Europes last secret,4 UNESCO sites , 4 Countries in 2 weeks

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Tirana, Tirana County – Albania
Duration: 14 days
Maximum Number Of Travelers: 9
Prices Start At          $1,700  USD

Highlights

Start and end in Tirana! With the sightseeing tour 4 UNESCO sites – 4 Countries in 2 weeks – Europe’s Last Secret, you have a 14 day tour package taking you through Tirana, Albania and 20 other destinations in Europe. 4 UNESCO sites – 4 Countries in 2 weeks – Europe’s Last Secret is a small group tour that includes accommodation as well as transport

Kruje Castle, once headquarters of Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero

Kruje, also Kruja in English, is a city in Albania just north of Tirana.

Kruje was the de facto capital of Skanderbeg. Due to its high position it was possible to communicate from there to other castles of the country by using light/fire signs. Krujë itself is a small city situated approximately 31 kilometers (20 miles) north of the capital city of Tirana and is a place rich in history. While the region has been populated since the 3rd century B.C. it was also home to the eponymous Alban tribe as well as Gjergj Skanderbeg, the national hero of Albania. Kruja has a long list of attractions to offer tourists from the ancient castle nestled in the craggy rocks, two museums, stunning views, a nearby national park, sacred temples, natural springs, the ancient city ruins of Albanopolis, and

Kruje is small enough to get around on foot very easily. It is built on a mountainside, with the one-street bazaar the central attraction, and the renovated castle just above and to the south.

Kruje Ethnological Museum

  •  Kruje Castleat the top of a craggy mountain 680 meters (2,230 feet) above sea level. From the castle there is a broad view that spans from Mount Tomori in the south to Ulcinj in the north with views of the Adriatic coast throughout.The castle features an arched tunnel as its entrance and once inside you can find castle remnants, the watch tower, two museums, restaurants, and homes that are still occupied to this day. The Skanderbeg Museum was opened November 1, 1982 and is centered around an epic man of the 15th century who held off the invasion of the Ottoman Empire for 25 years. The museum recognizes the lasting strength and subsequent loss of the army of Skanderbeg. The national museum engenders the character of a memorial and opens to a stunning sculptural fresco representing our hero Skanderbeg amongst his cohorts. The museum holds artifacts, writings, and accounts of Skanderbeg’s life and death, while additional displays continue to be added as discoveries are made. The Kruja Ethnographic Museum is what was the home of the Toptani family, built in a style known as Çadak, characteristic of the Krujë area at the time and dates back to the year 1764. The Toptanis were noble rulers of the area up until their move to Tirana. The house was declared a museum in 1959 and was restored by professor Emin Riza. The home allows you to experience daily life in this time period and is complete with interactive cultural displays and original furnishings. The Dollma Bektashi Tekke shrine is also found within the Krujë castle walls. The shrine was a place for spiritual retreat and character reformation for the Tekke faith. In front of the shrine’s doors, on the sacred grounds, is a large olive tree planted on the day of Skanderbeg’s wedding. The watch tower is one of the few rremaining towers found within. It stretches an additional 16 m (53 feet) above the castle walls and once provided a complete view of the horizon allowing the monitoring of enemy movements in three directions while staying protected to the east by Mount Krujë. The bell found inside the tower announced the death of Skanderbeg, the Albanian national hero, and can now be seen in the Skanderbeg Museum.
  • Medieval Hamam (on the southwestern edge of the castle). The steam bath is another legacy of medieval life in Kruja. The hamam was built at the end of the 15th century, and consists of four areas: the changing room, the middle room which has remnants of a tank, and two separate bathing areas with water supplied by the well of the square. In the middle of the main room is the kettle where water was heated. This hamam was used by the city’s elite. In 1963, it was proclaimed a first degree cultural monument.
  • Church of Skanderbeg (The church in the Castle of Kruja). This church dates to the 15th century. It is built over the ruins of an older church from which is saved a part of its frescos. Its existence was found in the 80s (20th century) during excavations.
  • The Tower Houses of KrujaThe Buildings qualified as tower-houses because besides living, they have served also for protection against any possible aggressor. Such houses can be found in the old neighborhoods of Kruja .
  •  Faith Mosque (near the Skanderbeg Museum). It is thought to have similarity with the mosque in the Castle of Preza. It dates in the end of the 15th century.
  •  Old BazaarThe Old Bazaar of Kruja dates to the 17th century and is known by the locals as Derexhiku. It was built approximately 400 years ago and had about 200 shops starting from neat Kruja City Hall to the entrance gates of Kruja Castle. The first shops are thought to have started next to the castle entrance and over the years the shops expanded towards what is now the center of town. The shops line the street on both sides creating roads of roof-covered storefronts whose sloping roofs create an arcade along its length. The main crafts and trades in these shops have been leather working, silk, kitchen utensils, furniture, tailoring, pottery, carpentry, cafes, wood carving, butchers, barbers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, and wool workers. In the Old Bazaar today you can find objects and handmade items from traditional artisans as well as antiques collected from Kruja and the surrounding areas.
  • Merat Beut Mosque (in the Old Bazaar). The Mosque was built in 1533 during the Ottoman invasion. It’s unique architecturally, and matches in harmony with the Old Bazaar. It is also considered a cultural monument. During the Communist times, the mosque was closed and its minaret reopened once again in 1991, and is visited by locals and foreign tourists alike.
  • Cave of Sari Salltëku (at the top of Mount Krujë). The cave of Sari Salltëku is considered sacred within the Bektashi faith.
  • Skanderbeg Monument (in the center of town). a monument for the national hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. The statue was erected on November 28, 1959 and was designed by sculptor Pascal Odysseus. It was officially declared to be a national cultural monument in 1963. The statue depicts Skanderbeg charging into war atop his stallion with sword drawn.
  • Albanopolis (in the village of Zgerdhesh, 5 km away from Fushe-Kruja). an Illyrain city and the capital city of the Albans, an Illyrian tribe which used to live in the zone. It is thought to be the city from which Albania and the Albanians inherited this name.

