General

Day 1 Airport – Durres – Tirana

Meet and greet with our guide and depart for Durrës, one of the oldest cities (founded in 627 B.C.). We take a sightseeing tour of the Amphitheatre situated in the middle of the modern city in an inhabited area and the Archaeological Museum rich in artifacts found in the city and its suburbs. Transfer to Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.

Day 2 Tirana – Dajti Mountain

Spend the day on a guided tour of Tirana visiting its main sites, including; Et’hem Bey Mosque, the National Historical Museum, with its impressive mural on the façade, the National Gallery of Arts. In the afternoon we suggest to take the cable car to the Dajti Mountain (1632m). Overnight in Tirana. (B)

Day 3 Tirana – Ardenice – Berat – Tirana

Transfer to Albania’s treasured UNESCO heritage town of Berat, stopping at the Ardenica Monastery, site of Skanderbeg’s marriage to Andronika Arianiti in 1451. Transfert to the beautifully preserved Ottoman settlement of Berat. The upper town includes the Medieval citadel and many small churches and mosques are packed tightly inside its walls. Visit the Icon Museum, which features works by the famous Albanian painter Onufri, before venturing to the lower town for a look back across to the hillside of the Mangalemi quarter, where the many windowed, white-washed houses earn the town its nickname of ‘town of a thousand windows’. Transfer to Tirana. Overnight in Tirana. (B)

Day 4 Tirana – Kruja – Airport

After breakfast, drive to Kruja – the centre of Albanian resistance against the Turks under our National Hero Scanderbeg. He kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, thus earning the title “Champion of Christ” given by the Pope of the time. Visit the Castle, Skanderbeg Museum, National Ethnographic Museum. Spend some time shopping for souvenirs in the Old Bazaar before transferring back to Tirana Airport. (B)

 

Price includes:

• 3 nights accommodation in good standard hotels with Breakfast
• Meals as specified (B = breakfast, L= lunch, D= Dinner)
• Entrance fees and sightseeing with English speaking guides

 

Price does not include:

• Flight Tickets
• All meals apart lunch
• Gratuities/Tip to Driver/Guide

 

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Available departures

This tour is available upon request. It can be booked up to 24 hours before departure.

Berat

Berat

This 2,413 years-old city of Berat, the pride of Albanian architecture which is under the protection of UNESCO, is located 120 km from Tirana. The city forms a wonderful combination of eastern and western cultures, costumes, traditions and outlook. Berat is a treasure-trove of Albanian history, culture and a testament to the country’s tradition of religious harmony.

The city’s life began in the VI – V century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the III century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. The castle expanded east wards, particularly during the feudal dominion of the feudalMuzakaj family. Inside the castle, they built churches with precious frescos and icons and also a calligraphy school of calligraphy. Today, the castle is made unique by the fact that people continue to live inside of it.The three major neighborhoods of the old city are Mangalemi, Gorica, and Kala, where the castle itself is located. In Mangalemi, below the castle, you can see the famous view of the facades of the houses, with windows that seem to stand above each other. In general, a traditional house has two floors, where the second is prominent and has many cambered windows and wood carvings. With its houses built along the steep hill, the view of Mangalemi is the reason that another name for Berati is “City of the Floating Windows.”

Across the Osumi River lies the Gorica neighborhood, whose houses face those of Mangalemi. The arched bridge of Gorica, built in 1780, is a beautiful architectural monument constructed to link Gorica with Mangelemi.

The ensemble of the Byzantine churches in the castle of Berati is extraordinary. At the foot of the castle, there is the Byzantine Church of Shën Mëhilli( Saint Michael) , while the 13th century Church of Shën Maria e Vllahernës ( Saint Mary of  Blachernaebuil in XIII century), the Church of Shën Triadha (The Holy Trinity)  and the post-Byzantine monumental Cathedral of Shën Maria (Saint Mary) are located within the castle.

The Cathedral of Shën Mëria houses a museum of works by the famous iconographers of the 16th century: Onufri and his son Nikolla. There are over 100 icons on display and they also include works of other artists such as Joan Çetiri, Onufër Qiprioti and many anonymous painters.

You also can visit the Monastery of Shën Spiridhoni in Gorica. In 1417, the Ottomans occupied Berati and this conquest left its mark with the building of monuments to the Islamic faith such as the Xhamia e Kuqe( The Red Mosque) inside the castle, the Xhamia e Plumbit (1555), ( The Lead Mosque) ,Xhamia Mbret ( built in 1481 ) ( The King Mosque), and the Xhamia e Beqarëve (1872). Other sites worth visiting are the Ethnographic Museum, situated inside an 18th century çardak building, and the Gallery of Arts “Edward Lear,” a well known English painter who painted so much of Berati and Albania. In addition, Berati is known for its culinary and traditional dishes. It is worth tasting specialties such as ” Pula me përshesh” and “Çorba e Tomorrit” in the local restaurants.

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Tirana

Tirana

Home to almost 1 million inhabitants and of the most important governmental buildings, Tirana is the largest city in the country. It has the mountain, the artificial lake, recreational parks and the Adriatic sea within a few miles of driving.

Tirana became the capital of Albania at 1920, a turning point from where the city grew rapidly. Early mentions of it go back as far as 1614, when a local ruler built the Old Mosque, a small commercial center and a hammam. Nevertheless, the area was inhabited since the Paleolithic era, dating back to 1000 – 3000 years ago and later the Illyrian settlement was called Tërana.

