with:[citation needed]

Gallery

See also

Notes and references

Notes
  1. ^ Station ID for Tirana is 13615 Use this station ID to locate the sunshine duration
  2. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received recognition as an independent state from 110 out of 193 United Nations member states.
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Further reading

External links

  1. ^ Each of the 11 divisions is an administrative unit