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Tirana

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Tirana
Skanderbeg square tirana 2016.jpg
Toptani Shopping Mall Tirana 2016.jpg
Tirana Kapllan Pasha Tomb.jpg
Catedral de la Resurección de Cristo, Tirana, Albania, 2014-04-17, DD 13.JPG
Tirana 33.jpg
Castillo de Petrela, Petrela, Albania, 2014-04-17, DD 07.JPG
City Hall of Tirana.jpg
Tirana from South.jpg
Clockwise from top: The Skanderbeg Square, Kapllan Pasha Tomb, Post Block memorial, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Dajt and Grand Park of Tirana, Petrelë Castle, Resurrection Cathedral and Toptani Shopping Center.
Flag of Tirana.svg

Flag
Stema e Bashkisë Tiranë.svg

Seal
Tirana is located in Albania
Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is located in Europe
Tirana
Tirana
Coordinates: 41°19′44″N 19°49′04″E / 41.32889°N 19.81778°E / 41.32889; 19.81778
CountryAlbania
RegionCentral Albania
CountyTirana
Settled1614
Government
 • TypeGovernment
 • MayorErion Veliaj (Socialist Party)
 • Council ChairmanAldrin Dalipi
Area
 • Municipality1,110.03 km2 (428.58 sq mi)
 • Urban
41.8 km2 (16.1 sq mi)
Elevation
110 m (360 ft)
Population
(2011)
 • Municipality
557,422[1]
Demonym(s)Tiranas (m) Tiranase (f)
Tirons (m) Tironse (f) (local dialect)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
1001–1028, 1031
Area code(s)04
Vehicle registrationTR
HDI (2018)0.847[2]very high
WebsiteOfficial Website

Tirana (/tɪˈrɑːnə/ (About this soundlisten); Albanian pronunciation: [tiˈɾaːna]; Gheg Albanian: Tirona) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Albania.

Tirana is located in the center of Albania and is enclosed by mountains and hills, with Dajt on the east and a slight valley on the northwest overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. Due to its location within the Plain of Tirana and the close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the city is particularly influenced by a Mediterranean seasonal climate. It is among the wettest and sunniest cities in Europe, with 2,544 hours of sun per year.[3][4]

Tirana flourished as a city in 1614 but the region that today corresponds to the city's territory has been continuously inhabited since the Iron Age. The city's territory was inhabited by several Illyrian tribes but had no importance within Illyria. Indeed, it was annexed by Rome and became an integral part of the Roman Empire following the Illyrian Wars. The heritage of that period is still evident and represented by the Mosaics of Tirana. Later, in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Paleochristian basilica was built around this site.

After the Roman Empire split into East and West in the 4th century, its successor the Byzantine Empire took control over most of Albania, and built the Petrelë Castle in the reign of Justinian I. The city was fairly unimportant until the 20th century, when the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed it as Albania's capital, after the Albanian Declaration of Independence in 1912.

Tirana is the most important economic, financial, political and trade center in Albania due to its significant location in the center of the country and its modern air, maritime, rail and road transportation. It is the seat of power of the Government of Albania, with the official residences of the President and Prime Minister of Albania, and the Parliament of Albania.

History

Early history

Ancient mosaics from the 3rd century.

The discovery of the Pellumbas Cave near Tirana shows that ancient human culture was present in Albania as early as the Paleolithic era.[5][6][7] Nonetheless, the oldest discovery within the urban area of Tirana was a Roman house, which was transformed into an aisleless church with a mosaic floor, dating to the 3rd century, with other remains found near a medieval temple at Shengjin Fountain in the eastern suburbs. A castle possibly called Tirkan, whose remnants are found along Murat Toptani Street, was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and restored by Ahmed Pasha Toptani in the 18th century.[8] The area had no special importance in Illyrian and classical times.

Castle of Petrelë, built in the 6th century by Justinian I.

