Located on Tirana’s central Skanderbeg Square, the Clock Tower is one of the Albanian capital’s great landmarks and was built in 1822 by Haxhi Et`hem Bey, who also designed the mosque next door. Just over a century later, the height of the clock tower was increased to 115 feet (35 meters) high and today it competes with the slender minaret of the neighboring Et`hem Bey Mosque; by night they are both beautifully illuminated, throwing flickering shadows across the square. The tower is almost Venetian in appearance, with a simple stone tower topped with clocks on all four sides and a pyramid-shaped cupola. Views from the wrought-iron balcony that rings the tower just below the clocks – a climb of 90 stone steps – look down over the great equestrian statue of military hero Skanderbeg, the National Historical Museum, the center of the city and beyond to the Dajti mountain range. A small museum adjacent to the tower holds exhibitions on Albanian life and culture.
Built in the socialist-realist architectural style prevalent in the 1960s under Soviet occupation of Tirana, the National History Museum is almost as well known for the glittering mosaic that enlivens its concrete façade as for its collections. Representing the turbulent history of this troubled nation, the artwork is entitled ‘The Albanians’ and scans thousands of years of invasions from the Roman Empire to the partisans fighting Communism in the late 20th century; it was the joint work of five local artists and was completed in 1980. The museum itself opened in 1981 and is liberally stuffed with the country’s great archaeological legacy; the displays are laid out in chronologically themed rooms and highlights include Roman busts, glittering icons, a replica of the legendary sword of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, and posters printed by the resistance movement during World War II.
This popular natural attraction located just outside of Tirana is the ideal destination for outdoor adventurers in search of an easy day trip from Albania’s capital city.
The stunning and enormous cave offers up incredible interiors and impressive rock formations. Giant stalagmites and stalactites cover the cave and visitors can hear their voices echo off the towering walls. The cave measures some 360-meters deep and at one time was thought to be endless due to its size. Researchers say the cave was once home to a rare species of cave bears and later, during periods of war, was used as a safe haven for villagers.
Fit and intrepid travelers can hike along scenic trails to the top of Dajti Mountain, a 1,613-meter tall peak. But those who prefer to take in nature in a more leisurely way can still access all this beautiful destination has to offer, thanks to the Dajti Express Cable Car that provides a fast-track option straight to the top. Travelers who opt for the 15-minute ride will gain access to epic views that include the Adriatic Sea, the Port of Durres and more. Visitors can wander through shaded forests and even picnic atop this popular peak.