Early history of scodra

In the 4th century BC, Scodra was the capital of the Illyrian tribe of the Ardiaeis.

The earliest signs of human activity in the lands of Shkodër can be traced back to the Bronze Age. The favorable conditions on the fertile plain, around the lake, have brought people here from early antiquity. Artefacts and inscriptions, discovered in the Rozafa Castle, are assumed to be the earliest examples of symbolic behaviour in humans in the city. Although, it was known under the name Scodra and was inhabited by the Illyrian tribe of the Ardiaei, which ruled over a large territory between modern Albania up to Croatia. Queen Teuta, King Agron, and King Gentius, were among the most famous personalities of the Labeates.
The city was first mentioned during the antiquity as the site of the Illyrian Labeates in which he minted coins and that of Queen Teuta. In 168 BC, the city was captured by the Romans and became an important trade and military route. The Romans colonized the town. Scodra remained in the province of Illyricum, and later Dalmatia. By it 395 AD, it was part of the Diocese of Dacia, within Praevalitana.

 

Ottoman Period

The Mes Bridge was built in 1770 and is one of the longest Ottoman bridges in the region.

With two sieges, Shkodër became secure as an Ottoman territory. It became the centre of the sanjak and by 1485 there were 27 Muslim and 70 Christian hearths, although by the end of the next century there were more than 200 Muslim ones compared to the 27 Christian ones, respectively.
Military manoeuvres in 1478 by the Ottomans meant that the city was again entirely surrounded by Ottoman forces. Mehmed the Conqueror personally laid the siege. About ten heavy cannons were cast on site. Balls as heavy as 380kg were fired on the citadel (such balls are still on display on the castle museum). Nevertheless, the city resisted. Mehmed left the field and had his commanders continue the siege. By the winter the Ottomans had captured one after the other all adjacent castles: Lezhë, Drisht, and Žabljak Crnojevića. This, together with famine and constant bombardment lowered the morale of defenders. On the other hand, the Ottomans were already frustrated by the stubborn resistance. The castle is situated on a naturally protected hill and every attempted assault resulted in considerable casualties for the attackers. A truce became an option for both parties. On January 25 an agreement between the Venetians and the Ottoman Empire ended the siege, permitting the citizens to leave unharmed, and the Ottomans to take over the deserted city.

Modern

Shkodër during the First Balkan War.