Tirana is mentioned in Venetian documents in 1418, one year after the Ottoman conquest of the area: "...the resident Pjeter, son of late Domenik from the village of Tirana...".[9] Records of 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] 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, distinguishing between "Little Tirana" and "Great Tirana".[9] It is later mentioned in 1572 as Borgo di Tirana.[10]

According to Hahn, the settlement had already started to develop as a bazaar and included several watermills,[11] even before 1614, when Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler, built the Old Mosque, a small commercial centre, and a hammam (Turkish bath). This is confirmed by oral sources, which state that there were two earlier mosques 300-400 m from the Old Mosque, towards today's Ali Demi Street. The Mosque of Reç and the Mosque of Mujo were positioned on the left side of the Lana river and were older than the Old Mosque.[11] Later, 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 great-nephew. In 1800, the first newcomers arrived in the settlement[clarification needed], the so-called ortodoksit. They were Vlachs from villages near Korçë and Pogradec, who settled around modern day Tirana Park on the Artificial Lake.[12] 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,[when?] thousands of locals fled to Tirana.[citation needed] In 1807, Tirana became the center of the Subprefecture of Krujë-Tirana.[citation needed] After 1816, Tirana languished under the control of the Toptani family of Krujë.[citation needed] Later, Tirana became a sub-prefecture of the newly created Vilayet of Shkodër and the Sanjak of Durrës.

Modern

The Old Bazaar at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1889, the Albanian language started to be taught in Tirana's schools,[citation needed] and the patriotic club Bashkimi was founded in 1908. On 28 November 1912, the national flag was raised in agreement[clarification needed] with President Ismail Qemali. During the Balkan Wars, the city was temporarily occupied by the Serbian army and it took part in uprising of the villages led by Haxhi Qamili. In August 1916, the first city map was compiled by the specialists of the Austro-Hungarian army.[13] On 8 February 1920, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the temporary capital of Albania, which had gained independence in 1912.[14] The city acquired that status permanently on 31 December 1925. In 1923, the first regulatory city plan was compiled by Austrian architects.[15] The centre of Tirana was the project of Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well-known architects of the 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] The modern Albanian parliament building served as an officers' club. It was there that, in September 1928, Zog of Albania was crowned King Zog I, King of the Albanians. Tirana was the venue for the signing of the Pact of Tirana between Fascist Italy and Albania.

The city in 1991.

In 1939, Tirana was captured by Fascist forces, who appointed 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.[16] A failed assassination attempt was made on Victor Emmanuel III of Italy by a local resistance activist during a visit to Tirana. In November 1941, two emissaries of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), Miladin Popović and Dušan Mugoša, called a meeting of three Albanian communist groups[citation needed] and founded the Communist Party of Albania, and Enver Hoxha soon emerged as its 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.

In 1988, the first outsiders were allowed to walk into Skanderbeg Square.

From 1944 to 1991, massive socialist-style apartment complexes and factories were built, while Skanderbeg Square was redesigned, with a number of buildings demolished. For instance, Tirana's former Old Bazaar and the Orthodox Cathedral were razed to the ground in order to build the Soviet-styled Palace of Culture. 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]

Before 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, Enver Hoxha's funeral was held in Tirana.[citation needed] A few years later, Mother Teresa became the first religious figure[citation needed] to visit the country after the end of Albania's long anti-religious atheist stance. She paid respects 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.

Post-communism

The Mustafa Matohiti Street is known as Rruga e Salës among the locals, named after former Prime Minister Sali Berisha.[17]
Blloku district. After the fall of communism in Albania, a dramatic growth of new developments has taken place, with many new exclusive flats and apartments.

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!".[18] 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.

Starting in 2000, former Tirana mayor Edi Rama (mayor from 2000 to 2011) under the Ilir Meta government, undertook a campaign to demolish illegal buildings around the city centre and along the 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. 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.[19][20] A richer calendar of events was introduced and a Municipal Police force established.

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, the Tirana East Gate (TEG).[21][22] In 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush marked the first time that such a high ranking American official visited Tirana.[23] A central Tirana street was named in his honor.

In 2008, the 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.[24]

Present-day

Europe Park as part of the redesigned Skanderbeg Square

Following the 2015 municipal elections, power was transferred from the Democratic Party representative Lulzim Basha, to the Socialist Party candidate Erion Veliaj.[25] The country underwent a territorial reform, in which defunct communes were merged with municipalities, leaving only 61 of them in total.[26] Thirteen of Tirana's former communes were integrated as administrative units joining the existing eleven.[27] Since then, Tirana is undergoing major changes in law enforcement and new projects, as well as continuing the ones started by Veliaj's predecessor. In their first few council meetings, 242 social houses got allocated to families in need.[28] Construction permits were suspended until the capital's development plan is revised and synthesized.[27] In addition the municipality will audit all permits granted in the previous years.

