The streets of Tirana.
Image by Dori under Creative Commons License.

Albania, Tirana Guide (A): The streets of Tirana.

This is my walking tour of Tirana, Albania. My name is Hamzah. I will take you to 12 interesting sites in Tirana. Most of the sites on this tour will show you places you would probably not normally see in a standard travel brochure. As you travel from one site to another you will be able to experience the real Tirana from the inside. So the coolest thing about this tour is not just the sites themselves, but the sites between the sites.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: The streets of Tirana.
Guide Location: Albania » Tirana
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 3.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.8 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Xhamia Ethem Bej   Kulla e Sahatit (Tirana Clock Tower)   Xhamia Dine Hoxha   National Museum   Tirana International Hotel   Medreseja e Tiranes   Pazar i ri (New Bazaar)   Tomb of Kaplan Pasha   Stefan Center   Pyramid of Enver Hoxha   Mother Theresa Square   Lake Tirana  
Author: Hamzah Hoaglin
Author Bio: My name is Hamzah, I'm an American citizen from the St. Louis, Missouri area. I love history, religion, food, and travelling to places off the beaten path.
Xhamia Ethem Bej

1) Xhamia Ethem Bej

Let's get started in Skenderbeg square. If you look around you should see a statue of Skenderbeg on a horse, a mosque, the international hotel, the museum and across the street a bunch of random dudes selling cellphones and various whatnots to passersby. If you see all these things you can relax, you're in the right place. At present you will see a lot of construction in this area. The square is under renovation by a partnership between Albania and the government of Kuwait. This is...
Kulla e Sahatit (Tirana Clock Tower)

2) Kulla e Sahatit (Tirana Clock Tower)

If you're standing at Xhamia Ethem Bej, you can't miss the Clock Tower. It's literally a few steps to the left of the mosque. It was built around 1822 by Ethem Bej, the same guy who built the mosque. Like Xhamia Ethem Bej, it is featured in many photos and souvenirs of Tirana. During World War 2 Albania was occupied by the Italians and then the Germans. I've heard the clock tower was damaged in fighting between the Germans and Communist partisans but was repaired after the...
Xhamia Dine Hoxha

3) Xhamia Dine Hoxha

Ethem Bej might be the oldest existing mosque in Tirana, but Dine Hoxha is the largest. It was built around 1913 and was officially named Xhamia Haxhi Hafiz Dashi, but because the man who donated the land was called Dine Hoxha, the mosque came to be popularly known as "Xhamia Dine Hoxha". There is a small plaque on the front of the mosque explaining this. It is 3 stories tall, has separate entrances and prayer rooms for men and women, a nice collection of books, one minaret and a shiny...
National Museum

4) National Museum

For me, this place is a must see. If you're standing in front of Ethem Bej, just turn in the opposite direction and you'll see the museum. It's a large building with a big mural on the front. I don't remember the price, I think they might have actually let me in for free. Regardless, I imagine it's pretty cheap.

Inside the museum, you will see tons of artifacts from Albanian history, from the times of ancient Greece to present. Albania is rich with history, they had...
Image by Edi-9/11 under Creative Commons License.
Tirana International Hotel

5) Tirana International Hotel

While we are still in the the square, I should mention the Tirana International, which is the tall building across the street to the right of the Museum. This is where the heavy hitters and VIPs stay when they come to Tirana. I've never stayed the night there as the rates are a little high for the average budget traveler/backpacker, but I have been to the lobby for a look around. There is a restaurant, conference rooms, an information desk, all the accoutrements of a modern hotel in the...
Medreseja e Tiranes

6) Medreseja e Tiranes

I know what some of you are saying. "Damn Hamzah, why all the religious places?" LOL. You have a point, but there are a couple reasons for this. One, this is middle Albania which is like the "Quran belt" of Albania. You can't be in Tirana without at least mentioning it. I also feel as a Muslim that not many people know about Islam in Southeast Europe, so many people think that Islam is a religion that exists only in the Middle East or North Africa. So I would just like...
Image by goldenboy883 under Creative Commons License.
Pazar i ri (New Bazaar)

7) Pazar i ri (New Bazaar)

At one time there was an old Turkish style Bazaar in Tirana, but unfortunately it was destroyed by the state during the Communist era because it was seen as old fashioned. The regime wanted to replace old manners with new manners. The area of the old bazaar is now a park located behind the palace of culture.

However, not too far from the site of the old bazaar is "Pazar i ri", the new bazaar. Mostly you will find food there. They have every kind of food you can imagine and it's...
Tomb of Kaplan Pasha

8) Tomb of Kaplan Pasha

Not far from Ethem Bej and close to the area of the old bazaar is an area known as Sulejman Square. You'll see the statue of the "Unknown Partisan" and a statue of Sulejman Pasha, the founder of Tirana. This area used to be the location of the Sulejman mosque, but it was badly damaged in a big battle, probably the same battle in which the clock tower was damaged. The partisans came down the street from the right and left and when you're there you can almost imagine how it...
Image by Sunmaya under Creative Commons License.
Stefan Center

9) Stefan Center

I didn't spend a lot of time here to be honest, but I'm including it for some of you who might be staying in Tirana and longing for a taste of home. There a lot of foreign (mostly Mormon) missionaries and expats who hang out in this area. There are some places there that serve American food and coffee, and you can usually find some random Brits, Germans or Americans hanging out and eating there. American coffee is one thing that is lacking in Albania, Albanian coffee is like Turkish...
Image by Edo-9/11 under Creative Commons License.
Pyramid of Enver Hoxha

10) Pyramid of Enver Hoxha

From 1945 to 1985, Albania was ruled by one man and his name was Enver Hoxha. You will find both fans and detractors of Enver in today's Albania. The successor party to Enver's PPSh (Labor Party of Albania) is still alive in the form of the Partia Socialist (Socialist Party) and is the majority party of Albania. The mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama is also the head of the party. Rather one likes or dislikes Enver, you can't argue with results. Before Enver, Albania was the only nation in...
Mother Theresa Square

11) Mother Theresa Square

Named after the famous Mother Theresa, who a lot of people don't know was of Albanian descent. I think she was actually born in Macedonia, but Macedonia has a large Albanian minority.

There is really not a lot to see here but I'm mentioning it because it is a gateway to Tirana University and the cool little coffee shops and bookstores that are the cornerstone of University life the world...
Image by sonjabgd under Creative Commons License.
Lake Tirana

12) Lake Tirana

This is a park somewhat akin to Central Park in New York. The park itself is very large and surrounds the lake itself. The lake is artificial and was dug during the Communist era. There is a long jogging track along the lake with pedestrian walkways for those who would rather take their time. Several coffee bars and a hotel also dot the interior of the park. There is also a small Neo Roman amphitheater for plays and whatnot. Although large, one can easily see from one side of the lake to the...