Shkodër played an important role during the League of Prizren, the Albanian liberation movement. The people of Shkodër participated in battles to protect Albanian land. The branch of the League of Prizren for Shkodër, which had its own armed unit, fought for the protection of Plav, Gusinje, Hoti, and Gruda, and the war for the protection of Ulcinj. The Bushati Library, built during the 1840s, served as a center for the League of Prizren’s branch for Shkodër. Many books were collected in libraries of Catholic missionaries working in Shkodër. Literary, cultural, and sports associations were formed, such as Bashkimi (“The Union”) and Agimi (“The Dawn”). The first Albanian newspapers and publications printed in Albania came out of the printing press of Shkodër. The Marubi family of photographers began working in Shkodër, which left behind over 150,000 negatives from the period of the Albanian liberation movement, the rise of the Albanian flag in Vlorë, and life in Albanian towns during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
During the Balkan Wars, Shkodër went from one occupation to another, when the Ottomans were defeated by the Kingdom of Montenegro. The Ottoman forces led by Hasan Riza Pasha and Esad Pasha had resisted for seven months the surrounding of the town by Montenegrin forces and their Serbian allies. Esad (Hasan had previously been mysteriously killed by Esad Pasha Toptani in an ambush inside the town) finally surrendered to Montenegro in April 1913, after Montenegro suffered a high death toll with more than 10,000 casualties. Miss Edith Durham also notes the cruelties suffered at the hand of Montenegrins in the wake of October 1913: “Thousands of refugees arriving from Djakovo and neighbourhood. Victims of Montenegro. My position was indescribably painful, for I had no funds left, and women came to me crying: ‘If you will not feed my child, throw it in the river. I cannot see it starve.'”Twenty Years of Balkan Tangle: M.Edith Durham Montenegro was compelled to leave the city to the new country of Albania in May 1913, in accordance with the London Conference of Ambassadors.
During World War I, Montenegrin forces again occupied Shkodër on June 27, 1915. In January 1916, Shkodër was taken over by Austria-Hungary and was the center of the zone of their occupation. When the war ended on 11 November 1918, French forces occupied Shkodër as well as other regions with sizable Albanian populations. After World War I, the international military administration of Albania was temporarily located in Shkodër, and in March 1920, Shkodër was put under the administration of the national government of Tirana. In the second half of 1920, Shkodër resisted another threat, the military intervention of the forces of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
Shkodër was the center of democratic movements of the years 19211924. The democratic opposition won the majority of votes for the Constitutional Assembly, and on May 31, 1924, the democratic forces took over the town and from Shkodër headed to Tirana. From 1924 to 1939, Shkodër had a slow industrial development, small factories that produced food, textile, and cement were opened. From 43 of such in 1924, the number rose to 70 in 1938. In 1924, Shkodër had 20,000 inhabitants, the number grew to 29,000 in 1938.
Shkodër was the seat of a Catholic archbishopric and had a number of religious schools. The first laic school was opened here in 1913, and the State Gymnasium was opened in 1922. It was the center of many cultural associations. In sports Shkodër was the first city in Albania to constitute a sports association, the “Vllaznia” (brotherhood). Vllaznia Shkodër is the oldest sport club in Albania.
During the early 1990s, Shkodër was once again a major center, this time of the democratic movement that finally brought to an end the communist regime established by Enver Hoxha. In the later 2000s (decade), the city experiences a rebirth as main streets are being paved, buildings painted and streets renamed. In December 2010, Shkodër and the surrounding region was hit by probably the worst flooding in the last 100 years. In 2011, a new swing bridge over the Buna River was constructed, thus replacing the old bridge nearby.

 

Lake Koman

Lake Koman
Lake Koman
Location KukësShkodër
Coordinates 42°6′23″N 19°49′37″E
Primary inflows DrinShalaValbona
Primary outflows Drin
Basin countries Albania
Max. length 34 km (21 mi)
Surface area 13 km2 (5.0 sq mi)[1]
Max. depth 34 m (112 ft)[1]
Surface elevation 170 m (560 ft)[1]
Settlements FierzëKoman

Lake Koman  is a reservoir on the Drin River in northern Albania. Lake Koman is surrounded by dense forested hills, vertical slopes, deep gorges, and a narrow valley, completely taken up by the river. Besides the Drin, it is fed by the Shala and Valbona Rivers. The lake stretches in an area of 34 km2 (13 sq mi), its width being 400 m (0.25 mi). The narrowest gorge, which is surrounded by vertical canyon walls, is more than 50 m (0.031 mi) wide. The reservoir was constructed between 1979 and 1988 near the village of Koman with a height of 115 m (377 ft).

The combination of specific topography and hydrological conditions, have contributed to the formation of different habitats. The golden jackalred foxeuropean badgereurasian otterbeech marteneuropean polecat are the primary predatory mammals.A high number of bird species have been observed in the region, including the common kingfishercommon quailgrey heroneurasian wryneckgreat spotted woodpecker and black-headed gull.

The Lake Koman Ferry operates daily on the lake from Koman to Fierza. The ferry connects the city of Bajram Curri to the region of Tropojë. The journey takes about two and a half hours and is also popular with the foreign tourists. Smaller boats bring people and goods to remote villages, which are often far away from the lake, but can only be reached by water.

Valbonë Valley National Park

Valbona Valley National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
The park during the autumn season.
Location within Albania
Location Kukës County
Nearest city Bajram Curri
Coordinates 42°27′12″N 19°53′16″E
Area 8,000 ha (80 km2)
Established 15 January 1996[1]
Governing body Ministry of Environment

The Valbona Valley National Park  is a national park inside the Albanian Alpsin northern Albania. The park covers a total area of 80 km2 (31 sq mi), encompassing Valbona River and its surrounding areas with mountainous terrain, alpine landscapesglacial springs, deep depressions, various rock formationswaterfalls and the Valbona Valley with its dense coniferous and deciduous forest. It is characterized by its very remote areas which have a large preserved ecosystem all of which is primarily untouched with pristine quality. This vast pristine ecosystem is the centrepiece of what has been referred to as the Albanian Miracle of the Alps.

The park borders Montenegro in the north, Gashi Nature Reserve in the east, Nikaj-Mërtur Regional Nature Park in the south and Theth National Park in the west. It is proposed to expand the park’s boundaries and merge it with Theth and Gashi. Furthermore, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro are planning to establish a transboundary national park, that will be called the Balkan Peace Park. The peace park would encompass Valbonë Valley along with Theth National Park, Gashi Nature Reserve, Nikaj-Mërtur Nature Park, Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo and Prokletije National Park in Montenegro.

