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Tirana

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Tirana
Tiranë  (Albanian)
City
Skanderbeg square tirana 2016.jpg
Toptani Shopping Mall Tirana 2016.jpg Tirana Kapllan Pasha Tomb.jpg
Tirana Cathedral 2016-2017.jpg Tirana 33.jpg
Kalaja e Petreles 01.jpg City Hall of Tirana.jpg
Tirana Albania pano 2004-07-14.jpg
Clockwise from top: Skanderbeg Square, Toptani Mall, Kapllan Pasha Tomb, Resurrection Cathedral, "Post Block" memorial, Petrelë Castle, City Hall and Tirana seen from Mount Dajt.
Flag of Tirana.svg
Flag
Stema e Bashkisë Tiranë.svg
Seal
Tirana is located in Albania
Tirana
Tirana
Coordinates: 41°19′44″N 19°49′04″E / 41.32889°N 19.81778°E / 41.32889; 19.81778Coordinates: 41°19′44″N 19°49′04″E / 41.32889°N 19.81778°E / 41.32889; 19.81778
Country Albania Albania
County Tirana
Established 1614
Government
 • Mayor Erion Veliaj[2] (SP)
Area
 • Municipality 1,110.03 km2 (428.58 sq mi)
 • Administrative Unit 41.8 km2 (16.1 sq mi)
Elevation 110 m (360 ft)
Population
 • Total 811,649[1]
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal Code 1001–1028, 1031
Area Code (0)4
Website Official Website

Tirana Listeni/tˈrɑːnə/ (Albanian: Tiranë; regional Gheg Albanian: Tirona) is the capital and largest city of Albania as well as heart of Albania's cultural, economic and governmental activity. It is located on the western center of the country surrounded by hills with the Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance. The city is located some 700 kilometres (430 miles) north of Athens, 290 km (180 mi) west of Skopje, 250 km (160 mi) south-east of Pristina and 160 km (99 mi) south of Podgorica.

Tirana was founded as a city in 1614, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Evidence of human settlement dates back to the Paleolithic period, between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago, the oldest settlement in the area was the Cave of Pellumbas, in today's village of Pellumbas. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with ancient Illyrian toponyms as its precincts are some of the earliest regions in Albania to be inhabited. One of the ancient monuments, the Tirana Mosaic is believed to have been part of a 3rd-century Ancient Roman house. Later, in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Paleo-Christian Basilica was built around this site. Tirana did not attain much significance until the early 20th century, when the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed it Albania's capital following the country's declaration of independence in 1912.

The heritage of the classical period can be found in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Tirana Mosaic. Tirana also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a number of Ottoman monuments.

Tirana is one of largest cities in the Balkans, ranking 7th, with a population of 800,000, it is also the largest Albanian-speaking city in the world.[3] The Tirana municipality has a total population of 800,986,[4] the Tirana metropolitan area is the largest in Albania and the only one with a population of over 800,000. The city is ranked among the ten sunniest cities in Europe, with 2,544 hours of sun per year.[5]

Being Albania's primate city, Tirana is considered the heart of Albania because of its central location and its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, service, research and healthcare. Almost all of the country's largest companies, media and scientific institutions have their headquarters in the city. Tirana is also the seat of power of the Government of Albania, the residences for work of the President and the Prime Minister of Albania.

History

Antiquity

Ancient mosaics, that was part of a Roman villa in the 3rd century.

The area occupied by Tirana has been populated since the Paleolithic era,[6] dating back 10,000 to 30,000 years ago, as suggested by evidence from tools excavated near Mount Dajt's quarry and in Pellumba Cave. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with Illyrian toponyms, as its precincts are some of the earliest inhabited regions in Albania.[7]

The oldest discovery in downtown Tirana was a Roman house, later transformed into an aisleless church with a mosaic-floor, dating to the 3rd century A.D., with other remains found near a medieval temple at Shengjin Fountain in the eastern suburbs. A castle possibly called Tirkan or Theranda, whose remnants are found along Murat Toptani Street, was built by Emperor Justinian in 520 A.D. and restored by Ahmed Pasha Toptani in the 18th century.[7] The area had no special importance in Illyrian and classical times.

The Castle of Petrelë was built in the 6th century AD and was built by Justinian I.

In 1510, Marin Barleti, an Albanian Catholic priest and scholar, in the biography of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis (The story of life and deeds of Skanderbeg, the prince of Epirotes), referred to this area as a small village.[8]

Middle Ages

Records from the first land registrations under the Ottomans in 1431–32 show that Tirana consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 2,028 houses and 7,300 inhabitants.[citation needed] Tirana is mentioned since 1572 as Borgo di Tirana.[9]

In 1614, Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler, built the Old mosque, a small commercial centre, and a hammam (Turkish bath). During this period, the Et'hem Bey Mosque, built by Molla Bey of Petrela, was constructed. It employed the best artisans in the country and was completed in 1821 by Molla's son Etëhem, who was also Sulejman Bargjini's grandnephew; in 1800, the first newcomers arrived in the settlement, the so-called ortodoksit. They were Vlachs from villages near Korçë and Pogradec, who settled around modern day Park on the Artificial Lake.[10] They started to be known as the llacifac and were the first Christians to arrive after the creation of the town, after Serb reprisals in the Debar region, thousands of locals fled to Tirana. In 1807, Tirana became the center of the Sub-Prefecture of Krujë-Tirana.[citation needed] After 1816, Tirana languished under the control of the Toptani family of Krujë.[citation needed] Later, Tirana became a Sub-Prefecture of the newly created Vilayet of Shkodër and Sanjak of Durrës.