In 2016, Skanderbeg Square was redesigned according to an earlier plan brought forward in 2010. This included greater green space areas around the square, underground parking, and the introduction of stone material taken from all corners of Albania and Albanian-inhabited lands. Albania's rich flora were represented by the gardens around the square, while the former garden behind Skanderbeg's monument was restored to its pre-2010 state and named Europe Park. Once the project is completed, the square will serve as a venue for the Village of Festivities, concerts, and where surrounding institutions would showcase themselves[clarification needed] in an open environment concept such as in the yearly Nuit Blanche on November 29.

The New Boulevard (Bulevardi i Ri) on the site of the northern part of Zog I Boulevard at the defunct Tirana station was opened recently, laying the foundation for the development of Tirana north of Skanderbeg Square and south of the Tirana River. The new headquarters of Tirana City Hall are planned to be built along the New Boulevard together with a central park located nearby.

The architect Stefano Boeri was contracted to work on the General Urban Plan of Tirana (TR030), which makes a series of interventions to the city's infrastructure. The plan was submitted for approval to the Municipality Council in November 2016.[29]

Environment

Geography

A Satellite imagery illustrating the Tirana Metropolitan Area.

Tirana is located in the Plain of Tirana in the center of Albania between the mount of Dajti and the mountains of Mali me Gropa, and a valley to the northwest overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The average altitude is about 110 meters (360 ft) above sea level, with a maximum of 1,828 metres (5,997 feet).[clarification needed][is that in the city??][30]

The city is 501 kilometres (311 miles) north of Athens, 613 kilometres (381 miles) southeast of Rome, 131 kilometres (81 miles) south of Podgorica in Montenegro, 153 kilometres (95 miles) southwest of Skopje in Northern Macedonia and 250 kilometres (160 miles) from Pristina in Kosovo.

The city is surrounded by two important protected areas: the Dajti National Park and Mali me Gropa-Bizë-Martanesh Protected Landscape. In winter, the mountains are often covered with snow and are a popular retreat for the population of Tirana, which rarely receives snowfalls. In terms of biodiversity, the forests are mainly composed of pine, oak and beech, while its interior relief[clarification needed] is dotted with canyons, waterfalls, caves, lakes and other landforms.[31] Thanks to its natural heritage, it is considered the "Natural Balcony of Tirana". The mountain can be reached by a narrow asphalt mountain road onto an area known as Fusha e Dajtit. From this small area there is an excellent view of Tirana and its plain.

Tiranë river flows through the city, as does the Lanë river. Tirana is home to several artificial lakes, including Tirana, Farka, Tufina, and Kashar. The present municipality was formed in the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities of Baldushk, Bërzhitë, Dajt, Farkë, Kashar, Krrabë, Ndroq, Petrelë, Pezë, Shëngjergj, Tirana, Vaqarr, Zall-Bastar and Zall-Herr, which became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the city of Tirana.[32]

Climate

Snow at Dajti National Park, it generally melts quickly in the region.[33]

Defined by the Köppen climate classification, the city has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) and receives a commensurably amount of precipitation, during summer, to avoid the mediterranean climate (Csa) classification, since every summer month receives more than 40 millimetres (1.6 in) of rainfall, with hot and moderately dry or humid summers and cool and wet winters. It lies on the boundary between Zone 7 and Zone 9 in terms of the hardiness zone.[34]

The average precipitation is about 1,266 millimetres (49.8 inches) per year. The city receives the majority of precipitation in winter months, which occurs from November to March, and less in summer months from June to September. In terms of precipitation, both rain and snow, the city is ranked among the wettest cities in the European Continent.[4]

Temperatures vary throughout the year from an average of 6.7 °C (44.1 °F) in January to 24 °C (75 °F) in July. Springs and summers are very warm to hot often reaching over 20 °C (68 °F) from June to September. During autumn and winter, from November to March, the temperature drops and is not lower than 6.7 °C (44.1 °F). The city receives approximately 2500 hours of sun making it one of the sunniest cities in the European Continent.[35]

Urbanism

The Artificial Lake was built from local waters in 1955.

