Tag Archives: South Albania

South Albania: Mountains, Sea and Sharp Contrasts


One of the best get away places in Albania is the south costal area. Not just because of its beatific and spectacular coastal area, but especially because of its highly contrasting forms and ubiquitous heritage. Driving through the mountains along the seaside is a special feeling. For me as a native, it’s a bit like „some things never change“ – type of feeling, and for nostalgic purposes, it’s good that way.

The mountains, deep blue sea, and curvy roads often occupied by a little army of goats or cute sheeps are still there. So are the beekeepers harvesting bio honey and selling it along the road. The further you advance along the coastal line, leaving behind little villages nowadays hipped as cool places to spend the summer, the more you realize that time has stood still here. That’s what I felt when I visited the castle of Ali Pasha in Porto Palermo.

The fortress of Ali Pasha, built in the 1820, is important not only for its historic value as it used to be first the centerpiece of bloody conflicts with burgeoning Ottoman empire, but also for its transformation during the centuries. There’s something spooky about it. It starts with being the fortress of a controversial personality such as Ali Pasha.  And furthermore its transformation from the legendary residence of Ali Pasha to the Albanian Alcatraz in the late communist year.

I refer to it as the Albanian Alcatraz for two reasons. First, its location a castle in a triangle shape and round towers built by the sea.  The second reason is that many political opponents of the former Zog monarchy and the Hoxha communist regime were imprisoned in this castle. Many of their names have been written in the walls of the castle.

There is hardly no other place in Albania where history was so overlapped and left such scars like here. Around the Ali Pasha Castle and the church build from an Italian architect as his gift for his beloved christian wife Vassilikia, are ruins of communist army depot holding still communist slogans such as „ Viti 1972 vit i fitoreve të reja” „1972 is the year of new victories“.

This mixture of history traces together with the lack of restoration of its surroundings and  a certain negligence in preserving the past historical values give this place a special authentic touch – but also these photos urge a restoration need.

20 Places that will change your Mind about Albania


Colorful landscapes, lakes, high mountains, rivers and valleys. Natural beauties that blend in cultural and historical heritage, inherited from our forefathers. All blended in the hospitable Albanian traditions that will follow you through your journey in Albania. So guys are you ready?

1. You didn’t know there are so many canyons and waterfalls? Well, I have good news, there actually are and I wouldn’t miss this one, Valbona Canyon.

Valbona Canyon

© My Albania “Nature Explorers” – Valbona Canyon, North Albania

2. How about beaches – not bitches… Just head south and the crystal clear Ionian waters of Gjiri i Granës will certainly not disappoint you.

Gjiri i Gramës

© Arton Krasniqi – Gjiri i Granës, Dhërmi, – South Albania

3. Welcome to Thethi! The gate to the Albanian Alps, waterfalls and canyons. Simply an amazing place for explorers and nature lovers to visit.

Stone Towers of Thethi

© My Albania “Nature Explorers” – Kullat e Thethit, North Albania

4. Is hiking too much for you? You’re in the right place. There’s a touch of melancholia every time I spend a night or two in the vicinity of Ohrid lake. Inspired from the changing moods of these waters was the Albanian poet Lasgush Poradeci. He observed the mountains casting their shadows over the depths of its sparkling waters and blended those landscapes in his poetry.

Lake of Ohrid, Pogradec

© My Albania “Nature Explorers” – Ohrid Lake, Pogradec, South East Albania

5. The surrounding sea waters form the only marine park in Albania – Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park.

Karaburun Peninsula

© Nëntor Oseku, Gjiri i Bristanit, Karaburun Peninsula

6. Another unique gem in Theth – Ujvara e Grunasit. So rare that it is considered a natural monument.

Wasserfall of Grunas, Theth

© My Albania “Nature Explorers” – Ujvara e Grunasit, Theth – Grunas Waterfall, North Albania

7. Time for history. Apollonia, the ruins of an ancient city in Illyria. It was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, on a site initially occupied by Illyrian tribes.

Apollonia

© My Albania “Nature Explorers” – Apollonia, Fier

8. Ksamil Beach – A hideaway for many local and foreign tourists.

Ksamil Beach

© My Albania “Nature Explorers” – Ksamil Beach, South Albania

9. And many other valleys…

Valbona

© My Albania “Nature Explorers” – Lugina e Valbonës, North Albania

10. Dea – the Godness of Butrint, was discovered from the Italian archeologist Ugolini in1928. The Guardian recently listed the national park of Butrint as part of the top 10 national parks in Europe.

Dea

© Robert Hagen – Dea e Butrintit 

11. Kruja, the first capital of today’s Albania in the Middle Ages. It’s identified with our national hero, Skanderbeg.

Kruja

© Arton Krasniqi – Kruja, Albania

12. Mrizi i Zanave – Well known for its culinary delights and agritourism in the northern Albania. A lovely place to visit.

Fishtë

© Armela Bega – Mrizi i Zanave, Fishtë

13. More cliffs and rocky seaside…

The Pirates' Cave

© Armela Bega – Caves, South Albania

14. Too sunny and need some fresh air? Take the water motor bikes and head towards the Pirates’ cave. Afterwards, a stop at some of those hidden beaches is not a bad idea.

The Pirates' Cave

© Armela Bega – Shpella e piratëve – Pirates’ Cave, South Albania

15. Ok, let’s put it this way: If I were to retire today and I had to live somewhere in Albania, I would happily live in Dardha.

Dardha Village

© Armela Bega – Dardhë, Korca, South East Albania

16. Back to the 15th century there were no smartphones. During Skanderbeg’s fight against the Ottomans, the Petrela Castle, which was under control of Skanderbeg’s sister Mamica, signaled to Kruja Castle the coming of Ottoman troops using means of fire. Nowadays, it’s a pleasant bar/restaurant near Tirana.

Fortress of Petrela, Tirana

© Armela Bega – Kalaja e Petrelës – Petrela Fortress, Petrelë, Albania

17. Berat is known as the city of two thousand stairs or thousand windows, a castle on top, medieval museum and a beautiful river. Worth visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Berat

© Sarah Tzinieris – Berat, Albania

18. The Blue Eye is one of the most natural phenomenas in Albania. Crystal clear water bubbling in the surface from more than 50 meter deep karst hole (literally looks like a blue eye) and it’s surrounded by shades of green water. Here is a great video.

Blue Eye Saranda

© Sarah Tzinieris – Syri i Kaltër, Sarandë, South Albania

19. I can tell you that canoeing through Osumi River Canyon was a sensational experience. This spectacular landscape resembles a miniature Grand Canyon.

Canyons Skrapar

© Fadion Dashi – Osumi Canyons, Skrapar

20. Last, but definitely not least: This stop is the ultimate spot for your next Facebook poser shot. What a divine view and a deep sense of freedom! This daring traveller took the chance cruising through the steep and curvy Pass of Llogara…

IMG_3647

© Armela Bega – Llogara National Park, South Albania