Modern

The Bazaar at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1889, the Albanian language started to be taught in Tirana's schools, while the patriotic club Bashkimi was founded in 1908, on 28 November 1912, the national flag was raised in agreement with Ismail Qemali. During the Balkan Wars, the town was temporarily occupied by the Serbian army and it took part in uprising of the villages led by Haxhi Qamili; in 1917, the first city outline was compiled by Austro-Hungarian architects.[citation needed]

On 8 February 1920, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the temporary capital of Albania, which had gained independence in 1912,[11] the city retained that status permanently on 31 December 1925. In 1923, the first regulatory city plan was compiled by Austrian architects,[12] the centre of Tirana was the project of Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy. Brasini laid the basis for the modern-day arrangement of the ministerial buildings in the city centre, the plan underwent revisions by Albanian architect Eshref Frashëri, Italian architect Castellani and Austrian architects Weiss and Kohler.[citation needed] Modern Albanian parliamentary building served as a club of officers, it was there that, in September 1928, Zog of Albania was crowned King Zog I, King of the Albanians. Tirana served as the venue for the signing, between Fascist Italy and Albania, of the Pact of Tirana.

Communism

Tirana in 1991.

In 1939, Tirana was captured by Fascist forces appointing a puppet government; in the meantime, Italian architect Gherardo Bosio was asked to elaborate on previous plans and introduce a new project in the area of present-day Mother Teresa Square.[13] A failed assassination attempt was made on Victor Emmanuel III of Italy by a local resistance activist during a visit in Tirana; in November 1941, two emissaries of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ), Miladin Popović and Dušan Mugoša, managed to call a meeting of three Albanian communist groups[citation needed] and founded the Communist Party of Albania, of which Enver Hoxha would shortly emerge as the leader. The town soon became the center of the Albanian communists, who mobilized locals against Italian fascists and later Nazi Germans, while spreading ideological propaganda, on 17 November 1944, the town was liberated after a fierce battle between the Communists and German forces.[citation needed] The Nazis eventually withdrew and the communists seized power.

In 1988, the first outsiders were allowed to walk into the Skanderbeg Square.

From 1944 to 1991, the city experienced ordered development with a decline in architectural quality.[citation needed] Massive socialist-styled apartment complexes and factories began to be built, while Skanderbeg Square was redesigned with a number of buildings being demolished, for instance, Tirana's former Old Bazaar and the Orthodox Cathedral were razed to the ground for the erection of the Soviet-styled Palace of Culture.

The northern portion of the main boulevard was renamed Stalin Boulevard and his statue was erected in the city square, because private car ownership was banned, mass transportation consisted mainly of bicycles, trucks and buses. After Hoxha's death, a pyramidal museum was constructed in his memory by the government.[citation needed]

Prior to and after the proclamation of Albania's policy of self-imposed isolationism, a number of high-profile figures paid visits to the city, such as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and East German Foreign Minister Oskar Fischer. In 1985, Tirana served as the ceremonial venue of Enver Hoxha's funeral.[citation needed] A few years later, Mother Teresa became the first religious figure[citation needed] to visit the country following Albania's long declared anti-religious atheist stance. She paid respect to her mother and sister resting at a local cemetery. Starting at the campus and ending at Skanderbeg Square with the toppling of Enver Hoxha's statue, the city saw significant demonstrations by University of Tirana students, demanding political freedoms in the early 1990s.

Transition

The Mustafa Matohiti Street is known as Rruga e Salës among the locals, named after former Prime Minister Sali Berisha.[14]
Blloku district. After the fall of communism in Albania, a dramatic growth of new developments has taken place, with many new exclusive flats and apartments.

On the political aspect, the city witnessed a number of events. Personalities visited the capital, such as former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Pope John Paul II, the former visit came amidst the historical setting after the fall of communism, as hundreds of thousands were chanting in Skanderbeg Square Baker's famous saying of "Freedom works!".[citation needed] Pope John Paul II became the first major religious leader to visit Tirana, though Mother Teresa had visited few years prior.

During the Balkans turmoil in the mid-1990s, the city experienced dramatic events such as the unfolding of the 1997 unrest in Albania and a failed coup d'état on 14 September 1998; in 1999, following the Kosovo War, Tirana Airport became a NATO airbase, serving its mission in the former Yugoslavia.

Starting in 2000, former Tirana mayor Edi Rama (mayor from 2000 to 2011) under the Ilir Meta government, undertook a campaign to demolish illegal buildings around the city centre and along the Lana River banks to bring the area to its pre-1990 state; in an attempt to widen roads, Rama authorized the bulldozing of private properties so that they could be paved over, thus widening streets. Most main roads underwent reconstruction, such the Ring Road (Unaza), Kavaja Street and the main boulevard.

The Twin Towers in the Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard.

He has been accused of corruption and mismanagement of funds by the opposition, including corruption in the granting of building permits.[citation needed] Rama led the initiative to paint the façades of Tirana's buildings in bright colours (known as Edi Rama colours – very bright pink, yellow, green, violet) although much of their interiors continued to degrade. Rama's critics claimed that he focused too much attention on cosmetic changes without fixing any of the major problems such as shortages of drinking water and electricity.[15][16] A richer calendar of events was introduced and a Municipal Police force established.

