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  • Monday, 16 September 2019
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  • Current Issues My Tirana News

    New York Times : Tirana poised to become Europe’s next affordable creative haven


    The Albanian capital where the country’s strange history and bright future collide is the kick-starter of an article dedicated to Tirana by the prestigious American newspaper New York Times, which provides the reader with a thoughtful and perceptive description of the changes that the Albanian capital has undergone in recent years, while also dissecting the potential of the city for a brilliant future.

    “For a good example of the way eras collide in Tirana, just visit Skanderbeg Square, recently renovated with new fountains and rosy granite paving, and home to an 18th-century mosque and minaret, a domed Albanian Orthodox church opened in 2012, a set of government buildings that echo the fascist architecture of Mussolini’s Italy and a Brutalist monolith that houses the National Historical Museum”, writes New York Times journalist Alexander Lobrano.

    The article then briefly describes Albania’s difficult past under Ottoman and Communist rule, and then the first buzz of cultural awakening in 1991. “Tirana may not have a robust avant-garde scene, but it does have a gritty, iconoclastic edge — the Pyramid, a large monument to Hoxha in the center of town, is now popular with skateboarders — and a joie de vivre that’s enticed many former expats”.

    The article provides tourists with smart recommendations when visiting Tirana: thus featuring The Plaza Hotel in the city center and The Rooms Hotel, close to the Block, an area, which under Hoxha’s regime was invisible and untouchable to the common folk. For those who want to taste authentic Albanian cuisine, the Restaurant “Mullixhiu” is a top choice, closely followed by “Oda” for a bite of the traditional pie. The farm “Uka” on the outskirts of Tirana is featured in the article as a place where wine is produced, with Kallmet grapes, as it was done in the past. And for those who want to know more about Albanian history and culture, they have two options: the National History Museum and the Durres Amphitheater.

    Extract from the New York Times article:

    Over the past five years, Albania has been discovered by travelers as that rare thing: a largely unexplored corner of Europe (one with some 265 miles of coastline). The small Balkan country sits just across the Adriatic and Ionian seas from Italy’s heel and a mere 45-minute ferry ride away from the Greek island of Corfu. It’s recently gotten its first high-end waterside resorts, and as the beach town of Sarande and the seaside city of Vlore have become more comfortable, so too has Tirana — the country’s capital, about 22 miles inland with a population of over half a million — grown more cosmopolitan, with new restaurants, shops and galleries joining the almost surrealist pastiche of testaments to the city’s past. For a good example of the way eras collide in Tirana, just visit Skanderbeg Square, recently renovated with new fountains and rosy granite paving, and home to an 18th-century mosque and minaret, a domed Albanian Orthodox church opened in 2012, a set of government buildings that echo the fascist architecture of Mussolini’s Italy and a Brutalist monolith that houses the National Historical Museum.

    Initially settled by Illyrian and Greek tribes during ancient times, Albania spent over four centuries as part of the Ottoman Empire. After 1912, it became a fascist-leaning monarchy, and then, in the wake of World War II, a Communist state ruled by the infamous dictator Enver Hoxha. In 1991, a full year behind many of its Eastern Bloc neighbors, the country saw its first democratic elections, as well as murmurings of a cultural awakening. Tirana may not have a robust avant-garde scene, but it does have a gritty, iconoclastic edge — the Pyramid, a large monument to Hoxha in the center of town, is now popular with skateboarders — and a joie de vivre that’s enticed many former expats. “There’s so much potential,” says Flori Uka, a local winemaker who trained in northeastern Italy and now specializes in vintages made from organic Kallmet grapes grown just outside the city. “We were isolated for so long, but today it’s possible for creative people to do what they love. The place has become very receptive to the new.” Source New York Times. Tiranapost.al

     

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