Tirana makes it to Europe’s 2018 top 10 hotspots

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 23, 2018 11:04

Tirana makes it to Europe’s 2018 top 10 hotspots

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  • “A typical day might include catching a cable car from the centre to the city’s peak, Mount Dajti, for panoramic views, lingering over a slow-food experience at a local bistro, and then a night-time tour of the cocktail lounges and designer boutiques of the fashionable Blloku neighbourhood, once the territory of corrupt communist bosses,” Lonely Planet says about Tirana

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TIRANA, May 23 – Albania has made it to the top ten European hotspots for 2018 in Lonely Planet’s travel guide on a list topped by Italy and Spain but also featuring Kosovo, the continent’s youngest country, as a surprise destination to discover.

Albania is represented in the ranking with Tirana, the country’s capital which is described as a vigorous metropolis that has undergone transformation and that offers much to visitors.

“One would be hard-pressed to imagine a better-placed travel hub than Tirana, which sits between the Adriatic Coast and the Albanian Alps. But this is no gateway town; rather, it’s a vigorous metropolis that has undergone a transformation thanks to its former mayor (now Albania’s prime minister), who had drab buildings painted in primary colours, encouraged commuters to eschew their cars for bikes, and placed greater emphasis on the city’s green spaces. The result is compelling,” says Lonely Planet in its Tirana description.

Back in 2011 when Albania was branding its tourism industry as ‘Europe’s last secret’ and a “New Mediterranean love,” the popular travel guide ranked long-isolated Albania under communism as the number one global destination to visit.

“A typical day might include catching a cable car from the centre to the city’s peak, Mount Dajti, for panoramic views, lingering over a slow-food experience at a local bistro, and then a night-time tour of the cocktail lounges and designer boutiques of the fashionable Blloku neighbourhood, once the territory of corrupt communist bosses,” Lonely Planet says about Tirana.

Tirana’s deputy Mayor Arbjan Mazniku says Lonely Planet’s ranking of Tirana among Europe’s top 10 destination is good news, but not something unexpected as more and more tourists have been visiting capital city in the past few years.

“Tirana will showcase a series of events this summer, at least two to three each week. Of course, being landlocked, Tirana is not the country’s main destination, but yet is the starting point to many international tourists,” Mazniku told a local TV this week.

Two famous singers of Albanian roots will perform at Tirana’s reconstructed Skanderbeg central square in early June.

Kosovo-born, UK-based R&B singer Rita Ora will be performing on June 3. The Kosovo-Albanian singer also previously performed in Tirana in 2012 when Albanian celebrated its 100th independence anniversary and was also one of the Albanian performers at a concert at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City in Sept. 2016 when the world famous nun of Albanian origin was declared a Saint.

Rita Ora’s concert will be preceded by another emerging Albanian talent, Italy-based singer-songwriter Ermal Meta who in 2018 won Italy’s Sanremo music festival and successfully represented Italy at the Eurovision song contest to finish fifth.

Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj has earlier invited beach holidaymakers to spend evenings in the company of  Tirana events.

Tirana is a 400-year-old town that has been the country’s capital city since 1920 when its population was at only more than a dozen thousand compared to a present day 800,000.

Tirana was established in 1614 by Sulejman Pasha from the village of Mullet who first build a mosque, a bakery and a Turkish sauna. However, the capital outskirts boast settlements and archeological heritage dating back to ancient times.

In addition to the communist legacy for more almost five decades until the early 1990s, Tirana and many Albanian cities also owe much to Italian 20th century architecture.

Italian architects designed major public buildings and squares in Albania from 1925 to 1943. In Tirana, Italian planners and architects designed the main square named after the national hero Skanderbeg, the central boulevard, the ministry buildings, the national bank and the town hall.

The communist regime has also left its mark with several Socialist Realism and former Soviet Union style buildings.

Last year, Tirana’s landmark Skanderbeg square was given a facelift that completely transformed the most important public space linked to a number of historical events and manifestations from King Zog’s reign until WWII, to the communist takeover and the early 1990s protests for democratic changes.

Tirana is also becoming an emerging adventure travel destination with sites such as Mount Dajti, the Pellumbus Cave, the Erzen and Tujan Canyons, outside the capital attracting more and more adventure travelers.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 23, 2018 11:04