Since 2005 the southeast region of Tirana, mainly Farke and Petrela has had a burst becoming the preferred destination with many residence complexes being built and having the current biggest mall in Albania, the Tirana East Gate (TEG);[17][18] in 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush marked the first time that such a high ranking American official visited Tirana.[19] A central Tirana street was named in his honor.

In 2008, the Gërdec explosions were felt in the capital as windows were shattered and citizens shaken, on 21 January 2011, Albanian police clashed with opposition supporters in front of the Government building as cars were set on fire, three persons killed and 150 wounded.[20]

Present-day

In the 2015 municipality election, power was transferred from the Democratic Party representative Lulzim Basha, to the Socialist Party candidate Erion Veliaj.[21] The country underwent a territorial reform, which unified communes with municipalities leaving 61 of them.[22] Thirteen of Tirana's communes were integrated as administrative units joining the existing eleven,[23] since then, Tirana is undergoing major changes in law enforcement and new projects as well as continuing the ones started by his predecessor. In their first few council meeting 242 social houses got allocated to needing families.[24] Construction permits were suspended until the capital's development plan is revised and synthesized;[23] in addition the municipality will audit all permits granted in the previous years.

The architect Stefano Boeri was contracted to work on the General Urban Plan of Tirana (TR030), which makes a series of interventions to the city's infrastructure. The plan was submitted for approval to the Municipality Council in November 2016.[25]

Geography

Topography

Tirana as seen from above and overlooking Mount Dajt in the background.
A Satellite imagery illustrating the Tirana Metropolitan Area.

Tirana is located in the central part of Albania, about 32 kilometers (20 mi) inland. Its average altitude is 110 meters (360 ft) above sea level and its highest point measures 1,828 metres (5,997 feet) at Mali me Gropa. The city is mostly surrounded by hills, with Dajti Mountain on the east and a slight valley opening on the north-west overlooking the Adriatic Sea in the distance.

By road the city is 700 kilometres (430 miles) north of Athens, 290 km (180 mi) west of Skopje, 250 km (160 mi) south-east of Pristina and 160 km (99 mi) south of Podgorica.

The Tiranë river runs through the city, as does the Lanë stream. Tirana has four artificial lakes, the Tirana Artificial Lake around which was built the Grand Park, Paskuqani Lake, Farka Lake, Tufina Lake and other smaller lakes or reservoirs, the present municipality was formed at the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities Baldushk, Bërzhitë, Dajt, Farkë, Kashar, Krrabë, Ndroq, Petrelë, Pezë, Shëngjergj, Tirana, Vaqarr, Zall-Bastar and Zall-Herr, that became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the city Tirana.[26]

Tirana is surrounded by the Dajti Mountains on the east also on the southern and the western part of the city, the Dajti Mountain's highest peak is at 1,613 metres (5,292 feet). In winter, the mountain is often covered with snow and is a popular retreat to the local population of Tirana that rarely sees snow falls, its slopes have forests of pines, oak and beech, while its interior contains canyons, waterfalls, caves, a lake, and an ancient castle. The park has a surface area of 29,384 hectares, is highly frequented by day and considered the Natural Balcony of Tirana, the mountain can be reached through a narrow asphalted mountain road onto an area known as Fusha e Dajtit. From this small area there is an excellent view of Tirana and its plain, this is the reason this place has been named as the Balcony of Tirana.

Climate

Under the Köppen climate classification, Tirana has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), and receives just enough summer precipitation to avoid Köppen's (Csa) Mediterranean climate classification, since every summer month has more than 40 millimetres (1.6 in) of rainfall,[27] with hot and moderately dry/humid summers and cool and wet winters. Some snow falls almost every winter, but it usually melts quickly, the city is ranked in the Top 10 of the sunniest cities in Europe with a total of 2544 hours of sun.[5]

Tirana lies on the boundary between Zone 7 and Zone 9 in terms of the hardiness zone.[28]

Climate data for Tirana (1961–1990, extremes 1940–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 21.2
(70.2)
28.0
(82.4)
30.3
(86.5)
32.6
(90.7)
35.9
(96.6)
39.6
(103.3)
42.2
(108)
41.4
(106.5)
39.7
(103.5)
36.1
(97)
26.1
(79)
22.5
(72.5)
42.2
(108)
Average high °C (°F) 11.6
(52.9)
12.9
(55.2)
15.6
(60.1)
19.0
(66.2)
23.8
(74.8)
27.7
(81.9)
30.7
(87.3)
30.7
(87.3)
27.3
(81.1)
21.8
(71.2)
17.1
(62.8)
13.0
(55.4)
21.0
(69.8)
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.7
(44.1)
7.8
(46)
10.0
(50)
13.4
(56.1)
18.0
(64.4)
21.6
(70.9)
24.0
(75.2)
23.8
(74.8)
20.7
(69.3)
16.0
(60.8)
11.7
(53.1)
8.1
(46.6)
15.2
(59.4)
Average low °C (°F) 1.8
(35.2)
2.6
(36.7)
4.5
(40.1)
7.9
(46.2)
12.1
(53.8)
15.6
(60.1)
17.2
(63)
16.9
(62.4)
14.1
(57.4)
10.1
(50.2)
6.3
(43.3)
3.2
(37.8)
9.4
(48.9)
Record low °C (°F) −9.9
(14.2)
−9.4
(15.1)
−6.0
(21.2)
−1.0
(30.2)
3.4
(38.1)
6.2
(43.2)
4.2
(39.6)
10.6
(51.1)
5.5
(41.9)
−0.4
(31.3)
−4.3
(24.3)
−6.6
(20.1)
−9.9
(14.2)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 143
(5.63)
132
(5.2)
115
(4.53)
104
(4.09)
103
(4.06)
68
(2.68)
42
(1.65)
46
(1.81)
78
(3.07)
114
(4.49)
172
(6.77)
148
(5.83)
1,266
(49.84)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 13 13 14 13 12 7 5 4 6 9 16 16 128
Average relative humidity (%) 74 73 69 72 68 69 62 64 71 70 76 79 71
Mean monthly sunshine hours 124 125 165 191 263 298 354 327 264 218 127 88 2,544
Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst[29][30][note 1]
Source #2: Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)[31]