In September 2015, Tirana organized its first vehicle-free day, joining forces with numerous cities across the globe to fight against the existing problem of urban air pollution. This initiative resulted in a considerable drop in both air and noise pollution, encouraging the Municipality to organize a vehicle-free day every month.[citation needed]

The city suffers from problems related to overpopulation,[39] 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,[40] while it is widely believed that the fuel used in Albania contains larger amounts of sulfur and lead than in the European Union. Effective January 1, 2019, the government has imposed an import ban of used vehicles made prior to 2005 in an effort to curb pollution, encourage the buying of new cars from certified domestic dealerships, and to improve overall road safety. Another source of pollution are PM10 and PM2.5 inhaled particulate matter and NO2 gases[41][42] resulting from rapid growth in the construction of new buildings and expanding road infrastructure.[43]

Untreated solid waste is present in the city and outskirts. Additionally, there have been complaints of excessive noise pollution. Despite the problems, the Grand Park at the Artificial Lake has some effect on absorbing CO2 emissions, while over 2.000 trees have been planted around sidewalks. Works for four new large parks have started in the summer of 2015 located in Kashar, Farkë, Vaqarr, and Dajt. These parks are part of the new urban plan striving to increase the concentration of green spaces in the capital.[44] The government has included designated green areas around Tirana as part of the Tirana Greenbelt where construction is not permitted or limited.[45][46]

Cityscape

Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well-known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy, designed the city plan for Tirana, in Neo-Renaissance style with articulate angular solutions and giant order fascias.

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

In addition to the objects of the architecture of the totalitarian regimes of the 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.

Skanderbeg Square in the center of Tirana.

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.[47]

In the 21st century, Tirana turned into a proper modernist city, with large blocks of flats, modern new buildings, new shopping centres and many green spaces. In 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 Master Plan Tirana 2030.[citation needed]

The entrance of the Grand Park of Tirana.

The city of Tirana is a densely-built area but still offers several public parks throughout its districts, graced with green gardens. With an area of 230 hectare, the Grand Park is the largest park in the city. It is one of most visited areas by local citizens.[48] The park includes many children's playgrounds, sport facilities and landmarks such as the Saint Procopius Church, the Presidential Palace, the Botanical Gardens, the Tirana Zoo, the Amphitheatre, the Monument of the Frashëri Brothers and many others.

The Rinia Park was built during the Communist regime in Albania. It bordered by Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard to the east, Gjergi Fishta Boulevard and Bajram Curri Boulevard to the south, Rruga Ibrahim Rugova to the west and Rruga Myslym Shyri to the north. The Taivani Center is the main landmark in the park and houses cafés, restaurants, fountains, and a bowling lane in the basement. The Summer Festival takes place every year in the park, to celebrate the end of winter and the rebirth of nature and a rejuvenation of spirit amongst the Albanians. As of the current Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, the Municipality of Tirana will build more green spaces and will plant more trees.[49]

Demography

Population

Demographic evolution of Tirana
Year17031820192319371955198920012011
Pop.4,00012,00010,84535,000108,200324,532430,407557,422
±% p.a.—    +0.94%−0.10%+8.73%+6.47%+3.28%+2.38%+2.62%
Source: [50][51][52][53][a][54]

In the 2011 census, the municipality of Tirana had an official population of 418,495 and a population density of 502 inhabitants per square kilometre constituting the largest municipality of Albania by population.[55] The encompassing metropolitan area, which is made up of the regions of Tirana and Durrës, have a combined population of approximately 1 million constituting nearly one third of the country's total population.[56]

Tirana is the largest city of Albania by population and area.

The municipality's population features a mixture of different cultural and ethnic groups of Southern Europe. The five most populous ethnicities are Albanians (84.10%), Greeks (0.35%), Aromanians (0.11%), Macedonians (0.07%) and Italians (0.03%).[57]

The population of the municipality of Tirana has seen a steady increase in the recent years especially during the fall of communism in the 1990s and the beginnings of the 21th century. The remarkable growth was, and still is, largely fueled by migrants from all over the country often in search of employment and improved living conditions.

