Tirana Free Walking Tour + Monument & Sights Guide
Tirana is surrounded by hills, with the Dajti Mountain rising up to the east. The Tiranë river runs through the city, аs does the Lanë stream and are a useful means of orientating yourself. They, together with the Dëshmorët e Kombit street, roughly bisect the central part of Tirana into four sections. Skanderbeg Square lies at the northern end of Dëshmorët e Kombit and Mother Teresa square at the south. The major monuments are dotted in and around this road. The main business and entertainment area is “The Block” (Blloku), the southern area of the city where the former communist leaders lived under strict protection.
Whilst the city centre is small enough to be explored on foot, be aware that the pavements are a shambles. There is no continuity in width, condition and construction material and there are frequently large holes. So, watch your step!
Tirana Free Walking Tour
Monument & Sights Guide
Sheshi Nënë Tereza
(Mother Teresa Square)
What is it? Second largest square in Tirana & site of the University of Tirana
Where is it? On the southern side of the Lanë stream at the end of the Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit
Information: Named in honour of Albania’s most famous daughter, Mother Teresa square is one of the most popular landmarks of Tirana and is the home of the city’s university. On the square, there is a small monument to Mother Teresa, and some of the city’s most important buildings are located here. To the east, the Archaeological Museum in front of which can be found some unique monuments to totalitarianism. Including a piece of the Berlin Wall and one of the many bunkers that can be found throughout the country. Qemal Stafa Stadium lies behind the square to the west and south of the square, Tirana’s Grand Park (Parku i Madh) the site of the artificial Lake of Tirana, a popular weekend destination for many Tiranians.
Monument Type: Former Museum
Address: Rruga Papa Gjon Pali II
Opening Times: -
Information: Formerly known as “Enver Hoxha Museum.” The unique pyramid-shaped structure was designed by the daughter of the late communist dictator Enver Hoxha and served as a museum to his legacy until 1991. More recently it was commandeered by NATO & humanitarian agencies during the Kosovo war and today is used as a car park and antenna. Despite slowly falling apart and almost beyond decay, if you’re a fan of blocky communist architecture, you’ll love it.
Ura e Tabakëve
What is it? 18th century Ottoman stone footbridge
Where is it? On the southern end of Rruga George W. Bush
Information: The Tanners’ Bridge formed part of the larger Shëngjergj Road that linked Tirana with the eastern highlands and was so called due to its adjacency to the area of butcher’s and leather workers. After the river was rerouted in the 1930s, the bridge fell into disrepair and has only recently been restored to working order.
Kuvendi i Shqipërisë
(Parliament of Albania)
Monument Type: Parliament
Address: Rruga George W. Bush
Opening Times: -
Information: The super secretive Parliament of Albania is surrounded by guards who don’t like you getting to close. What can you see is the pathway leading up to entrance, its façade and lots and lots of flags.
Katedralja e Ringjalljes së Krishtit
(Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral)
Monument Type: Orthodox Cathedral
Address: Rruga Ibrahim Rugova
Opening Times: 12 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Information: The newly built Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral was opened in 2012 and is the third largest Orthodox church in Europe. The building consists of a large dome building and an adjacent bell tower. The complex also includes a chapel, an administrative building of the Holy Synod and a cultural centre.
Xhamia e Et’hem Beut
(Et’hem Bey Mosque)
Monument Type: Mosque
Address: Sheshi Skënderbej
Opening Times: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Information: Spared destruction during the turbulent atheism campaign of the late 1960s because of its cultural significance, the Et’hem Bey Mosque is one Tirana’s oldest and prettiest buildings. Particularly delightful are the frescoes depict trees, waterfalls and bridges, even more so being that still life paintings are a rarity in Islamic art.
Kulla e Sahatit
(Clock Tower of Tirana)
Monument Type: Clock tower and viewing point
Address: Rruga 28 Nëntori
Opening Times: Mon: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Thu: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. & 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Price: 100 lek
Information: The spiralled Clock Tower of Tirana was built in 1822 and contains 90 steps climbing to a height of 35m. It originally contained a bell from Venice that marked the hour but was destroyed by German bombardment during the 2nd World War and was replaced by a numeral clock after the war’s end. The opening times are limited but if you’re lucky your climb will be rewarded with lovely views over the city.
What is it? Main square of Tirana, named after the nationalist hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg
Where is it? Very centre of the city and meeting point of the major roads Kavaja St, Rruga e Durrësit, Bulevardi Zogu I & Rruga e Dibrës
Information: During the Albanian Monarchy, the square was the cultural centre of life, housing the bazaar and other important buildings. During the communist period, the buildings were removed and a statue of Stalin was erected where now the horseback figure of Skanderbeg rises up. Today, the square buzzes with the sound of traffic, the beeping of horns and the chug of engines. On the upside, the square is surrounding by a number of notable buildings including the National Historical Museum, Town Hall, Xhamia e Et’hem Beut & Kulla e Sahatit.
Muzeu Historik Kombëtar
(National Historical Museum)
Monument Type: Museum
Address: Sheshi Skënderbej
Opening Times: Tues – Sat: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sun: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Price: General Admission 200 lek Students 60 lek
Information: The National Historical Museum is Albania’s largest museum and was opened on 28 October 1981. The imposing mosaic façade looming of the main entrance is entitled The Albanians and depicts Albanians victorious, perfect & proud from Illyrian times through to WWII. Inside the museum, the collection is almost entirely in English and contains pieces dating chronologically from ancient Illyria to the new post-communist era. The museum’s highlights are arguably the icons by Onufri, a renowned 16th-century Albanian master of colour and the areas dedicated to those who suffered persecution under the communist regime
Written by: Jon