Environment

The Artificial Lake was built from local waters in 1955.

In September 2015, Tirana organized its first vehicle-free day, joining forces with numerous cities across the globe to fight against the existing problem of urban air pollution, this initiative resulted in a considerable drop in both air and noise pollution, encouraging the Municipality to organize a vehicle-free day every month. According to a 2016 report published by the National Environmental Agency, air pollution in Tirana dropped by 15%, compared to the previous year.[citation needed]

The city suffers from problems related to overpopulation,[32] such as waste management, high levels of air pollution and significant noise pollution. Over the last decades, air pollution has become a pressing concern as the number of cars has increased, these are mostly 1990s and early 2000s diesel cars,[33] while it is widely believed that the fuel used in Albania contains larger amounts of sulfur and lead than in the European Union. Another source of pollution are PM10 and PM2.5 inhaled particulate matter and NO2 gases[34][35] resulting from rapid growth in the construction of new buildings and expanding road infrastructure.[36]

Untreated solid waste is present in the city and outskirts. Additionally, there have been complaints of excessive noise pollution, despite the problems, the Grand Park at the Artificial Lake has some effect on absorbing CO2 emissions, while over 2.000 trees have been planted around sidewalks. The work of four new parks has started in the summer of 2015 located Kashar, Farkë, Vaqarr, and Dajt, these parks are part of the new urban plan striving to increase the concentration of green spaces in the capital.[37]

Politics

Capital

The Prime Minister's Office (Kryeministria), the workplace of the Prime Minister.

Tirana has been proclaimed as the capital of Albania eight years after the independence of the first Republic in 1912, the Congress of Lushnjë proclaimed Tirana as the capital of the nation in 1912. The first regulatory city plan was compiled in 1923 by Austro-Hungarian architects. Afterwards, the city center of Tirana was designed by Italian architects such as Florestano Di Fausto, Gherardo Bosio and Armando Brasini. However, Tirana continued with its status as the political and cultural centre of the country, being home to all the national institutions that includes the Government, the Parliament, the Ministries, the Presidential Palace, the judicial bodies and other political institutions.

Being the capital of Albania, Tirana is the seat of the Government of Albania, the two chief officers have their official residences and offices in the city. The President of Albania, resides at the Presidential Palace, while his office is the Presidential Office, the workplace of the Prime Minister of Albania, is the Prime Minister's Office. The nation's highest courts are based in Tirana such as the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal and the Administrative Court. Tirana is also home to more than 45 embassies and representative bodies as an international political actor.[38]

Administration

Current composition of the 55 seats in the General Assembly
  Socialist Party 25 seats (41%)
  Democratic Party 17 seats (28%)
  LSI 13 seats (21%)
  PDIU 3 seats (5%)
  Others 3 seats (5%)

The Assembly of Tirana (Këshilli Bashkiak e Tiranës) consists of 55 members, who serve a four-year term, it primarily deals with budget, global orientations and relations between Tirana and the Government of Albania. It has 14 committees and its current Chairman is Aldrin Dalipi from the Socialist Party, each of the members have a specific portfolio such as economy, finance, juridical, education, health care, and several professional services, agencies and institutes. Following the 2015 Tirana local elections, the City Council[39] is constituted as follows: (See the table)

The Municipality of Tirana is divided into 24 administrative units referred to as Njësi Bashkiake or Administrative. These have their own appointed mayor and council, and sometimes known as Mini-Bashki.[40]

In 2000, the centre of Tirana from the central campus of University of Tirana in the Mother Teresa Square up to the Skanderbeg Square, was declared the place of Cultural Assembly, and given state protection. The historical core of the capital lies around pedestrian only Murat Toptani Street, while the most prominent city district is Blloku, this neighborhood is the most popular part under the youth of Tirana. It is located in the southern side of Tirana and borders Kombinat and the center of the city, until recently the city lacked a proper address system. In 2010, the municipality undertook the installing of street name signs and entrance numbers while every apartment entrance was physically stamped.[41]