The Albanian Alps are one of the most impressive and notable topographic features of Albania. Being the southernmost continuation of the Dinaric Alps, it forms a section of the Alpine-Himalayan orogenic belt, which extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Himalaya Mountains. The mountains are characterized by limestone and dolomite rocks and shows major karst features.Maja Jezercë sprawls in the west of the park and is the highest mountain of the Dinaric Alps, with an altitude of 2,694 m (8,839 ft). The Valbona River originate from several karst springs along the south of Maja Jezercë and the east of Valbona Pass. It is the largest river within the Albanian Alps and drains the entire eastern portion of the range.Over the past few million years, glaciers have at times covered most of the park. During the Würm period, the glacier of Valbona reached a total length of 9.5 kilometres.Nowadays, there are two very small active glaciers close to the northeastern edge of Maja Jezercë.

The park’s remoteness and relatively small human population, combined with the great variation of ecosystems and climaticconditions favours the existence of a rich variety of flora and fauna distributed throughout the land area. Most of the park consists of forest, covering 89% of the overall surface area.Brown bearsgrey wolveslynxesroe deerschamoises and wild goats are the primary predatory animals in the park.The park’s forests are characterized by the predominance of different tree species, with beechpine and oak. Notably, the most important tree species used to be the norway spruce; it is one of few regions in Albania where this type can be found.

Valbonë Valley National Park was established in accordance with Decision of Council of Ministers number 102, dated 15 January 1996 in order to preserve the natural ecosystems and landscapes along with their vegetation and biodiversity communities and habitats. An expansion plan to increase the park’s boundaries to cover the Theth National Park and Gashi Nature Reserveis under consideration. With this expansion, the park will become the largest protected area not only in Albania but also in the Balkans.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the park as Category II. Located within the park, the Gashi River is included into the UNESCO Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe. It is also part of the European Green Belt, which serves as a retreat for endangered and endemic species.The park applied also to join the EUROPARC Federation.[21][22] Plantlife has recognised the park, as well as the Albanian Alps, as an Important Plant Area of international importance, because it supports great plant species. The region is part of the Emerald Network, the ecological network made up of Areas of Special Conservation Interest designated under the Bern Convention.

Ohrid

Ohrid
Охрид
Ohrid and Lake Ohrid
Nickname(s):
Balkan Jerusalem
Macedonian Jerusalem
European Jerusalem
Ohrid
Location in North Macedonia
Coordinates: 41°07′01″N 20°48′06″E
Country North Macedonia
Municipality Ohrid Municipality
Government
 • Mayor Konstantin Georgeski(Acting Mayor)
Area
 • Total 383.93 km2 (148.24 sq mi)
Elevation
695 m (2,280 ft)
Population
(2002)
 • Total 42,033
 • Density 142.97/km2 (370.3/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
Postal codes
6000
Area code(s) 389 46
Climate Cfb
Patron saints Saint Clement and Saint Naum
Official name Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region
Type Natural, Cultural
Criteria i, iii, iv, vii
Designated 1979 (3rd session)
Reference no. 99
State party North Macedonia
Region Europe and North America
Extensions 1980, 2019

Ohrid (MacedonianОхрид [ˈɔxrit] (listen)) is a city in North Macedonia, the seat of Ohrid Municipality. It is the largest city on Lake Ohrid and the eighth-largest city in the country, with over 42,000 inhabitants as of 2002. Ohrid once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year, and has been referred to as a “Jerusalem of the Balkans”. The city is rich in picturesque houses and monuments, and tourism is predominant. It is located southwest of Skopje, west of Resen and Bitola. In 1979 and in 1980 respectively, Ohrid and Lake Ohrid were accepted as Cultural and Natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Ohrid is one of only 28 sites that are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage that are Cultural as well as Natural sites.

Ohrid by night. The ancient name of the city was Lychnidos, which probably means “city of light”

In antiquity the city was known under the ancient Greek name of Λυχνίς (Lychnis) and Λυχνιδός (Lychnidos) and the Latin Lychnidus, probably meaning “city of light”, literally “a precious stone that emits light”, from λύχνος (lychnos), “lamp, portable light”.Polybius, writing in the second century BC, refers to the town as Λυχνίδιον – Lichnidion. It became capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in the early medieval period, and was often referred to by Byzantine writers as Achrida (Ἄχριδα, Ὄχριδα, or Ἄχρις). By 879 AD, the town was no longer called Lychnidos but was referred to as Ohrid. In Macedonian language and the other South Slavic languages, the name of the city is Ohrid (Охрид). In Albanian, the city is known as Ohër or Ohri and in modern Greek Ochrida (Οχρίδα, Ωχρίδα) and Achrida (Αχρίδα).

t

Ancient age

Distribution of cities in antiquity in the border of southern Illyria with Greeks and Thracians.

