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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
Great-Mosque-of-Tirana-2018.jpg
Castillo de Petrela, Petrela, Albania, 2014-04-17, DD 07.JPG
Clock Tower Tirana 2017.jpg
Tirana from South.jpg
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
MunicipalityTirana
Settled1614
Government
 • MayorErion Veliaj[1] (Socialist Party)
 • ChairmanToni Gogu[2]
Area
 • Municipality1,110.03 km2 (428.58 sq mi)
 • Unit41.8 km2 (16.1 sq mi)
Elevation
110 m (360 ft)
Population
 (2011)[4][5]
 • Density502/km2 (1,300/sq mi)
 • Municipality
557,422
 • Unit
418,495
Demonym(s)Tiranase (f) Tiranas (m)
Tironse (f) Tirons (m)
(Local dialect)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
1001–1028, 1031
Area code(s)+355 (0) 4
Vehicle registrationTR
Websitetirana.al

Tirana or Tiranë (UK: /tɪˈrɑːnə/ (About this soundlisten) tih-RAH-nə,[6] US: /təˈrɑːnə/ tə-RAH-nə,[7] Albanian pronunciation: [tiˈɾana] or [tiˈɾanə]; Gheg Albanian: Tirona) is the capital and largest city by area and population of the Republic of Albania. It is located in the center of Albania enclosed by mountains and hills with Mount Dajt elevating on the east and a slight valley on the northwest overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. Due to its location at 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.[8][9]

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 area was inhabited by Illyrians, and was most likely the core of the Illyrian Kingdom of the Taulantii, which in Classical Antiquity was centered in the hinterland of Epidamnus. Following the Illyrian Wars it was annexed by Rome and became an integral part of the Roman Empire. The heritage of that period is still evident and represented by the Mosaics of Tirana. Later, in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Early Christian 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.

Classified as a gamma-world-city, 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.[10] 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. The city was announced as the European Youth Capital for 2022.

History

Early development

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.[11][12][13] The region that today corresponds to the city's territory has been continuously inhabited since the Iron Age. The area was inhabited by Illyrians, and was most likely the core of the Illyrian kingdom of the Taulantii, which in Classical antiquity was centered in the hinterland of Epidamnus.[14] 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.[15]

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...".[16] 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".[16] It is later mentioned in 1572 as Borgo di Tirana.[17]

According to Hahn, the settlement had already started to develop as a bazaar and included several watermills,[18] 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.[18] 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.[19] They started to be known as the llacifac and were the first Christians to arrive after the creation of the town. 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. In 1889, the Albanian language started to be taught in Tirana's schools,[citation needed] and the patriotic club Bashkimi was founded in 1908.

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

Modern development

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.[20] Following the capture of the town of Debar by Serbia, many of its Albanian inhabitants fled to Turkey, the rest went to Tirana.[21] Of those that ended up in Istanbul, some of their number migrated to Albania, mainly to Tirana where the Dibran community formed an important segment of the city's population from 1920 onward and for some years thereafter.[21] On 8 February 1920, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the temporary capital of Albania, which had gained independence in 1912.[22] The city acquired that status permanently on 31 December 1925. In 1923, the first regulatory city plan was compiled by Austrian architects.[23] 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.

Old villa architecture in Tirana

Tirana was the venue for the signing of the Pact of Tirana between Fascist Italy and Albania. During the rule of King Zog a lot of Muhaxhirs emigrated towards Tirana, which lead to a growing population in the capital city in the early 20th century.[24]

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.[25] 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.

The Skanderbeg Square in 1988 two years prior to the Fall of communism in Albania.

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[26] 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.

Tirana's main boulevard in 1991.

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. 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!".[27] 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.

Contemporary

The Mustafa Matohiti Street near the Pyramid of Tirana. Consequently after the fall of communism in Albania, a dramatic growth of new developments has taken place, with many new exclusive flats and apartments and other structures.