Between 1820 and 1955, the population of Tirana tenfolded and during the period 1989 to 2011, the city's population grew annually by approximately 2.7%. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the city had a rate of growth less than 1% annually until the 1973s, then down to less than 8% per year until the middle 20th century figures.

Religion

Religion in Tirana [58]
Islam
55.7%
Orthodoxy
6.4%
Catholicism
5.4%
Bektashism
3.4%
Other (mostly undeclared and non-religious)
29.1%

In Albania, a secular state with no state religion, the freedom of belief, conscience and religion is explicitly guaranteed in the constitution of Albania.[59][60] Tirana is religiously diverse and has many places of worship catering to its religious population whom are adherents of Christianity, Islam and Judaism but also of Atheism and Agnosticism.

In the 2011 census, 55.7% of the population of the municipality was counted as Muslim, 3.4% as Bektashis and 11.8% as Christian including 5.4% as Roman Catholic and 6.4% as Eastern Orthodox.[61] The remaining 29.1% of the population reported having no religion or did not provided an adequate answer. The census of 2011 did not included specific municipality level data for other religious groups.

The Roman Catholic Church is represented in Tirana by the Archdiocese of Tiranë and Durrës, with the St Paul's Cathedral as the current seat of the prelacy. The Albanian Orthodox community is served by the Archbishop of Tirana in the Resurrection Cathedral.

Economy

The Toptani Center was designed by Dutch architect Winy Maas and is located near the center of Tirana.

Tirana is the heart of the economy of Albania and the most industrialised and economically fastest growing region in Albania. Of the main sectors, the tertiary sector is the most important for the economy of Tirana and employs more than 68% of work force of Tirana.[62] 26% of the working population makes up the secondary sector followed by the primary sector with only 5%.[62]

The city began to develop at the beginning of the 16th century as it was part of the Ottoman Empire, when a bazaar was established, and its craftsmen manufactured silk and cotton fabrics, leather, ceramics and iron, silver and gold artefacts.[63] In the 20th century, the city and its surrounding areas expanded rapidly and became the most heavily industrialised region of the country.

The most significant contribution is made by the tertiary sector which has developed considerably since the fall of communism in Albania. Forming the financial center of the country, the financial industry is a major component of the city's tertiary sector and remains in good conditions overall due to privatization and the commendable monetary policy.[64] All of the most important financial institutions, such as the Bank of Albania and the Albanian Stock Exchange are centred in Tirana as well as most of the banking companies such as the Banka Kombëtare Tregtare, Raiffeisen Bank, Credins Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank and Tirana Bank.

The Plaza Hotel Tirana is placed in the center of Tirana.

The telecommunication industry represents another major and growing contributor to the sector.[65] A rapid development occurred as well as after the end of communism and decades of isolationism mainly due to the new national policy of reform and opening up sped up the industry's development. Vodafone, Telekom Albania and Eagle are the leading telecommunication providers in Tirana, as in all the country.

The tourism industry of the city has expanded in recent years to become a vital component of the economy.[66] Tirana has been officially dubbed as 'The Place Beyond Belief' by local authorities.[67] The increasing number of international arrivals at the Tirana International Airport and Port of Durrës from across Europe, Australia and Asia has rapidly grown the number of foreign visitors in the city.[68][69]

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.

Transport

The international airport of Tirana is located in the northeast of the city.

Tirana is currently served by the Tirana International Airport as it simultaneously serves as the premier gateway to the country and carries almost 2.5 million passengers per year with connections to many destinations in different countries across the European Continent.[70][71] The airport is officially named in honour of the Albanian Roman Catholic nun and missionary Mother Teresa.

The tunnel of Krrabë is part of the A3 motorway.

Tirana is an important transportation junction in Albania in air, rail and road transportation. A range of expressways and motorways, such as the SH1, SH2, SH3 and A3, radiate out the city. The SH1 and SH3 significantly connects Tirana to Montenegro and Greece respectively otherwise the city has direct access to Durrës on the Adriatic Sea through the SH2.

Construction of the outer big ring highway started in 2011 and currently the southern portion has been completed. From Tirana at the Kamza Overpass (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.

The SH2 national road in linking Tirana with the port city of Durrës. The road was the first highway to be reconstructed in Albania following the end of communism in 1991.
Tirana Southern Outer Ring in 2018

The Albanian Motorway 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.