The earliest inhabitants of the widest Lake Ohrid region were the Enchele, an Illyrian tribe and the Dassaretae, an ancient Greek tribe based further East in the region of Lynkestis. According to recent excavations this was a town as early as of king Phillip II of Macedon. They conclude that Samuil’s Fortress was built on the place of an earlier fortification, dated to 4th century BC. During the Roman conquests, towards the end of 3rd and the beginning of 2nd century BC, the Dassaretae and the region Dassaretia were mentioned, as well as the ancient Greek city of Lychnidos (Greek: Λυχνιδός). The existence of the ancient Greek city of Lychnidos is linked to the Greek myth of the Phoenician prince Cadmus who, banished from Thebes, in Boeotia, fled to the Enchele  and founded the town of Lychnidos on the shores of the modern Lake Ohrid.The Lake of Ohrid, the ancient Greek Lacus Lychnitis (Greek: Λυχνίτις), whose blue and exceedingly transparent waters in antiquity gave to the lake its Greek name; it was still called so occasionally in the Middle Ages. It was located along the Via Egnatia, which connected the Adriatic port Dyrrachion (present-day Durrës) with Byzantium. Archaeological excavations (e.g., the Polyconch Basilica from 5th century) prove early adoption of Christianity in the area. Bishops from Lychnidos participated in multiple ecumenicalcouncils.

Middle Ages

Floor mosaic in the PolyconchBasilica.

The Annunciation from Ohrid, one of the most admired icons of the Paleologan Mannerism from the Church of St. Climent.

The South Slavs began to arrive in the area during the 6th century AD. By the early 7th century it was colonized by a Slavic tribe known as the Berziti. Bulgaria conquered the city around 840.[21] The name Ohrid first appeared in 879. The Ohrid Literary Schoolestablished in 886 by Clement of Ohrid became one of the two major cultural centres of the First Bulgarian Empire. Between 990 and 1015, Ohrid was the capital and stronghold of the Bulgarian Empire. From 990 to 1018 Ohrid was also the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate.After the Byzantine reconquest of the city in 1018 by Basil II, the Bulgarian Patriarchate was downgraded to an Archbishopric of Ohrid, and placed under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

The higher clergy after 1018 was almost invariably Greek, including during the period of Ottoman domination, until the abolition of the archbishopric in 1767. At the beginning of the 16th century the archbishopric reached its peak subordinating the SofiaVidinVlach and Moldavian eparchies, part of the former medieval Serbian Patriarchate of Peć, (including Patriarchal Monastery of Peć itself), and even the Orthodox districts of Italy (ApuliaCalabriaand Sicily), Venice and Dalmatia.

As an episcopal city, Ohrid was a cultural center of great importance for the Balkans. Almost all surviving churches were built by the Byzantines and by the Bulgarians, the rest of them date back to the short time of Serbian rule during the late Middle Ages.

Bohemond, leading a Norman army from southern Italy, took the city in 1083. Byzantines regained it in 1085. In the 13th and 14th century the city changed hands between the Despotate of Epirus, the Bulgarian, the Byzantine and the Serbian Empires, as well as local Albanian rulers. In the mid-13th century Ohrid was one of the cities ruled by Pal Gropa, a member of the Albanian noble Gropa family.[25] In 1334 the city was captured by Stefan Uroš IV Dušan and incorporated in the Serbian Empire.[26] After Dusan’s death the city came under the control of Andrea Gropa, while after his death Prince Marko incorporated it in the Kingdom of Prilep.[27] In the early 1370s Marko lost Ohrid to Pal II Gropa, another member of the Gropa family and unsuccessfully tried to recapture it in 1375 with Ottoman assistance.[28] In 1395 the Ottomans under Bayezid I captured the city which became the seat of the newly established Sanjak of Ohrid. In September 14–15, 1464 12,000 troops of the League of Lezhë and 1,000 of the Republic of Venice defeated a 14,000-man Ottoman force near the city. When Mehmed II returned from Albania after his actions against Skanderbeg in 1466 he dethroned Dorotheos, the Archbishop of Ohrid, and expatriated him together with his clerks and boyars and considerable number of citizens of Ohrid to Istanbul, probably because of their anti-Ottoman activities during Skanderbeg‘s rebellion when many citizens of Ohrid, including Dorotheos and his clergy, supported Skanderbeg and his fight.[29][30][31]