During his term from 2000 to 2011, the former mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama, undertook a campaign to demolish illegal constructed buildings across Tirana as well as along the river banks of Lanë 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, including the Unaza, Rruga e Kavajës and the main boulevard. Rama also led the initiative to paint the façades of Tirana's buildings in bright colours, 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.[28][29]

In June 2007, George W. Bush traveled to Tirana on an official state visit becoming the first U.S. President to visit the former communist country.[30][31] In 2008, the Gërdec explosions were felt in the capital as windows were shattered and citizens shaken. In January 2011, the Albanian opposition demonstrations were triggered in front of the governmental buildings in Tirana protesting against political corruption and state capture, particularly associated with the former prime minister Sali Berisha's government.[32] In September 2014, Pope Francis made an official state visit to Tirana simultaneously becoming the second pontiff to visit Albania, after Pope John Paul II in 1992.[33][34]

Following the municipal elections of 2015, power was transferred from the Democratic Party representative Lulzim Basha to the Socialist Party candidate Erion Veliaj.[35] Albania then underwent a territorial reform, in which defunct communes were merged with municipalities.[36] Thirteen of Tirana's former communes were integrated as administrative units joining the existing eleven.[37] Since then, Tirana is undergoing significant changes in infrastructure, 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.[38] Construction permits were suspended until the capital's development plan is revised and synthesized.[37]

Between December 2018 and February 2019, a series of demonstrations erupted in the central areas of Tirana and other cities of the country in response to a controversial law on higher education, poor quality of teaching, high tuition rates and corruption.[39][40][41] In September 2019, Tirana was ravaged by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter located near Durrës.[42][43][44] Two months after, in November 2019, another strong earthquake with the magnitude of 6.4 hit the region again resulting comparatively few damages in Tirana.[45] The same month, Tirana was announced as the European Youth Capital for 2022 with a planned program including events of cultural and social importance.[46]

Geography

A Satellite imagery illustrating the Tirana Metropolitan Area.

Tirana extends at the Plain of Tirana in the center of Albania between the mount of Dajti in the east, the hills of Kërrabe, Sauk and Vaqarr in the south, and a valley to the north 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) at Maja Mincekut of Mali me Gropa in Shenmeri.[47]

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 North 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.[48] 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.[49]

Climate

Snow at the Dajti National Park. It generally melts quickly in the region.[50]

Tirana is defined by the Köppen climate classification as Cfa, nevertheless it enjoys a Humid subtropical climate 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 summers and cool and wet winters. The city lies on the boundary between Zone 7 and Zone 9 in terms of the hardiness zone.[51]

The average precipitation in Tirana 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.[9]

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 May to September. During autumn and winter, from November to March, the average temperature drops and is not lower than 6.7 °C (44.1 °F). The city receives approximately 2500 hours of sun.[52]

Climate data for Tirana (Tirana 7), elevation: 90 m or 300 ft, 1961-1990 normals, extremes 1940-present[a]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 21.3
(70.3)
28.0
(82.4)
30.3
(86.5)
32.6
(90.7)
35.9
(96.6)
39.7
(103.5)
42.2
(108.0)
41.4
(106.5)
39.7
(103.5)
36.1
(97.0)
31.3
(88.3)
22.5
(72.5)
42.2
(108.0)
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
(46.0)
10.0
(50.0)
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
(63.0)
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) −10.4
(13.3)
−9.4
(15.1)
−7.0
(19.4)
−1.0
(30.2)
2.5
(36.5)
5.6
(42.1)
4.2
(39.6)
10.0
(50.0)
3.8
(38.8)
−1.3
(29.7)
−4.3
(24.3)
−6.9
(19.6)
−10.4
(13.3)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 143
(5.6)
132
(5.2)
115
(4.5)
104
(4.1)
103
(4.1)
68
(2.7)
42
(1.7)
46
(1.8)
78
(3.1)
114
(4.5)
172
(6.8)
148
(5.8)
1,266
(49.8)
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
Average ultraviolet index 2 2 4 6 8 9 9 8 6 4 2 1 5
Source: DWD,[53][54][b] Meteo Climat (record highs and lows),[55] NOAA (some records, rain and snow days)[56] and Weather Atlas[57]
  1. ^ For rainy and snowy days the monthly values are not available, only annual.
  2. ^ ftp://ftp-cdc.dwd.de/pub/CDC/help/stations_list_CLIMAT_data.txt Station ID for Tirana is 13615] Use this station ID to locate the sunshine duration

Urbanism

The artificial lake of Tirana 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,[58] 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,[59] while it is widely believed that the fuel used in Albania contains larger amounts of sulfur and lead than in the European Union. Effective 1 January 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[60][61] resulting from rapid growth in the construction of new buildings and expanding road infrastructure.[62]

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.[63] The government has included designated green areas around Tirana as part of the Tirana Greenbelt where construction is not permitted or limited.[64][65]

Governance and politics

Administration

The municipality of Tirana is encompassed in the County of Tirana within the Central Region of Albania and consists of the rural administrative units of Baldushk, Bërzhitë, Dajt, Farkë, Kashar, Krrabë, Ndroq, Petrelë, Pezë, Shëngjergj, Vaqarr, Zall-Bastar, Zall-Herr and Tirana.[66][67] The administrative unit of Tirana is further partitioned into eleven urban administrative units, namely Tirana 1, Tirana 2, Tirana 3, Tirana 4, Tirana 5, Tirana 6, Tirana 7, Tirana 8, Tirana 9, Tirana 10 and Tirana 11.[66]

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 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.