Minibashkitë in Tirana.svg
Number Albanian Official Population[42] Chief[43]
1 Njësia Numër 1 Tirana 1 51,007 Trendelina Jaku
2 Njësia Numër 2 Tirana 2 72,801 Elez Gjoza
3 Njësia Numër 3 Tirana 3 43,100 Ergesta Nika
4 Njësia Numër 4 Tirana 4 66,795 Liri Qoshi
5 Njësia Numër 5 Tirana 5 74,936 Violeta Kika
6 Njësia Numër 6 Tirana 6 60,384 Adriatik Merko
7 Njësia Numër 7 Tirana 7 61,362 Gjinovefa Kadria
8 Njësia Numër 8 Tirana 8 37,931 Erjon Xhafa
9 Njësia Numër 9 Tirana 9 51,599 Adelina Albrahimi
10 Njësia Numër 10 Tirana 10 26,457 Arjan Hamiti
11 Njësia Numër 11 Tirana 11 61,095 Gentian Arapi

Demographics

The expansion of the city of Tirana from 1990 to 2005.
Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1703 4,000 —    
1820 12,000 +0.94%
1923 10,845 −0.10%
1937 35,000 +8.73%
1955 108,200 +6.47%
1985 200,000 +2.07%
2001 597,899 +7.08%
2011 749,365 +2.28%
2017 862,361 +2.37%
Source: [44][45][46][47] [a]

Tirana is the most populous city in Albania and one of the largest in the Balkan peninsula, it is also Albanias only metropolitan area with a population of over 800.000. The city is home to many ethnicities from all over the Balkans. About 630.203 (84.10%) of the population are Albanians, 2.596 (0.35%) Greeks, 856 (0.11%) Aromanians 513 (0.07%) Macedonians, 198 (0.03%) Italians. 1.042 (0.14%) did not declare their ethnicity. At the 2011 census, the urban areas of the city include 526.017 people. The rural areas of Tirana County, which are known as the suburbs of Tirana, include 223.348 people. Altogether, the figure for the whole county is counted as 749.365 people. The number of women slightly exceeds the number of men in the county, with 370.587 men, and 378.778 women.[48]

Tirana was mentioned for the first time between 1372 and 1418 in Venetian documents, during that time, it was known as a smal village consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 1000 houses and 7300 inhabitants. Marin Barleti (an Albanian historian and priest from Shkodra), distinguished Great and Small Tirana. In 1583, the town had 110 inhabited areas with 2900 houses and 20,000 inhabitants.[49] When Sulejman Pasha established the city in 1614, the first constructions in the area were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam. Two centuries later, the control of the city was won by the noble Toptani family of Krujë and had only 4000 inhabitants, it was noted that the two oldest neighbourhoods were Mujos and Pazari, between the Skanderbeg Square and Elbasani Street, on either side of the Lana River. In 1820 the population Tirana was around 12.000 inhabitants.[49] After the Fall of communism in Albania in 1990, the city had about 250.000 inhabitants, and since then a large scale influx from other parts of the country has increased the population to over 700.000

The 18th century Ethem Bey Mosque located in the city center. (left) The Resurrection Cathedral of Tirana is the third largest orthodox cathedral in Europe.(right)

Muslims (including the large Bektashi minority in Albania) make up about 65% of Tirana's population. About 11% of the population identify as some denomination of Christians, 3% are Atheists and 4% identify themselves as believers without denomination. An interesting fact in the religious make up of Tirana, is the 15% (113.000 people) who preferred not to answer the survey question.[48] This hesitance to not answer may come from the era of the Communism in Albania under dictator Enver Hoxha, where he famously proclaimed: The only religion for an Albanian is Albanianism, declared Albania as an atheist state and attempted to remove all organized religion from the country.[50][51] The Roman Catholic Church is represented in Tirana by the Archdiocese of Tiranë and Durrës, with the St Paul's Cathedral the current seat of the prelacy. The Albanian Orthodox community is served by the Archbishop of Tirana in the Resurrection Cathedral.

The healthcare system in Albania is mainly public, the private healthcare sector in Albania is still developing,[52] and it covers most of the pharmaceutical and dental services mainly being situated in Tirana. The largest hospital in Tirana is Mother Teresa Hospital, which is associated with University of Tirana, Faculty of Medicine. A number of private hospitals have been opened.

Economy

Toptani Shopping Center, designed by Dutch architect Winy Maas located in the city center. (left) Tirana East Gate, the largest mall in the country. (right)

The economy of Tirana is dominated by the service sector with around 68.5 %, the industrial sector by 26.1% and argiculture sector with 5.4 %.[53] The city began to develop at the beginning of the 16th century, when a bazaar was established, and its craftsmen manufactured silk and cotton fabrics, leather, ceramics and iron, silver, and gold artefacts.[54]

Today, Tirana and Durrës forms the financial and business heart of country. However, important economic sectors in Tirana include transportation, information and communication technologies, media, advertising and design, environmental services, construction, e-commerce, banking, legal services, retail, hotel business, and medical engineering. Tirana is home not only to almost all national institutions and government agencies, but also to many domestic and international companies such as the mineral AlbChrome[55]), the petroleum Taçi Oil, the technology Albtelecom, Vodafone, Telekom Albania, the banking Central Bank, Raiffeisen Albania, Banka Kombetare Tregtare, American Bank of Albania, Credins Bank, Tirana Bank, electronic Neptun and many other companies. The ABA Business Center, TID tower and the 4 Ever Green Tower, were being constructed in the city. Tirana has malls, such as Citypark, QTU, Toptani and Tirana East Gate. Stocks are traded at the Tirana Stock Exchange. Furthermore, the Tirana Logistic Park and Tirana Business Park are currently under construction.

