Albania, Vlora Guide (B): Vlora on the Albanian Riviera
Vlora (also spelt Vlorë) resembles a butterfly emerging from the Communist chrysalis that enveloped Albania until 1991. Ideally situated on a stunning coastline Vlora is the second largest port in Albania. Its seafront has already been transformed into an open area surrounded by bars.
Vlora has had plenty to celebrate in the past. It was the first Albanian town to celebrate independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. It was here that Ismail Qemali raised the ‘new’ flag of Albania – double headed eagle on a red background. And it was here that Ismail Qemali served as Albania’s first prime minister in a nineteenth century building that is now the National Museum of Independence commemorating Albania’s independence. Qemali’s reign as Prime Minister may have been brief but his spirit lives on in Vlora. His office has been preserved in the museum. His name has been given to the main boulevard that stretches from the sea front to the centre of town.
Ismail Qemali Boulevard straddles two eras as modern buildings, shops and cafes line one side but opposite them are the drab blocks from the Communist era. Efforts are being made to brighten them up with colourful murals and small, green parks provide places of rest and refreshment for the locals. The local men that is. Traditionally Albanian men meet to drink coffee and chat. This is an activity that can take several hours. Meanwhile the women are at work either in the home or on the streets selling anything they can find to sell. The brilliant hues of fresh produce provide a sharp contrast with the black garb of women over sixty. Tradition dictates this is the colour widows must wear once they reach the age of sixty. Male widowers can wear what they like whatever age they are. ...... (follow the instructions below for accessing the rest of this article).
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