Talking about the capital city in Albania, Tirana stories and stories can be shared from the beginning of the forming until nowadays. It is the largest city in Albania existing since 1614. The center of Tirana was conceived as a monumental space.
However, nowadays Tirana is a very pleasant city, and the cultural, entertainment and political centre of Albania. Home to a rapidly-growing population of nearly one million (Albania’s total population stands at around three million), Tirana has a buzz that you won’t find anywhere else in this nation. Here are a few reasons to make the Albanian capital so special.
Albania has a mild, Mediterranean climate. In Tirana and in other inland cities on the plains, temperature sometimes drops below freezing, but this is usually only at night, and it is rare for ice or snow to last more than a day. Albanian winters are mild, especially in the lower regions along the coastline. On average, winters are not cold here. Daytime temperatures around or even above 10 degrees Celsius are not uncommon. Tirana also gets covered in snow from time to time.
The Albanian monetary unit is called “Leke”. The exchange is about 136 lek to 1 euro, and about 100 leke to 1 US dollar. On the rate boards in banks and exchange offices (kembim valuator) the initials ALL are sometimes used instead of the “leke”.
Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks at exchange offices (kembim valutor). The most commonly accepted currencies are the US dollar and the euro. Banks and exchange offices will have a rate for major currencies other than these. Banks are open only on weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Cashpoint machines or ATMs can be found in all major cities in Albania. Most of the machines are linked to the Visa and Cirrus networks; some, like Pro-Credit Bank, are also connected to the Maestro and MasterCard networks. Although you can use your credit card to withdraw cash, you cannot use it to pay for goods or services except in a few of the most up-market hotels and restaurants.
Origin and development of Albanian language
Albanian is a language of the extensive Indo-European family and is thus related to a certain degree to almost all other languages of Europe. At the same time, Albanian shows no particularly close historical affinity to any other language or language group within the Indo-European family, i.e. it forms a language group of its own. The Albanian language (shqip) is spoken by over six million people in the southwestern Balkans, primarily in the Republic of Albania and in the neighbouring countries which once formed a part of the Yugoslav federation (Kosova, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia). In Albania itself, the language is spoken by the entire population of 3,087,159 inhabitants, including some bilingual ethnic minorities.
Enjoy Albanian hospitality
Albanians are very friendly towards foreign visitors, you will be surprised of getting invitations for coffee, and this is a local custom that is present with ages. Having been isolated from the rest of the world for the latter half of the twentieth century, many are curious about the influx of travelers.
Positive surprise from the local colours
No doubt that wherever your destination will be you can easily cover Tirana’s central area in a day. Be prepared for a leisurely exploration of museums, monuments, historic buildings and parks; also make some time to marvel at the city’s concrete housing estates. Painted in rainbow colours, they add brightness to what was once a rather monochrome cityscape. You can enjoy with huge smile walking through these places.
A not-so-ancient pyramid
You will find Tirana’s concrete pyramid, Piramida, a short walk from Skanderbeg Square. Built in 1987 by the daughter of Albania’s dictator Enver Hoxha (who tyrannically ruled Albania from 1944–85) as a museum to her father, it now sits abandoned of the tiles that once covered it and splattered with graffiti. There is a talk of demolishing it, but some argue that it should be kept intact as an apt monument to Stalinism’s ugly spirit.
Relaxation in Parku i Madh (The Grand Park)
This large, wooden park is where many of Tirana’s citizens head for a bit of time out, whether it’s fishing in the artificial lake, picnicking on the lawns or kicking-back in one of the many café-bars. Considering how oppressive Tirana’s traffic can get, this park allows the city’s Mediterranean ambience to shine.
Visit the seaside within a day
The historic city of Durrësi on the Adriatic Sea was, for decades, where the power in Tirana went to relax (both Enver Hoxha and King Zog had holiday homes here). These days it’s largely Kosovar tourists who make use of the plentiful cheap hotels and restaurants along the seafront. Things are rough and ready, but Durrësi is lively, inexpensive and easily accessible.