According to the World Bank, Tirana has made significant steps of starting a business in 2016. Tirana ranks 10 among 22 cities in Southeastern Europe[56] before Belgrade, Serbia and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Transport

The airport is the 8th busiest airport in the Balkans that handles over 2 million passengers per year.

Aviation

Tirana is served by Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza named after the Albanian Roman Catholic nun and missionary Mother Teresa. It is the only port of entry for air travelers to the country, the airport is located in the village of Rinas 6 nautical miles (11 kilometres; 6.9 miles) northwest of the city centre of Tirana.[57]

Roads and railways

The Tirana-Elbasan Highway is currently under construction and is part of the planned A3 motorway of Albania.

The city serves as the meeting point for national roads SH1, SH2 and SH3. Construction of the outer big ring highway started in 2011.[citation needed] National Road 1 (SH1) leads to the Albanian – Montenegrin border at Hani i Hotit border crossing. From Tirana at the Kamza Overpass (Mbikalimi i Kamzës) northward, it passes through Fushë-Kruja, Milot, Lezha, Shkodra, and Koplik. Between Thumane and Milot, the SH1 has become part of the Albania – Kosovo Highway connecting the capital Tirana with Kosovo. SH1 forms part of the Albanian North-South Corridor connecting Hani i Hotit border with Kakavijë in the Albanian – Greek border thus forming part of the Adriatic-Ionian motorway.

The SH2 national road in linking Tirana with the port city of Durrës. The road was the first highway to be reconstructed in Albania following the end of communism in 1991.

National Road 2 (SH2) is a dual carriageway in Albania linking the port city of Durrës with Tirana. SH2 begins at the Port of Durrës in Durrës at the Dajlani Overpass, bypasses Shijak, intersects with SH52 in Vora, bypasses the road to Tirana International Airport, and ends at the Kamza Overpass in the outskirts of Tirana where it meets National Road 1 State Road heading to northern Albania.

The Albanian Motorway A3 it is planned to run along the central corridor of Albania from Tirana to southern Albania, whose first part is the Tirana–Elbasan Highway connecting Tirana with the Pan-European Transport Corridor VIII. The section from Tirana to Elbasan, will be an alternative to the old curvy road SH3 along Krraba Pass, the new highway bypasses the heavy traffic via Durrës-Rrogozhina. In addition, the new track about 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) shorter than the path to the SH3, resulting in drastically reduced distance with much higher speed between Tirana and Elbasan. Economically, after completion it will be an important link between the Albanian capital and Greece.

In recent years, in anticipation of the construction of the new Multi-Modal Terminal near the Kamza Overpass at the entrance of Tirana, the Municipality of Tirana has opened several temporary bus terminals mainly along Dritan Hoxha St and Student City to regulate the chaos of public transport between towns in Tirana, these terminals serve Southern and Southern Albania including Durres, and Kosovo and International bound coaches.

There are passenger services to Durrës and Librazhd, via Elbasan, as of September 2013, the Tirana Railway Station north of the Skanderbeg Square was dismantled and moved to Kashar, the latter renovated in May 2015.[citation needed] The existing line was replaced with a bus service located alongside the coach terminal at the north end of Zogu I Boulevard, the line extending from Librazhd to Pogradec to the south-east was discontinued in 2012. There are no international passenger services, although there is a freight-only railway through Shkodër to Montenegro; in the north-western district of Tirana, Laprakë a new station will be built, which is planned as a multi-functional terminal for railway, tram and bus. Until its opening, the railway transport between Tirana and Kashar remains closed,[58] the new railway line from Tirana via Rinas (Tirana International Airport) to the port city of Durrës, is currently planned to be built. The location of this railway, as the most populated urban areas in Albania, makes it an important economic development project,[59] the opening will take place in 2019.[60]

Ferries and others

Ecovolis Bicycle sharing scheme near the city center.

The city of Tirana is served by the Port of Durrës, one of the largest passenger port in the Adriatic Sea, 36 km (22 mi) distant from the city. Passenger ferries from Durrës sail to Dubrovnik, Zadar (Croatia), Corfu (Greece), Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Genoa, Otranto, Trieste (Italy), Bar (Montenegro), Koper (Slovenia) and other cities in the region. Local transport within Tirana is by bus or taxi. Official taxis have yellow plates with red text and usually use taximeter. Coach and minibus (furgon) services also run to the coast and northern and southern Albania from Tirana. International coach services connect to Greece, via Korçë or Kakavije, to Kosovo[note 2] via the new Durrës-Morine highway, and to the Republic of Macedonia via Struga.

Public Transport in Tirana

The Ecovolis bicycle sharing system was launched in 2011.[61] Bicycles are rented from initially four stations located at Rinia Park and along Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard. A full day ride costs 100 leks. Bike only lanes are located alongside existing sidewalks on Skanderbeg Square, Lana River and Kavaja Street, while combined bus and bike lanes are located on other main streets to alleviate overall congestion.

In 2012, Tirana municipality published a report according to which a project on the construction of two tram lines was under evaluation, the tram lines would have a total length of 16.7 kilometres (10.4 miles). The public transport in Tirana is, for now, focused only in the city centre, so that the people living in the suburbs have fewer or no public transport connections, the municipality believes that pedestrian areas in the city centre will also be created with the construction of the tram lines. Under the plan, the two tram lines will intersect in the Skanderbeg Square, the current public transport system in Tirana is made of ten bus lines served by 250 to 260 buses every day. The development of the tram network will provide an easier access to the city centre and beyond to necessary facilities, such as leisure areas or jobs without using personal vehicles.[62]

Cityscape

Panoramic view from the top of the Pyramid of Tirana.