Modern

The Christian population declined during the first centuries of Ottoman rule. In 1664 there were only 142 Christian houses. The situation changed in the 18th century when Ohrid emerged as an important trade center on a major trade route. At the end of this century it had around five thousand inhabitants. Towards the end of the 18th century and in the early part of the 19th century, Ohrid region, like other parts of European Turkey, was a hotbed of unrest. In the 19th century the region of Ohrid became part of the Pashalik of Scutari, ruled by the Bushati family.After the Christian population of the bishopric of Ohrid voted on a plebiscite in 1874 overwhelmingly in favour of joining the Bulgarian Exarchate (97%), the Exarchate became in control of the area. In 1889, according to a French research, the city had 2.500-3.000 houses and approximately 12.000 individuals, of which 2/3 were Bulgarians and Vlachsand the rest 1/3 were Albanophone Muslims with 20-25 Slavophone Greek families. In statistics gathered by Vasil Kanchov in 1900, the city of Ohrid was inhabited by 8000 Bulgarians, 5000 Turks, 500 Muslim Albanians, 300 Christian Albanians, 460 Vlachs and 600 Romani. Before 1912, Ohrid was a township center bounded to Monastir sanjak in Manastir Vilayet (present-day Bitola). The city remained under the Ottomans until 29 November 1912, when the Serbian army took control of the city, which was made as the capital of Ohrid district (okrug). In September 1913 local Albanian and pro-Bulgarian Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization leaders rebelled against the Kingdom of Serbia. It was occupied by Kingdom of Bulgaria between 1915 and 1918 during World War I.

World War 1, Postcard, Bulgarian Army in Ochrid Macedonia 1915.

During Kingdom of Yugoslavia Ohrid continued to be as an independent district (Охридског округа) (1918-1922), then it became a part of Bitola Oblast (1920-1929), and then from 1929 to 1941, Ohrid was part of the Vardar Banovina. It was occupied again by Bulgaria between 1941 and 1944 during World War II. Since the days of SFR Yugoslavia Ohrid has been the municipal seat of Municipality of Ohrid (Општина Охрид). Since 1991 the town is part of the Republic of Macedonia.

 

 

 

 

Description

 

 

Itinerary

Day 1: Tirana – Kruja – Shkoder 

Stop At: Kruja Castle, Near Tirana, Kruje 1501 Albania
Our professional tour guide will pick you up at your hotel in Tirana. Right after the group

gets together we start our journey toward northern Albania. On our way to Shkodra we

will visit the historic town of Kruja, its medieval castle and the Scanderbeg National

Museum.
Duration: 3 hours

Stop At: Rozafa Castle, Rozafa, Shkoder Albania
Overnight in Shkodra, where we visit Rozafa castle, and the Venetian style pedestrian

street “pedonale”. Overnight in Shkoder.
Duration: 1 day

Meals included:
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Shkoder.

Day 2: Shkodër – Podgorica (Capital city of Montenegro) – Fishtë 

Stop At: Museum and Gallery of Podgorica, Marka Miljanova 4, Podgorica, Podgorica

Municipality Montenegro
On our way to Montenegro you would be invited by Shkodra’s lake glistening in the

sunshine. Within 1 hour we arrive in Podgorica, capital city of Montenegro, where we

explore the city’s most important attractions.
Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: Mrizi i Zanave Agroturizëm, Rruga “Lezhë – Vau i Dejës”, Fishtë, Lezhë 4505,

Albania
Our next destination is a slow food farm in a rural village in Northern Albania.

Overnight at the agro – tourism.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight at the agro – tourism.

Day 3: Fishtë – Komani Lake – Valbona Valley 

Stop At: Komani Lake, Koman Albania
Komani Lake journey is described as “one of the World’s greatest boat trips”. As we take

the turn from the main road the area becomes more rural, with fewer cars but more

wild nature and amazing landscapes. We will stop for a short break by Vau i Dejes Lake,

a beautiful and tranquil setting. At 09:00 we get on a ferry that will take us through

Komani Lake offering spectacular views of the Albanian Alps, waterfalls, rural villages

and wild forests.
Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: Valbona Valley National Park, Valbona Albania
Our next destination will be Valbona Valley National Park. After a delicious traditional

lunch, we hike to Kukaj, explore the area and admire the so-called Crown of the Albanian

Alps.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Valbona.

Day 4: Valbona Valley – Prizren (Kosovo) 

Stop At: Albanian League of Prizren Museum [Muzeu Lidhja Shqiptare e Prizrenit], Rr.

Sharri, Prizren Kosovo
Our journey continues towards Prizren (Kosovo). This town played an important role in

the region firstly as an Illyrian settlement and as a crossroad for the Byzantine and

Ottoman empires, contributing to the unique architecture of the city. Prizren is

considered as the cultural capital of Kosovo, mixing its’ rich history, incredible nature,

religious tolerance and gastronomic delights. Overnight in Prizren.
Duration: 1 day

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Prizren.

Day 5: Prizren – Tirana (Capital city of Albania) 

Stop At: National History Museum, Sheshi Skënderbej 1, Tirana 1000, Albania
Tirana, the capital of Albania would be our final destination for the fifth day, where we

have full day city tour. Colourful, lively, vibrant, dynamic, 24/7 and crazy nightlife, these

are some of the words that better describe this city where the communist and capitalist-

era buildings battle on daily basis. Tirana offers a great combination of very interesting

museums, historic sites, national parks and mountains, ottoman, Italian and communist

style architecture all clashing between each other, offering however a great pleasure to

wander. Not to be missed is Tirana’s delicious food varieties, from the tasty and cheap

street food to the finest gourmet options. Overnight in Tirana.
Duration: 1 day

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Tirana.