Albania is well known for it’s religious tolerance. Et’hem Bey Mosque in the center of the city was build around 1789, being reconstructed several times since then. Starting from 1925 it is home of the World Headquarters of the Bektashi Order. The Catholic Cathedral “Saint Mary” was built in 1865 with the expenses of the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph, whereas the Resurrection of Christ the Orthodox Cathedral of Tirana, opened in 2012 and it’s the 3rd largest orthodox church in Europe.

Tirana is notorious for its architecture, mixing both classical and modern styles. The governmental buildings, such as the ministerial complex, the National Bank and the Municipality building located at the city center were constructed by Italian architects during King Zog’s ruling. The main boulevards “Dëshmorët e Kombit” and “Nënë Tereza” was also constructed during that time.

One of the idiosyncrasies of the city can be considered the Pyramid. It was build around 1988 to be a museum or mausoleum for the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. After the ‘90s used to be a club named “Mumja” and was rumored for demolition a couple of years ago. Nevertheless,  now it is named the International Center of Culture, thus being used as an alternative art exhibition area and concert hall.

In the center of Tirana is the monument of the national hero, Skanderbeg, created from the artists Odhise Paskali, Andrea Mano and Janaq Paço. A few minutes in distance, is the Monument of the Independence, created in 2012 to commemorate 100 years of independence.

 

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Durres

Durres

Located about 33 Km away from the capital and at the coast of the Adriatic Sea, it is the second largest city in Albania. It has been home of emperors and gladiators in antiquity; of other important figures throughout the history; visited by apostles and host of main  cultural events of nowadays Albania, it is obvious that Durres posses a great value for the country.

History-wise, it is one of the oldest cities of Albania, founded by Epidamnos in 627 BC. It can be compared with similar large European cities of the antiquity and middle ages. During the ruling of Skanderbeg, Durres was considered as “the 2nd Constantinople”, due to the fact that became a major trading centre and port on the eastern coast of the Adriatic

It used to be the capital from 7 March 1914 until 1920, under the ruling of the Austrian prince, William of Albania.In 1939, it was the first city to be concquered by the Italian Fascists

After World War II, Durres was transformed into an industrial city, and it became an important cultural and educational centre.Durrës was the scene of many demonstrations during the democratic movement of 1990–1991.  Durres has many parks and gardens, and an outdoor theater has been built on the hills above the city. Its main recreational areas are Durrës Beach and Currila Beach, where citizens and tourists enjoy the sea and yellow sand of the Adriatic.

Durres is as much a cultural hub as it is a tourist destination. While the city presents ample opportunity for enjoying the dazzling combination of sun and sand, its archaeological treasures offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history. The city nowadays is located exactly on the ancient ruins. To not miss are The Roman Amphitheater,  The Roman Baths, The Archaeological Museum, The Mosaic of Orpheus, The Venetian Tower, Fatih Mosque, King Zog I Residence etc.

Durres has a strategical and economical importance to the country, being the largest port of Albania and, especially for the proximity with Italian city ports, such as Bari. It also is an important contributor in tourism, welcoming every year visitors not only from Albania and Kosovo, but from all over the world.

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Kruja

Kruja

One of the most historical cities of Albania, Kruja is located in central-north of Albania. It is seldom considered as the city of the national hero, Skanderbeg. History says that Gjergj Kastrioti, Skanderbeg protected the castle 3 times against the ottoman’s siege until his death in 1468.

Early mentions of the city go back to the Illyrian tribe of Albanis and their settlement of Albanopolis. Regarding the etymology of the name, “Krujë” comes from the word “kroje”, which means “springs” in albanian. During the ottoman era, it was known as Akhisar (from turkish: ak- white, hisar – castle,  ).

The Castle of Kruja has 9 towers and it includes the Skanderbeg Museum, the National Ethnographic Museum and in the highest point, the Clock Tower. The latter used to signal other cities and castles during war times. The view from up there is amazing and it reaches up to the Adriatic sea. It was build in the 5th-6th Century and it was the last to fall into the hands of the Ottomans, 10 years after the death of Gjergj Kastrioti.

The Museum of Skanderbeg pays tribute to the national hero, as the name suggests. Well curated, it has on display old artifacts dating as back as 15th Century and exposes an important part of the albanian history.

Inside the Castle grounds, it’s the National Ethnographic Museum. It is an old house with çardak, which belonged to the Topia Dynasty, wealthy merchants of the time. It is a large, 2 story house with 15 rooms, including the guest room, the living room, the children’s room, the Turkish bath, the kitchen and its appliances etc.

The old bazaar is one the most notable highlights of the city. Built since the 15th Century, it’s one of the largest handicraft markets in Albania. It is well preserved and has the characteristics of the traditional albanian markets of the 18-19th Century.

In antiquity, Kruje was a site used for paganism. After the spread of Christianism, the church of the Saint Alexandre was built at the foot of mountain Krujë.  Nearby there is Dollma Teqe (Tekke), a Bektashi temple. Dollma Teqe was build in 1789 and can be reached by foot outside the castle walls. On top of the mountain and over the town, there’s a religious spot called Sari-Salltik.

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