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. In 2010, the municipality undertook the installing of street name signs and entrance numbers while every apartment entrance was physically stamped.[68]

National capital

Tirana is the capital city of the Republic of Albania thus playing an essential role in shaping the political and economic life of the country.[69] It is the home to government functions and institutions for which the government of Albania is responsible, as for instance the executive, juridical and legislative branches of Albania.

The President and Prime Minister of Albania officially reside and work in Tirana specifically at the Presidenca and Kryeministria, respectively, nevertheless the Parliament of Albania is headquartered at the Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard.[70][71][72] Tirana is also the home to the national Constitutional Court and Supreme Court. Important national institutions housed in Tirana include the Appeal Court and Administrative Court.

The Bank of Albania is located at the Skanderbeg Square while other institutions such as the ministries of Culture, Defence, Education, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Health, Infrastructure, Internal Affairs, Justice and Tourism are spread over Tirana. The city is also the home to all the consulates and embassies in Albania, thereby making it an important center for international diplomacy in the country.

International relations

As Tirana, many of the listed cities are the most influential and largest or primate cities of their country as well as the political, economical and cultural capital of their respective country.[73]

Economy

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.[75] 26% of the working population makes up the secondary sector followed by the primary sector with only 5%.[75]

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.[76] 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.[77] 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.

Maritim Plaza Tirana is placed in the center of Tirana.

The telecommunication industry represents another major and growing contributor to the sector.[78] 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.[79] Tirana has been officially dubbed as 'The Place Beyond Belief' by local authorities.[80] 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.[81][82]

The largest hotels of the city are the Tirana International Hotel, Maritim Plaza Tirana both situated in the heart of the city near Scanderbeg Square, and the Hyatt-owned luxury Mak Hotel Tirana[83] located next to the Air Albania Stadium, where Mariott Tirana Hotel is also planned to open.[84] Other major hotels present in central Tirana include the Rogner Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Tirana, Xheko Imperial Hotel, Best Western Premier Ark Hotel, and Mondial Hotel.

Infrastructure

Transport

Tirana is served by Nënë Tereza International Airport, which is simultaneously the premier air gateway to the country. The airport was officially named in honour of the Albanian Roman Catholic nun and missionary, Mother Teresa. It connects Tirana with many destinations in different countries across Europe, Africa and Asia. The airport carried more than 3.3 million passengers in 2019 and is also the principal hub for the country's flag carrier, Air Albania.[85]

The city's geographical location in the center of Albania has long established the city as an integral terminus for the national road transportation, thus connecting the city to all parts of Albania and the neighbouring countries.[86] The Rruga Shtetërore 1 (SH1) connects Tirana with Shkodër and Montenegro in the north, and constitutes an essential section of the proposed Adriatic–Ionian motorway. The Rruga Shtetërore 2 (SH2) continues in the west and provides direct connection to Durrës on the Adriatic Sea. The Rruga Shtetërore 3 (SH3) is being transformed to the Autostrada 3 (A3) and follows the ancient Via Egnatia. It significantly constitutes a major section of the Pan-European Corridor VIII and links the city with Elbasan, Korçë and Greece in the south. Tirana is further connected, through the Milot interchange in the northwest, with Kosovo following as part of the Autostrada 1 (A1).

An Ecovolis station near the Mother Teresa Square.

During the communist regime in Albania, a plan for the construction of a ring road around Tirana arose in 1989s with no implementation until the 2010s.[87] It is of major importance, especially concerning the demographic growth of the metropolitan region of Tirana as well as the importance of the economy. Although, constructions for the nowadays completed southern section of the ring road started in 2011, however, the northern and eastern sections are still in the planning process.[88]

The Rruga Shtetërore 2 (SH2) connecting Tirana with Durrës.

Rail lines of Hekurudha Shqiptare (HSH) connected Tirana with all of the major cities of Albania, including Durrës, Shkodër and Vlorë. In 2013, the Tirana Railway Station was closed and moved to Kashar by the government of Tirana in order to create space for the Bulevardi i Ri project.[89] The new Tirana Station will be constructed in Laprakë, which is projected to be a multifunctional terminal for rail, tram and bus transportation.[90][91] Furthermore, a new rail line from Tirana through Nënë Tereza International Airport to Durrës is planned to be constructed.[92][93]

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. Under the plan, the two tram lines will intersect in the Skanderbeg Square. The public transport system in Tirana is ten bus lines served by 250 to 260 buses every day.