Day 6: Tirana to Ohrid (UNESCO site, Macedonia) 

Stop At: Lake Ohrid, Ohrid Republic of Macedonia
Ohrid (Macedonia) is one of the most seductive destinations in Macedonia, indicated as

one of the oldest human settlements in all Europe. Ohrid city and Ohrid Lake are part of

UNESCO World Heritage since 1980. Ohrid Lake and its surroundings where inhabited by

the Illyrian Tribe of Enkeleys. Ohrid became an important centre for the Orthodox

believers during the Byzantine Empire and is famous for it’s 365 Orthodox churches, said

to have one church for each day of the year. The houses where built with a very specific

architecture that created narrowed streets, tunnels and tiny yards on the hilly terrain,

making it possible for every house to have a good view of the lake. Overnight in Ohrid.
Duration: 1 day

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Ohrid.

Day 7: Ohrid – Korça (Albania) – Drilon

Stop At: Korca Old Bazaar, Rrugica Piro Lena, Korce 7001 Albania
We continue our journey towards Korça in the southeastern region of Albania, one of the

most beautiful and important cities in the country. Because of its beauty, French-style

villas and coffee culture, Korça is also called the ‘little Paris of Albania’. We will take a

city tour of this lovely enchanting town. Not to be missed “Pazari i Vjetër”, the most

charming neighborhood in Korça and an area that looks like it was pulled straight from a

fairy tale; narrow streets, colored buildings, nice cafés and small boutiques can be found

everywhere you look.
Duration: 6 hours

Stop At: Driloni National Park, Rr. Tushemishtit, Pogradec Albania
Late in the afternoon we head to Pogradec. Drilon national park was the favorite place of

dictator Enver Hoxha, who used to come here to relax. Today Drilon is an attractive

summer destination, thanks to its beauty, sandy beaches and delicious cuisine. Overnight

in Drilon.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Drilon.

Day 8: Drilon – Berat (UNESCO site) 

Stop At: Berat Castle, Rruga Mihal Komnena, Berat 5001 Albania
Our next destination is Berat, also known as the 1001 windows city, part of UNESCO

world heritage. Walking through the narrowed stone streets offers a fantastic view of the

medieval old houses, with windows that seem to stand above each other. Berat has it all;

a beautiful medieval castle, ancient churches and mosques, a lively lower town

consisting of grand old houses draped on steep hillsides, an old stone bridge, great

museums and remains from the communism era in Albania. Berat is also known as the

birthplace of Onufri, the famous churches’ painter all-over the Balkans, distinguished for

creating a specific reddish colour still difficult to imitate. Overnight in Berat.
Duration: 1 day

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Berat.

Day 9: Berat – Zvërnec – Vlora 

Stop At: Zvernec Monastery, Zvernec Island, Vlore Albania
On our way to Vlora we visit the Narta Lagoon, the island of Zvërnec and its ancient

Monastery of Saint Mary (XIII century).
Duration: 2 hours

Stop At: Ethnographic Museum, Vlore, Ceno Sharra St, Vlore Albania
Our tour continues towards Vlora where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. Free

afternoon by the seaside. Overnight in Vlora.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Vlora.

Day 10: Vlore – Llogara National Park – Himara

Stop At: Sh8, Llogara National Park Albania
We drive along the coastline known as Albanian Riviera. We will shortly stop at Llogara

National Park offering a spectacular view of the Palasa Beach.
Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Porto Palermo Castle, Himare Albania
Our next stop will be the beautiful castle of Ali Pasha at Porto Palermo. Himara would be

our final destination for this day. Himara town is next to imposing mountain peaks

blanketed in deep green forests, crystal clear seas fringed by long white beaches and

sparkling springs inviting you to dive in. Overnight in Himara.
Duration: 2 hours

Meals included:

• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Himara.

Day 11: Himara – Butrint (UNESCO site) – Saranda

Stop At: Butrint National Park, SH81, Butrint Albania

The ancient site Butrint, is our next destination. Part of the UNESCO world heritage,

Butrinti is the most important archaeological site in Albania.
Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: Lekuresi Castle, Kalaja e Lekuresit, Saranda Albania
In the evening we take a city tour of Saranda, including the synagogue and Lekursi

castle. On the ruins of the old castle there is a bar with a breath taking view of Saranda

and Corfu Island. Overnight in Saranda.
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Saranda.

Day 12: Saranda – Blue Eye – Gjirokaster (UNESCO site) 

Stop At: The Blue Eye – Syri i Kalter, Muzine Albania
On our way to Gjirokastra we will visit the natural wonder of Blue Eye.
Duration: 2 hours

Stop At: Gjirokaster Castle, Gjirokaster Albania
Gjirokastra is also known as “The Stone City”, part of UNESCO World heritage. The origin

of the city starts with the castle of Gjirokastra, built in IV century AD, and is considered

one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the Balkans. Right before entering the castle

of Gjirokastra you would have to pass by the medieval bazar. The atmospheric old town

cascading down in graceful hill crammed full of beautiful narrowed stone decorated

streets, where you would be amazed by the wide variety of hand made crafts from local

artisans and producers. Overnight in Gjirokaster
Duration: 12 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Gjirokaster.

