Marubi Museum in Shkodra| Image Courtesy of Marubi Museum, Photographer Blerta Hoçia
Despite its small size, Albania has plenty of things to offer its visitors. When you think about the Land of the Eagles, you might immediately think of the stunning beaches of the Albanian Riviera or the vibrant nightlife of the capital city Tirana. However, the country has so much more to offer than beautiful beaches and cool cafés. If you are planning to visit Albania, don’t miss the chance to visit its interesting and gorgeous museums to learn more about the ancient history of this Balkan country.
Tirana is one of the liveliest capitals of the Balkan Peninsula with plenty of museums and art galleries that are worth a visit. Once in town, don’t miss BunkArt, a gorgeous museum built inside a huge underground bunker that was constructed during the communist-era on the outskirts of Tirana (we suggest grabbing a cab to reach it). The bunker was built to accommodate the former dictator Enver Hoxha in case of a nuclear attack. Hoxha died a few years before the bunker was completed and it was never used for its purpose. Today, the bunker has been converted into one of the coolest history museums and contemporary art galleries of the Balkan Peninsula, perfect for those who are interested to learn something about the modern history of Albania: BunkArt provides an interesting journey through the recent history of the country, from the Italian occupation to the communism.
The BunkArt2 from the Outside | Image Courtesy of BunkArt2
Located in the centre of Tirana, just a few steps from the majestic and recently renewed Skanderbeg Square, BunkArt2 is another not-to-miss museum in Tirana and Albania. Smaller than BunkArt and easily reachable by foot, BunkArt2 is dedicated to the victims of the communist regime and brings attention to the activities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs during communism. At the entrance, a voice reads the names of those who were convicted by the regime.
The Yellow Room of Museum of Medieval , Korça | Images Courtesy of Museum of Medieval Art of Korça
The Museum of Medieval Art in Korça is a must-see attraction for history and art lovers thanks to its large collection of more than 7,000 items of immeasurable cultural significance, such as stones, jewelry, fine metals, textiles, and papers found in the area. The best part of the collection is represented by the paintings and religious icons remembered by some of the most important Albanian artists of the past like Onufri, the Zografi brothers, David Selenica, and so on.
Instruments for photography in the Marubi Museum, Shkodra | Image Courtesy of Marubi Museum, Photographer Blerta Hoçia
Located in the beautiful Pedonalja of Shkodra, the most important town north of Albania, Marubi Museum hosts Albania’s best photography collections. Open in 2016, the museum displays the impressive work of the Marubi family, starting with Pietro Marubbi, an Italian painter and photographer who escaped from Italy for political reasons in the nineteenth century and emigrated to Shkodra, where he founded the first photo studio in the country. The collection includes the first photograph taken in Albania by Marubi in 1858, town life in Shkodra, street scenes and several public events.
The ancient town of Kruja is known to be the home of the greatest Albanian hero of all time, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg. During the fifteenth century, Skanderbeg made Kruja a bastion of resistance against the advance of the Ottoman Empire. Everything in Kruja is related to the national leader: the big statue located at the entrance of the old town, the souvenirs sold in the lovely ancient market and the gorgeous Skanderbeg Museum. The museum hosts beautiful paintings representing battle scenes, giant statues of Skanderbeg and other warriors, as well as a dramatic battle mural located in the first room.
If you are planning to visit Tirana, you can’t miss the largest museum in Albania, the National History Museum. You can easily find it because it is located in the central Skanderbeg Square and has a gorgeous coloured mosaic that represents the most important phases of Albanian history. The museum displays the history of the country from Paleolithic to communist rule. The highlights here are a gorgeous exhibit of icons by Onufri and the replica of Skanderbeg’s massive sword used to fight the Ottomans.
Korça is considered by Albanians to be the cultural capital of the country because of its cultural importance. The town is home to the first Albanian language school, which officially opened March 7, 1887, under the Ottoman Empire. The National Museum of Education is located inside the building that hosted the first school of the country, near the Pedonalja, the large pedestrian street that connects to the majestic Cathedral of the Resurrection of Korça. The museum displays books and copies of the first written Albanian alphabet, as well as photos of national heroes who contributed to the opening of the school.