During the administration of mayor Erion Veliaj, the government of Tirana has significantly increased the creation and expansion of a cycling infrastructure in the city in order to reduce traffic congestion as well as to improve the sustainable transportation.[94][95][96] Ecovolis was launched in 2011 offering rental services for bicycles at different centrally located stations for a small fee.[97][98] The international bicycle sharing system, Mobike, launched its operations on 8 June 2018 by deploying 4000 bicycles in the city.[99][100]

Education

Tirana has the highest concentration of institutions of tertiary education in Albania, consisting of numerous academies, colleges and universities. Most prominent among these is the University of Tirana with campuses around the city and more than 28,000 students from all backgrounds.[101] The Polytechnic University of Tirana is another distinguished institution and also the most renowned engineering and technical university in the country. The four other public institutions in Tirana are the University of Arts, University of Agriculture, University of Medicine and University of Sports.[101]

The educational system of Tirana has expanded substantially over the past years with the renovations of existing school facilities and the construction of new schools.[102][103] For primary and secondary education, a variety of schools are available, tagged with the public, private and international labels. Few of the major international schools are the Tirana International School, Albanian International School, British School, Montessori School, Memorial Schooland and World Academy. Also of noteworthy mention is the public primary and secondary Servete Maçi School, which received international recognition as it won an award at the 2020 International Architecture Awards.[104]

Health

There are numerous public and private hospitals as well as smaller public and private health care facilities in the territory of Tirana. The Mother Teresa University Hospital is one of the largest medical tertirary institutions of the country. Other medical institutions include the Shefqet Ndroqi University Hospital, Koço Gliozheni Hospital, Mbretëresha Gjeraldinë Hospital and the Military Hospital.

Demography

Population growth of Tirana in selected periods
Year 1703 1820 1923 1937 1955 1989 2001 2012
Pop.4,00012,00010,84535,000108,200324,532430,407557,422
±% p.a.—    +0.94%−0.10%+8.73%+6.47%+3.28%+2.38%+2.38%
Source: [105][106][107][108][109]

The Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) estimated the population of the municipality of Tirana at 418,495 in 2011.[110] With a population density of 502 people per square kilometre, Tirana is the most densely populated municipality in the country.[4] The encompassing metropolitan area, consisting of the regions of Durrës and Tirana, has a combined population of approximately 1 million amounting to nearly one third of the country's total population.[111]

Historically, Tirana has experienced a steady population increase in the past years, especially after the fall of ommunism in the late twentieth century as well as the beginnings of the twenty-first 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 while during the period from 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.[112]

Religion in Tirana [113]
Islam
55.7%
Orthodoxy
6.4%
Catholicism
5.4%
Bektashism
3.4%
Other (mostly undeclared and non-religious)
29.1%

Tirana's population is composed by a mixture of different cultural and ethnic groups from Southern Europe. The most represented ethnicities are Albanians (84.10%), Greeks (0.35%), Aromanians (0.11%), Macedonians (0.07%) and Italians (0.03%).[114]

In Albania, a secular state with no state religion, the freedom of belief, conscience and religion is explicitly guaranteed in the constitution of Albania.[115][116] Tirana is religiously diverse and has many places of worship catering to its religious population whom are adherents of Islam, Christianity and Judaism but also of Atheism and Agnosticism. They all maintain their Albanian headquarters spread across the territory of Tirana. Nevertheless, the Bektashi Order leadership established their world center also in the city.

In the 2011 census, 55.7% of the population of the municipality of Tirana 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.[117] 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 seat of the prelacy. The Albanian Orthodox community is served by the Archbishop of Tirana in the Resurrection Cathedral.

Culture

Panorama of The Albanians History mosaic above the entrance of the National Museum of History.

Tirana offers a blend of traditional and modern lifestyle with a variety of arts, food, entertainment, music and night life, available in a form and abundance comparable to that in other capitals around Europe. Its population celebrates a wide range of religious and other festivals including Christmas, Eid, Hanukkah and Nowruz. Another festival is Dita e Verës taking place every year on 14 March, during which the Albanians celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

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.[118]

There are many domestic and foreign cultural institutions in Tirana, amongst them the British Council, Canadian Institute of Technology as well as the German Goethe-Institut and Friedrich Ebert Foundation.[119][120][121][122] Other cultural institutions include the Chinese Confucius Institute, Greek Hellenic Foundation for Culture, Italian Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the French Alliance Française.[123][124][125][126]

Architecture

Toptanasve house (XVII century).

