Communist Heritage Sites, Tirana

Communist Heritage Sites (Self Guided), Tirana

For the first 25 years of Albania’s post-communist history, the last thing people wanted to be reminded of was the political repression and economic hardship they had so recently succeeded in getting rid of. Recently, however, national and local authorities have begun to invest in conserving some of the more notable communist sites and curating them so that Albanians and visitors can learn about this difficult and controversial period. ***PH***
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Communist Heritage Sites Map

Guide Name: Communist Heritage Sites
Guide Location: Albania » Tirana (See other walking tours in Tirana)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: rose
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • House of Leaves (Museum of Secret Surveillance)
  • National History Museum
  • Palace of Culture of Tirana
  • BunkArt 2
  • National Art Gallery
  • Pyramid
  • Postbllok Memorial
  • Former Residence of Enver Hoxha in Blloku
House of Leaves (Museum of Secret Surveillance)

1) House of Leaves (Museum of Secret Surveillance)

The Museum of Secret Surveillance, also known as House of Leaves is a historical museum in Tirana. It opened on 23 May 2017 in the building that served as the Sigurimi's headquarter during the communist era.

The museum is dedicated to the innocent people who were spied on, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and executed during the communist regime.

The museum is housed in a two-story villa with a courtyard that dates from 1931 and originally served as the first private obstetrics clinic in Albania, while during the German occupation, the building was used by the Gestapo. After the war it was used as the Sigurimi's interception headquarters until the collapse of the communist regime in 1991.

The Museum of Secret Surveillance opened on 23 May 2017. The building is located in the city center. The building is known as the “House of Leaves”, so called because of the clambering plant that covers its facade. It has 31 rooms.

The museum was awarded the prize of European Museum of the Year Award 2020 by the Council of Europe.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
National History Museum

2) National History Museum (must see)

The National History Museum (Muzeu Historik Kombetar) in Tirana is Albania's largest museum. It was founded on October 28, 1981. Construction of the museum required the demolition of the former Tirana Municipal Building. The gigantic mosaic that appears at the main entrance to the museum is entitled 'The Albanians'. The National History Museum has rooms dedicated to the following: Antiquity, Medieval, Rilindja Kombetare, Iconography, Culture of Albania, Albanian Resistance in World War II, and Communist Genocide.

***A not-to-miss place to learn more about the communist history of Tirana and Albania, is the National Museum of History, the largest museum in the country, It has a special pavilion entirely dedicated to the communist crimes during the regime. The pavilion displays photos, documents and objects belonging to the period, from 1944 to 1990, and is very interesting. A special section is dedicated to the religious victims during those years: In 1967 Albania was declared the first atheist country in the world, and in the following years many religious sites, mosque, churches and monasteries were demolished. ****PH***
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Palace of Culture of Tirana

3) Palace of Culture of Tirana

The Palace of Culture of Tirana (Pallati i Kultures) was built in the Pazari i Vjeter area of Tirana by request of the Communist Party of Albania. The first stone of the building was symbolically laid by Nikita Khrushchev in 1959. Work on the structure was finished in 1963. The architecture is very similar to many communist-era buildings in Eastern Europe. There have been virtually no renovations to the building since its construction. The Palace of Culture includes the National Library of Albania and the National Theater of Opera and Ballet.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
BunkArt 2

4) BunkArt 2 (must see)

Bunk'Art 2 occupies an area of ​​1,000 square meters and consists of 40 rooms, which present the history from 1912 to 1991 through facts obtained from the State Archive and the Ministry of Interior. From room to room, the story unfolds with the creation of the first Gendarmerie, the Zogist Kingdom Gendarmerie, the People's Police, to continue with the barbed wire camps, to prisons, internments and deportations. A separate room is dedicated to the way foreigners who were in our country during the dictatorship were intercepted.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
National Art Gallery

5) National Art Gallery

The National Art Gallery offers a great collection of artwork, dating from the thirteenth century to today. It is one of the few places where you can still find socialist-themed paintings. Women are typically the focus of these compositions.

***The National Art Gallery of Albania is the largest and most important art gallery of the country. For less than €2 you have the chance to admire a great collection of works made by local artists during the communist era. The National Gallery is the only art gallery of Albania that displays socialist-themed paintings and, mostly, paintings with women as protagonists. ****PH***

Opening hours:
Daily: 10 am-6 pm.

6) Pyramid

Tirana's Pyramid is a modern pyramid-style building. It was built as a memorial museum for the ex-communist leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha. The building was designed by Hoxha’s daughter in 1988. It was considered to be the most expensive building erected in Tirana at the time it was built. Today it is the International Center of Culture.
Postbllok Memorial

7) Postbllok Memorial

The Postbllok Memorial is a work of installation art by writer Fatos Lubonja and artist Ardian Isufi.

It is a memorial to the atrocities of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania and opened on March 26, 2013.

The Postbllok Memorial includes three pieces. One is a set of concrete girders taken from Spaç Prison, where Lubonja was imprisoned for a time. The girders are lined up in a row as they would have been in the halls of the Prison.

The second object is a bunker portion of the memorial, one of the main symbols of the dictatorship.

The third element is a piece of the Berlin Wall, meant to symbolize Albania’s isolation, which was a gift from the state government of Berlin to the City of Tirana.

***Postbllok, or Checkpoint, is a memorial to communist isolations created by the former dissident Fatos Lubonja and artist Ardian Isufi, which commemorates the country’s political prisoners of Hoxha’s regime located in front of the Government building, in Bulevardi Mother Theresa. The installation, surrounded by green and trees, includes a bunker, remaining supports of a mining gallery from the labour camp of Spaç and an original piece from the Berlin Wall. We suggest you descend the stairs down the bunker and watch people passing near it.***PH***
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Former Residence of Enver Hoxha in Blloku

8) Former Residence of Enver Hoxha in Blloku

The former residence of Enver Hoxha is located in Blloku, a communist party neighborhood to which access for the general public was forbidden until 1990. After 1990, people flooded into this district to see what it looked like and also see the house where their leader had lived. The former residence of Enver Hoxha, a three-story house painted with pastel colors, apparently was not as luxurious as many had pictured. Today Blloku is a popular district with plenty of nightclubs, pubs, restaurants and shops.

Walking Tours in Tirana, Albania

Create Your Own Walk in Tirana

Create Your Own Walk in Tirana

Creating your own self-guided walk in Tirana is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Tirana Introduction Walking Tour

Tirana Introduction Walking Tour

Tirana has an eventful history. The city has been a part of the Ottoman Empire, suffered through World War II, endured rule by a communist regime, and worked through the disorder of the 1990s after the collapse of communism. The landmarks of Tirana reflect these turbulent times. On this tour you will visit an elegant Ottoman bridge, historic buildings dating back to the nineteenth century, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles