CHwB Albania says hammam restoration preserved authenticity, restored functionality

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 26, 2015 10:29

CHwB Albania says hammam restoration preserved authenticity, restored functionality

TIRANA, June 25 - Sweden-based Cultural Heritage without Borders has reacted to criticism over the preservation of originality following the restoration of 15th century Ottoman public bath known as hammam in the historic town of Kruja, arguing the changes with putting the monument back to use.

"We understand the surprise, even anger, that you felt when you saw and compared the two photos of the hammam. The monument, when brought back to its original function, continues its life by serving the purpose for which it was built. This brings employment and development and, most importantly, it safeguards the monument," says the NGO which has carried out a number of important restorations throughout Albania.

"This hammam, when it was built, was clearly functioning. We made a conscious decision to safeguard the authentic remains by returning the monument to its original function. Why? Because if we merely covered it and left it in the condition that it was, then this monument would disappear, gradually destroyed by weather and time."

When Prime Minister Rama posted two pictures of the old and the restored hammam in social networks earlier this month, there was a wave of anger with some comments calling it a modern spa and a 21st century work.

The hammam was built in the 15th century. According to researcher Valter Shtylla, it was used as a traditional Turkish-style bathhouse until sometime near the end of the 19th century. Following the turn of the century, it was used as an arms depot (xhibehane) by the Ottoman army.

In the early 20th century, it burned down and left forgotten. In 1967 it was restored by the Institute of Monuments of Culture for the 500th anniversary of the death of Skanderbeg. The institute had restored the domes and roof over the main part of the hammam, but left only the walls of the entrance part. They filled the interior with debris (intentionally, in order to safeguard it), and they changed the level of the entrance to the hammam.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 26, 2015 10:29