Architecture

Tirana is home to different architectural styles that represent influential periods in its history dating back to the antiquity, the architecture of Tirana as the capital of the country, was marked by two totalitarian regimes, by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini during the World War II and the communist regime. Both have left their mark on the city with their typically architecture.

Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well-known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy, designed the city plan for Tirana, in Neo-Renaissance style with articulate angular solutions and giant order fascias.

In addition to the objects of the architecture of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, Tirana offers a couple of other such objects of both periods, the Palace of Brigades (former Palace of the Albania's King Zog I), the ministries buildings, the government building and the municipality hall are designed by Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, both well-known architects of the Mussolini period in Italy. The Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard was built in 1930 and given the name King Zog I Boulevard; in the communist period, the part from Skanderbeg Square up to the train station was named Stalin Boulevard. The Royal Palace or Palace of Brigades previously served as the official residence of King Zog I, it has been used by different Albanian governments for various purposes. Because of the outbreak of World War II, and the 1939 Italian invasion of Albania, King Zog I fled Albania and never had a chance to see the Palace fully constructed, the Italians finished it and used it as the Army Headquarters. The Palace took its nickname Palace of Brigades because it was taken from the Italians by a people army brigade.[63]

In the 21th century, Tirana turned into a proper modernist city, with large blocks of flats, modern new buildings, new shopping centres and many green spaces; in June 2016, the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and the Italian architect Stefano Boeri announced the start of the works for the redaction of the Master Plan Tirana 2030.[citation needed]

Parks

The entrance of the Grand Park of Tirana. (left) The Taivani situated on the Rinia Park.(right)

The city of Tirana is a densely-built area but still offers several public parks throughout its districts, graced with green gardens, with an area of 230 hectare, the Grand Park is the largest park in the city. It is one of most visited areas by local citizens,[64] the park includes many children's playgrounds, sport facilities and landmarks such as the Saint Procopius Church, the Presidential Palace, the Botanical Gardens, the Tirana Zoo, the Amphitheatre, the Monument of the Frashëri Brothers and many others.

The Rinia Park was built during the Communist regime in Albania, it bordered by Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard to the east, Gjergi Fishta Boulevard and Bajram Curri Boulevard to the south, Rruga Ibrahim Rugova to the west and Rruga Myslym Shyri to the north. The Taivani Center is the main landmark in the park and houses cafés, restaurants, fountains, and a bowling lane in the basement, the Summer Festival takes place every year in the park, to celebrate the end of winter and the rebirth of nature and a rejuvenation of spirit amongst the Albanians. As of the current Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, the Municipality of Tirana will built more green spaces and will plant more trees.[65]

Culture

The Cloud Pavilion[66] outside the National Art Gallery was installed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

Tirana is an important center for music, film, theatre, dance and visual art, the city is host to the largest cultural institutions of the country, such as the National Theatre and the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Natioan Archaeological Museum, the Art Gallery of Albania, the Sciences Museum of Albania and the National Historical Museum. Among the local institutions are the National Library, that keeps more than a million books, periodicals, maps, atlases, microfilms and other library materials, the city has five well-preserved traditional houses (museum-houses), 56 cultural monuments, eight public libraries.[67] Since 2011, a Tourist Information Office was opened, located behind the National Historical Museum, with useful information about Tirana and Albania.

There are many foreign cultural institutions in the city, including the German Goethe-Institut,[68] Friedrich Ebert Foundation[69] and the British Council.[70] Other cultural centers in Tirana are, Canadian Institute of Technology, Chinese Confucius Institute, Greek Hellenic Foundation for Culture,[71] Italian Istituto Italiano di Cultura[72] and the French Alliance Française,[73] the Information Office of the Council of Europe was established in Tirana. The three main religions in Albania, which contains Islam, Orthodox and Catholic Christianity, have all their headquarters in Tirana. The Bektashi leadership moved to Albania and established their World Headquarters also in the city of Tirana.

One of the major annual events taking place in Tirana each year is the Tirana International Film Festival.[74] It was the first international cinema festival in the country and considered as the most important cinematic event in the country.

Museums

The entrance of the Bunk'art Museum near the city centre.

The most prominent museum in Tirana is the National Historical Museum, which details the history of the country, it keeps some of the best archeological finds in Albania, dating from the prehistoric era to the modern times. In the entrance of the pavilions, there are photos of global personalities, who met Mother Teresa as Jacques Chirac, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Ibrahim Kodra and many other personalities. Undoubtedly, the personal objects used by her increase the curiosity of thousands of visitors in the museum. Almost 1 million visitors were counted in 2012.[75]

Another large museums includes the National Archaeological Museum, which is the national archaeological museum and the first museum created after World War II in Albania, the National Art Gallery opened to the public in 1954. However, the museum preserves over 5000 artworks. Other museums include the Natural Sciences Museum, which has branches in zoology, botany and geology, the former Enver Hoxha Museum and the Bunk'art Museum; in 2017, the Museum of Secret Surveillance (House of leaves) were renovated and re-opened. The historical building from the communist period, aims now portray from the omnipresence of the Albanian communist regime.