In recent years, in anticipation of the construction of the new Multi-Modal Terminal near the Kamza Overpass at the entrance of Tirana, the Municipality of Tirana has opened several temporary bus terminals mainly along Dritan Hoxha St and Student City to regulate the chaos of public transport between towns in Tirana. These terminals serve Northern, Southern and Southeastern Albania including Durrës, and Kosovo and International bound coaches.

There are passenger services to Durrës and Librazhd, via Elbasan. As of September 2013, the Tirana Railway Station north of the 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 Zogu I Boulevard. The line extending from Librazhd to Pogradec to the south-east was discontinued in 2012. There are no international passenger services, although there is a freight-only railway through Shkodër to Montenegro. In the north-western 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.[72] The new railway line from Tirana via Rinas (Tirana International Airport) to the port city of Durrës, is currently planned to be built. The location of this railway, as the most populated urban areas in Albania, makes it an important economic development project.[73] The opening will take place in 2019.[74]

Local Ecovolis bicycle sharing scheme near the city center. In addition, Mobike service launched in 2018.

The city of Tirana is served by the Port of Durrës, one of the largest passenger port in the Adriatic Sea, 36 km (22 mi) distant from the city. Passenger ferries from Durrës sail to Dubrovnik, Zadar (Croatia), Corfu (Greece), Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Genoa, Otranto, Trieste (Italy), Bar (Montenegro), Koper (Slovenia) and other cities in the region. 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.

Porcelani bus line serving Dajti Mt Cable Car in Tirana

In 2018, international bicycle sharing system Mobike was launched in Tirana.[75] Another bicycle sharing system called Ecovolis launched in 2011.[76] 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.

Another plan is to bring back the old train station on the New Boulevard using lighter rail connecting Tirana with Durrës via Rinas Airport.

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.[77]

Politics

Kryeministria, the official workplace of the Prime Minister of Albania. (left) The Ministry of Internal Affairs close to Skanderbeg Square. (right)

The status of Tirana as the capital of the country is officially mandated by the constitution of Albania.[78] Tirana was proclaimed by the Congress of Lushnjë as the capital of Albania, eight years following independence in 1912. The first regulatory city plan was compiled in 1923 by Austro-Hungarian architects. The city center of Tirana was designed by Italian architects including Florestano Di Fausto, Gherardo Bosio and Armando Brasini. Tirana continued with its status as the political and cultural centre of the country, being home to all the national institutions that includes the government, the parliament, the ministries, the judicial bodies and other major political institutions.

Being the capital of Albania, Tirana is the seat of the government. Both the President and Prime Minister of Albania have their official residences and offices in the city. The president has their official residence in the Presidential Palace, while the office is the Presidential Office. The workplace of the prime minister is the Prime Minister's Office. Further, the ministries and departments of Agriculture, Rural Development, State for Diaspora, Education, Sports, Entrepreneurs, Tourism, Environment, Innovation, Public Administration, Social Welfare, Local Governance, Culture and Urban Development are based within the city territory.

The nation's highest courts are based in Tirana such as the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal and the Administrative Court. Tirana is also home to more than 45 embassies and representative bodies as an international political actor.[79]

Administration

The Mayor of Tirana along with the Cabinet of Tirana exercises executive power. The Assembly of Tirana functions as the city parliament and consists of 55 members, serving four-year terms. It primarily deals with budget, global orientations and relations between the city and the Government of Albania. It has 14 committees and its current Chairman is Aldrin Dalipi from the Socialist Party. Each of the members have a specific portfolio such as economy, finance, juridical, education, health care, and several professional services, agencies and institutes. The Municipality of Tirana is divided into 24 administrative units, with an own appointed mayor and council.[80]

In 2000, the centre of Tirana from the central campus of University of Tirana in the Mother Teresa Square up to the 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. This neighborhood is the most popular part under the youth of Tirana. It is located in the southern side of Tirana and borders Kombinat and the center of the city. 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.[81]

International relations

As Tirana, many of them are the most influential and largest or primate cities of their country and political, economical, cultural capital of their country.

Infrastructure

Education

The University of Tirana is the largest and highest ranking university in the country.
The building of the Faculty of Law of Tirana.

