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TIRANA

Tirana (Albanian: Tiranë or Tirana) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Albania. It was founded in 1614 by Sulejman Pasha and became Albania's capital city in 1920.

Tirana is located at 41°19′48″N, 19°49′12″E (41.33°N, 19.82°E) in the eponymous district and county. Its average altitude is 90 metres above sea level. It is on the Ishm River, about 20 miles inland.

TIRANA

TIRANA

Tirana (pronounced: Tih-rana) is the capital and the largest city (1991 est. pop. 300,000) of Albania. It is the administrative, cultural, economic, and industrial center of the Republic of Albania.
The founding and later development of the city of Tirana were made possible by its geographic position on a fertile plain, rich in forest lands and water, and crossroads of the Adriatic and eastern Albania, and through the Qafa e K‘rab‘s valley and the Shkumbin river with the inner parts of the Balkan peninsula. The area around Tirana has been inhabited since the neolithic age. On the mountainside of Dajti are the remains of an ancient castle dating back to the first century B.C., which happens to be the castle that the Byzantine historian Prokop (sixth century) mentions as the castle of Tirkan. The name of the city contains an ancient root that is present in other places that have been inhabited by Illyrians. There was a system of castles on the surrounding hills (Petrel‘, Prez‘, Ndroq, Fark‘, etc.) that served as protection for Durr‘s and Kruja. The oldest discovery in the area of Tirana has been a mosaic with several other remains of buildings of the later antiquity, found at the Kroi i Sh‘ngjinit (Fountain of Sh‘ngjin), near a Medieval temple. The year 1614 is considered the date that Tirana was founded, when Sulejman Pasha Bargjini built a mosque, a hamam (Turkish bath), a bakery, and several shops. Tirana began to develop in the begining of the sixteenth century, when a bazar was established, and its craftsmen made silk, cotton, and leather fabrics, ceramics, iron, silver, and gold artifacts. The first quarter of Tirana was Bami and later the Mujos quarter. The Ethem Bey mosque was built in 1789, which has been preserved and is located at today's Skenderbeg Square. In 1830, the Sahat-Kulla (Clock Tower) was built, which is 35 meters tall. Albanian feudal lords were in conflict over the rule of the town. In the 19th century, the authority of the Toptani family grew in Tirana. During the Rilindja (Albanian national awakening of the 19th century), several of its activists had worked in Tirana. The schools of Tirana began teaching the Albanian language in 1889, and in 1908 the patriotic club "Bashkimi" (Unity) was founded here. On November 26th, 1912, the people of Tirana, in accordance with Ismajl Qemali, rose the Albanian flag to end the rule of the Ottoman Turks in Albania. During the First Balkan War, Tirana was captured by the Serbian army. A large population from Dibra, forcefully expelled from their homes by the Serbian army, in 1913-1915 and 1918-1920, took shelter and settled in Tirana. The inhabitants of Tirana and its surroundings took part in an uprising led by Haxhi Qamili in 1914.

History

History

The area now occupied by the city of Tirana has been populated since Neolithic times, as evidenced by various remains discovered there. A castle, possibly called Tirkan, was built by Emperor Justinian in 520 AD and restored by Ahmed Pasha Toptani in the 18th century. The area had no especial importance in Illyrian and Classical times. There were medieval settlements in the area at Preza, Ndroq, Lalmi and Petrela Castle. In 1418, Marin Barleti, an Albanian Catholic priest and scholar, the first to write a history of Albania, referred to "Plenum Tyrenae," a small village. There are references to "Tirana e Madhe" and "Tirana e Vogël" (Greater and Lesser Tirana).

The records of the first land registrations under the Ottomans in 1431-32 show that Tirana consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 1,000 houses and 7,300 inhabitants. The 1583 registration records that Tirana had 110 inhabited areas, with 2,900 houses and 20,000 inhabitants.

Süleiman Pasha Mulleti (or Sulejman Pasha), a local ruler, established the Ottoman town in 1614 with a mosque, a commercial centre and a hammam (Turkish sauna). The town was located along caravan routes and grew rapidly in importance until the early 19th century. During this period, the mosque in the centre of Tirana, the Et'hem Bey Mosque designed by Molla Bey of Petrela, began to be constructed. It employed the best artisans in the country and was completed in 1821 by Molla's son, who was also Sulejman Pasha’s grand-nephew. After 1816, Tirana languished under the control of the Toptani family of Kruja. The rule of Esat Toptani was so harmful to the city that little or no industrial development occurred until the 20th century.
Tirana on November 20, 1944
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Tirana on November 20, 1944

On February 8, 1920, Tirana was chosen as the temporary capital of Albania, which had acquired independence in 1912, by the Congress of Lushnja. The city retained that status permanently on December 31, 1925. Since 1925, when they were banned in Turkey, the Bektashis, an order of dervishes who take their name from Haji Bektash, a Sufi saint of the 13th and 14th centuries, made Tirana their primary settlement. The first regulatory plan of the city was compiled in 1923 by Estef Frashëri. Durrësi Street was opened in 1922 and was called Nana Mbretneshë (Mother Queen). Many houses and surrounding properties were demolished to make way for it. The existing parliamentary building was raised in 1924 and first served as a club for officers. It was there, in September 1928, that Ahmet Zogu proclaimed the monarchy and styled himself as King Zog I.

The centre of Tirana was the project of Florestano de Fausto and Armando Brasini, well known architects of the Mussolini period in Italy. The Palace of Brigades, the government ministry buildings, the National Bank and the Municipality are their work. The Dëshmoret e Kombit (National Martyrs) Boulevard was built in 1930 and named "Zogu I Boulevard." In the communist period, the part from Skënderbeg Square up to the train station was named Stalin Boulevard. Tirana was occupied until 1944, first by the Italians, and then by the Germans. The Germans eventually withdrew and the communists seized power.

  • Last visit to Tirana: Dec 2003
  • Intro Updated Nov 17, 2006
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