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. The displays culminate in the hard-hitting Pavilion of Communist Terror, which examines Albanian persecution and repression in the Soviet-led hard-labor camps before Communism fell in 1989.
Sheshi Skënderbej 1 (Skanderbeg Square 1). Open Tue–Sat 10am–5pm; Sun 10am–2pm. Admission 200 lek. Best accessed on foot.