After the fall of communism in Albania, a reorganization plan was announced in 1990, that would extend the compulsory education program from eight to ten years. The following year, major economic and political crisis in Albania, and the ensuing breakdown of public order, plunged the school system into chaos. Widespread vandalism and extreme shortages of textbooks and supplies had a devastating effect on school operations, prompting Italy and other countries to provide material assistance. Many teachers relocated from rural to urban areas, leaving village schools understaffed and swelling the ranks of the unemployed in the cities; about 2,000 teachers fled the country.[citation needed] -The highly controlled environment that the communist regime had forced upon the educational system over the course of more than forty-six years was finally liberated set for improvement. In the late 1990, many schools were rebuilt or reconstructed, to improve learning conditions. Most of the improvements have happened in the larger cities of the country especially in Tirana.[citation needed]

In Tirana, there are 64 primary schools and 19 secondary schools.[93] The city is also host to many higher education institutions. This brings many young students from other cities and countries, especially from neighbouring countries, to Tirana. Many private Universities have been opened during the recent years. The French computer science university Epitech is also located in the city.

In recent years, foreign students mainly from Southern Italy are being enrolled at Italian-affiliated universities in Tirana in the hope of better preparing themselves for entrance exams in Italy's universities.

Universities in Tirana
Name Established City Type Students Academic staff
University of Tirana 1957 Tirana Public Classic School 35,000 900
University of Arts 1966 Tirana Public Art school 1200 64
University of Medicine 2013 Tirana Public Medical school 8460 417
Polytechnic University 1951 Tirana Public Technical school 10,000 280
Agricultural University 1951 Tirana Public Agricultural School 14,000 480
School of Magistrates 1997 Tirana Public Law school 27 15
European University 2006 Tirana Private Classical School 2952 167
Tirana International School 1991 Tirana Private Quality School 200 -
Marin Barleti University 2005 Tirana Private Classical School - -
Catholic University 2004 Tirana Private Theological School 1500 600
Epoka University 2004 Tirana Private Classical School 1400 85
Bedër University 2011 Tirana Private Gülen Theological School 1000 50

Media

Tirana is a major location for the Albanian entertainment industry, with many films, television series, books, newspapers and other media set there. It is the largest centre for film and television production 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, TV Klan, 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,[94] Elegance,[95] Who[96] and international magazines such as Grazia,[97] OK![98] and others have their headquarters in the city. In 2016, there were 1.82 million Internet users in the country in percentage 63% of the population of Albania.

Culture

The Cloud Pavilion[99] outside the National Art Gallery was installed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

Tirana is an important center for music, film, theatre, dance and visual art. The city is host to the largest cultural institutions of the country, such as the National Theatre and the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Natioan 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, that keeps more than a million books, periodicals, maps, atlases, microfilms and other library materials. The city has five well-preserved traditional houses (museum-houses), 56 cultural monuments, eight public libraries.[100] Since 2011, a Tourist Information Office was opened, located behind the National Historical Museum, with useful information about Tirana and Albania.

There are many foreign cultural institutions in the city, including the German Goethe-Institut,[101] Friedrich Ebert Foundation[102] and the British Council.[103] Other cultural centers in Tirana are, Canadian Institute of Technology, Chinese Confucius Institute, Greek Hellenic Foundation for Culture,[104] Italian Istituto Italiano di Cultura[105] and the French Alliance Française.[106] The Information Office of the Council of Europe was established in Tirana. The three main religions in Albania, which contains Islam, Orthodox and Catholic Christianity, have all 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.[107] It was the first international cinema festival in the country and considered as the most important cinematic event in the country.

Museums

The entrance of the Bunk'art Museum near the city centre.

The most prominent museum in Tirana is the National Historical Museum, which details the history of the country. It keeps some of the best archeological finds in Albania, dating from the prehistoric era to the modern times. In the entrance of the pavilions, there are photos of global personalities, who met Mother Teresa as Jacques Chirac, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Ibrahim Kodra and many other personalities. Undoubtedly, the personal objects used by her increase the curiosity of thousands of visitors in the museum. Almost 1 million visitors were counted in 2012.[108]

Another large museums includes the National Archaeological Museum, which is the national archaeological museum and the first museum created after World War II in Albania. The National Art Gallery opened to the public in 1954. However, the museum preserves over 5000 artworks. Other museums include the Natural Sciences Museum, which has branches in zoology, botany and geology, the former Enver Hoxha Museum and the Bunk'art Museum. In 2017, the Museum of Secret Surveillance (House of leaves) were renovated and re-opened. The historical building from the communist period, aims now portray from the omnipresence of the Albanian communist regime.