Day 13: Gjirokastër – Permet 

Stop At: Benja Thermal Baths, Near The Stonebridge, Permet Albania
Përmet, our next destination, is the greenest and the cleanest town in Albania, also

known as the “city of roses.” The small town of Permet is famous for its folk music,

literature personalities, and the good cooking, especially sweets, the so called ‘gliko’, or

preserves. The area is also famous for good wine and strong raki. Very near to Përmet is

Bënja, a natural hot thermal spring with a spectacular mountainous view. Overnight in

Përmet.
Duration: 1 day

Meals included:
• Breakfast
• Dinner
Accommodation included: Overnight in Përmet.

Day 14: Permet – Apollonia – Tirana 

Stop At: Apollonia, Fier Albania
After breakfast we head back to Tirana our final destination for this tour. On our way to

Tirana we visit the ruins of the ancient city of Apollonia the Odeon Theatre, the Church

of Saint Mary, the ancient statues of Illyrian times and the mosaic.
This marks the end of this amazing experience through history and adventure.

Duration: 3 hours

Meals included:
• Breakfast
No accommodation included on this day.

 


Important Information:
Details
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM
  • Departure: Choose Balkans – Albania Tour Operator, Rruga Reshit Çollaku, Tirana, AlbaniaTraveler pickup is offered
    The tour departs from Choose Balkans Office. On request (at least 12 hours before tour departure) we can pick you up at 9:00 am from your hotel in Tirana free of charge.

 

Additional Information

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Infant seats available
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Please note that prices are calculated on triple or quadruples room occupancy.
  • The Triple/Quadruple room occupancy means you might share the room with other travelers and/or the tour guide (whom could be males or females).
  • Double or single room occupancy is possible on extra charge.
  • Double room occupancy is possible on 10 Euros extra charge per night per person.
  • Single room occupancy is possible on 20 Euros extra charge per night per person.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 15 travelers

Inclusions

  • 13x Breakfast
  • 13x Dinner
  • Accommodation included: 13 nights
  • HB (Accommodation, Breakfast, Dinner) for 13 overnights
  • Comfortable AC minibus or private car depending on the size of the group
  • Museums’ tickets (mentioned on the tour program)
  • Professional tour guide
  • Airport or hotel pickup and drop off in Tirana
  • Office’s Assistance during the whole trip
  • Tourist City taxes
  • Road Taxes
  • Fuel for the car
  • Entry/Admission – Kruja Castle
  • Entry/Admission – Rozafa Castle
  • Entry/Admission – Museum and Gallery of Podgorica
  • Entry/Admission – Mrizi i Zanave Agroturizëm
  • Entry/Admission – Komani Lake
  • Entry/Admission – Valbona Valley National Park
  • Entry/Admission – Albanian League of Prizren Museum [Muzeu Lidhja Shqiptare e Prizrenit]
  • Entry/Admission – National History Museum
  • Entry/Admission – Lake Ohrid
  • Entry/Admission – Korca Old Bazaar
  • Entry/Admission – Driloni National Park
  • Entry/Admission – Berat Castle
  • Entry/Admission – Zvernec Monastery
  • Entry/Admission – Ethnographic Museum, Vlore
  • Entry/Admission – Llogara National Park
  • Entry/Admission – Porto Palermo Castle
  • Entry/Admission – Butrint National Park
  • Entry/Admission – Lekuresi Castle
  • Entry/Admission – The Blue Eye – Syri i Kalter
  • Entry/Admission – Gjirokaster Castle
  • Entry/Admission – Benja Thermal Baths
  • Entry/Admission – Apollonia

Exclusions

  • Lunch, Drinks & Snacks
  • Souvenirs
  • Personal spending
  • All what is not mentioned in the included
  • * Please note that prices are calculated on triple or quadruples room occupancy.
  • The Triple/Quadruple room occupancy means you might share the room with other
  • travelers and/or the tour guide (whom could be males or females).
  • Double or single room occupancy is possible on extra charge.
  • Double room occupancy is possible on 10 Euros extra charge per night per person.
  • Single room occupancy is possible on 20 Euros extra charge per night per person.
  • * Tips are not a must in Albania or the Balkans, however, our recommendation is to tip
  • the tour guide/driver 5 – 6 Euros per day/person as an international practice to tip good service.

Return Details

  • Returns to original departure point

Terms of Use

Once you have booked and received your travel voucher, the contact details for the

travel service operator will be on this voucher under the heading “Important

Information”. Where applicable, you are required to call the travel service operator

directly to advise of additional information such as:

  • Hotel for pick up

 

  • Weights for helicopter tours

 

  • Choice of times for tours

 

  • Special dietary requirements, meal choices etc.

Event tickets

14 days europe trip

$1,700.00

41.327545919.8186982
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