Tirana is home to a mixture of architectural styles reflecting the influential periods in its history. Its current appearance was considerably shaped by two totalitarian regimes, once by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini during the Second World War and the regime of Enver Hoxha in the aftermath. The Palace of Brigades, 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.

Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini designed the city plan for Tirana in Neo-Renaissance style with articulate angular solutions and giant order fascias.

In the 20th century, 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's army brigade.[127]

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.

Tirana is a densely-built area and still offers several public parks throughout its districts, graced with green gardens. The Grand Park is the most important green space in Tirana. It is one of most visited areas by local citizens.[128] 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 Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, the Municipality of Tirana will build more green spaces and will plant more trees.[129]

Museums

As one of the cultural centers of the country, Tirana is the home to a number of museums dedicated to a wide array of arts. The National Museum of History is located at the Skanderbeg Square and is the most representative of museums in the city.[130] The mosaic above the entrance is one of the most dominant features of the museum as it tells the story of how the Albanian people have fought against invasion and occupation throughout history.

Founded in 1948, the National Museum of Archaeology at the Mother Teresa Square displays a wide collection of research and discoveries belonging to the archaeological locations around the country.[131] It exhibits span from prehistory through antiquity and the middle ages to the twentieth century, offering an overview of the country's historical diversity.

The Cloud Pavilion outside the National Art Gallery installed by Japanese Sou Fujimoto.[132]

The National Art Gallery is considered the most important gallery in Albania housing one of the greatest collections of paintings in the region.[133] Located at the Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard, it holds approximately 4.500 works of art including the most important collection of Albanian art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Bunk'art Museum consists of two underground bunkers in Tirana built under the orders and direction of Enver Hoxha during the communist regime in the country. Located at the Fadil Deliu Street and Abdi Toptani Street respectively, the bunkers have been transformed into a history museum and contemporary art gallery with exhibits from the Second World War and Cold War.[134][135]

The Museum of Secret Surveillance was founded in 2017 and is housed within a twentieth century mansion, the building known as the House of Leaves, near the Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard.[136] It commemorates and honours the victims who fell to the communist terrorism and violence during the communist period in Albania. 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.

Cuisine

Along with Albanian cuisine, a variety of international cuisines are popular among the residents in Tirana. In 2016, Albania surpassed Spain by becoming the country with the most coffee houses per capita in the world with 654 coffee houses per 100,000 inhabitants.[137] 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.[citation needed]

Tirana's restaurant scene has evolved recently characterized by stylish interiors and delicious food grown locally. The Tirana region is known for the Fergesa traditional dish made with either peppers or liver,[138] and is found at a number of traditional restaurants in the city and agri-tourism sites on the outskirts of Tirana.

Sports

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.[139]

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

Air Albania Stadium in the city center under construction.

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.[140] The new stadium called the Air Albania Stadium was constructed on the same site of the former Qemal Stafa Stadium and it is planned to open in late 2019. It will have an underground parking, Marriott Tirana 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,[141] founded in 2013 and Ilirët Rugby Club[142] founded in 2016.

Media

The former grounds of the headquarters of Radio Tirana. Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) was initially founded as Radio Tirana in 1938.

As the capital, Tirana is the most significant location for the Albanian media industry whose content is distributed throughout Albania, Kosovo and other Albanian-speaking territories. Tirana is the home to most of the national and international television stations, including the national broadcaster, Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH), along with all its television and radio networks. The three largest Albanian commercial broadcasters, such as Televizioni Klan, Top Channel and Vizion Plus, also maintains their headquarters in the city. The European broadcaster, Euronews, operates a franchise in the city as well as the American broadcaster CNN.[143][144]

Tirana is also a principal location for the largest Albanian newspapers, magazines and publications. The newspapers with the largest circulations in Albania are published in Tirana, including Gazeta Shqip, Gazeta Tema, Koha Jonë and Panorama. Gazeta Shqiptare, one of the oldest Albanian-language newspapers in Albania, operates and has its headquarters in the city.[145] Tirana also has a well-established English-language newspaper, notably the daily of Tirana Times.

Notable people

Key of Tirana

The Key of Tirana (Albanian: Çelësi i Qytetit) is a symbolic recognition given by the Mayor of Tirana to an esteemed personality. It was given by:

See also

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Further reading

External links