Festivals

Tirana Castle besides pedestrian Murat Toptani St is planned to host a traditional bazaar in 2019[109]

In recent years, Tirana is becoming a popular hub for events, such as festivals. Their diversity makes possible for people of different tastes to find themselves in a city this small. Festivals provide entertainment for the youth as well as for adults. The Summer Day Festival (Albanian: Dita e Veres) takes place every year on the 14th of March celebrating the arrival of Spring, and is the country's largest pagan festival. It is widely celebrated in Tirana, Elbasan, and other cities in Albania as well as in the Arbëresh colonies in Italy.

In addition, Tirana Municipality organizes several food tastings festivals in rural Tirana in order to promote local organic products and stimulate agri-tourism. Notable events include the Tomato Festival in Shengjergj, and Olives Festival in Ndroq.

Another major event, the Tirana International Film Festival takes place in Tirana each year bringing a large number of artists to produce a wide range of interesting film works. Other festivals include the Tirana Jazz Festival, Tirana Biennial, Guitar Sounds Festival, Albanian Wine Festival, and sports events like track and field championships, Rally Albania, and mountain biking events.

In 2016, the first Telekom Electronic Beats Festival were held in Tirana, bringing the latest trends from the urban lifestyle to the Albanian youth.[110] This is in effort to increase the number of tourist visits to Tirana. However, the city is become a popular destination for many young people around the region during the vacation period.[111]

Cuisine

Cafes along Blloku district in central Tirana

In 2016, Albania surpassed Spain by becoming the country with the most coffee houses per capita in the world.[112] In fact, there are 654 coffee houses per 100,000 inhabitants in Albania, a country with only 2.5 million inhabitants. This is due to coffee houses closing down in Spain due to the economic crisis, and the fact that as many cafes open as they close in Albania. In addition, the fact that it was one of the easiest ways to make a living after the fall of communism in Albania, together with the country's Ottoman legacy further reinforce its strong dominance in Albania.

Tirana region is known for the Fergesa traditional dish made with either peppers or liver,[113] and is found at a number of traditional restaurants in the city and agri-tourism sites recently opened on the outskirts of Tirana.

Sports

National Arena Stadium under construction

Being the capital, Tirana is the center of sport in Albania, where activity is organized across amateur and professional levels. It is home to many major sporting facilities. Starting from 2007, the 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.[114]

Tirana hosted in the past three major events, the FIBA EuroBasket 2006, 2011 World Mountain Running Championships and the 2013 European Weightlifting Championships.

There are two major stadiums, the former Qemal Stafa Stadium and the Selman Stërmasi stadium. The former was demolished in 2016 to make way for the new national stadium.[115] The new stadium called the National Arena (Arena Kombëtare) 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.

Football is the most widely followed sport in Tirana as well as in the country, having numerous club teams including the KF Tirana, Partizani Tirana, and Dinamo Tirana. It is popular at every level of society, from children to wealthy professionals. 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. Another popular sport in Albania is basketball, represented in particular by the teams KB Tirana, BC Partizani, BC Dinamo, Ardhmëria and also the women's PBC Tirana.

Recently two rugby teams were created: Tirana Rugby Club,[116] founded in 2013 and Ilirët Rugby Club[117] founded in 2016.

Sports clubs

Club Established Sport League Venue Capacity
Dinamo Tirana 1950 Football First Division Arena Kombëtare 22,500
Partizani Tirana 1946 Football Superliga Arena Kombëtare 22,500
KF Tirana 1920 Football Superliga Selman Stërmasi Stadium 9,500
BC Partizani 1946 Basketball A1 League Asllan Rusi Palace 3,000
PBC Tirana Women 1946 Basketball A1 League Asllan Rusi Palace 3,000

Notable people

Gallery

See also

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 been recognized as an independent state by 113 out of 193 United Nations member states, 10 of which have subsequently withdrawn recognition.

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Further reading

External links