Festivals

In recent years, Tirana is becoming a popular hub for events. Festivals are one of several things that people in Tirana enjoy well, it has a large number of festivals and events. The diversity of festivals makes it possible for people of different tastes to find themselves in a city this small. Festivals in the city provide entertainment for the youth as well as for adults, the Summer Festival takes place every year on March 14, celebrating the Spring Day (Albanian: Dita e Veres), the country's largest pagan festival. It is widely celebrated in Tirana and as well as in other cities in Albania and the Arbëresh colonies in Italy.

Another major event, the Tirana International Film Festival takes place in Tirana each year, which brings a large number of artists to produce a wide range of interesting film works. Other festivals include the Tirana Jazz Festival, the Guitar Sounds Festival, the Albanian Wine Festival and more; in 2016, the first Telekom Electronic Beats Festival were held in Tirana, bringing the latest trends from the urban lifestyle to the Albanian youth.[76] This is the effort of Tirana to increase the number of tourist visits. However, the city is become a popular destination for many young people around the region during the vacation period.[77]

Tourism

The five star Plaza Hotel on the 28 Nëntori street.

Tourism in Albania is developing year by year since the fall of communism and the capital city of Tirana become a very popular tourist destinations after the southern Albanian Riviera and northern part of the country. Tirana has a majority of luxury hotels, modern restaurants, bars, pubs and very big nightclubs, the largest hotels of the city are the Tirana International Hotel and The Tirana Plaza situated in the heart of the city near the Scanderbeg Square. The luxury Sheraton Hotel Tirana is also located in city center of Tirana, near central business district next to the National Arena. Other major hotels present in central Tirana include the Xheko Imperial Hotel, Rogner Hotel, the Best Western Premier Ark Hotel and the Mondial Hotel. Tirana is a place that is known as a university center of students from regional countries like Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece.[citation needed]

According to the Polish Tour Operators Association, Tirana has entered into the 10th most visited cities by the Poles,[78] the French Télérama ranked Tirana also to the Top 10 of best destination to be visited in 2017.[79]

Most tourists to the city come from Greece, Italy, Kosovo[citation needed] and Europe, with the number of visitors from elsewhere growing every year, thanks to an increasing number of international airline arrivals at Mother Teresa International Airport as well as luxury cruises that arrive into the Port of Durrës that offers day trips to the City.

A large number of the monuments located in Tirana, date back to the Illyrian, Roman, Greek and Ottoman periods. Monuments include the Skanderbeg Square, Clock Tower of Tirana, Petrelë Castle, Et'hem Bey Mosque, Sacred Heart Church, Resurrection Cathedral, Tomb of Kapllan Pasha, Mother Albania, Blloku, Mount Dajti and Mosaic of Tirana.

Media

Tirana is a major location for the Albanian entertainment industry, with many films, television series, books, newspapers and other media set there, it is the largest centre for film and television production in Albania. Almost all of the major media organizations in Albania are based in Tirana, the television industry developed in Tirana and is a significant employer in the city's economy. Some broadcast networks, RTSH, Top Channel, IN TV (Albania) and Vizion Plus, are all headquartered in Tirana. Radio stations operate in the capital, with the most notable being Radio Tirana, commercial Top Albania Radio and NRG Albania. Tirana is home to the publication of dailies including Shqip, Zëri i Popullit, Shekulli, Gazeta Shqiptare and Koha Jonë. Digitalb and Tring, the two biggest Albanian media, digital satellite and terrestrial TV platform are also based in Tirana. Also editions of national magazines such as Anabel,[80] Elegance,[81] Who[82] and international magazines such as Grazia,[83] OK![84] and others have their headquarters in the city. In 2016, there were 1.82 million Internet users in the country in percentage 63% of the population of Albania.

Sports

Being the capital, Tirana is the center of sport in Albania, where activity is organized across amateur and professional levels, it is home to many major sporting facilities. Starting from 2007, the Tirana Municipality has built up to 80 sport gardens in most of Tirana's neighborhoods. One of the latest projects is the reconstruction of the existing Olympic Park, that will provide infrastructure for most intramural sports.[85]

Tirana hosted in the past three major events, the FIBA EuroBasket 2006, 2011 World Mountain Running Championships and the 2013 European Weightlifting Championships.

There are two major stadiums, the former Qemal Stafa Stadium and the Selman Stërmasi stadium, the former was demolished in 2016 to make way for the new national stadium.[86] The new stadium called the National Arena (Arena Kombëtare) will be constructed on the same site of the former Qemal Stafa Stadium and it is planned to open in 2018. It will have an underground parking, a hotel, shops and bars and will be used for entertainment events. Tirana's sports infrastructure is developing fast because of the investments from the municipality and the government.

Football is the most widely followed sport in Tirana as well as in the country, having numerous club teams including the KF Tirana, Partizani Tirana, and Dinamo Tirana. It is popular at every level of society, from children to wealthy professionals; in football, as of April 2012, the Tirana-based teams have won a combined 57 championships out of 72 championships organized by the FSHF, i.e. 79% of them. Another popular sport in Albania is basketball, represented in particular by the teams KB Tirana, BC Partizani, BC Dinamo, Ardhmëria and also the women's PBC Tirana.

Recently two rugby teams were created: Tirana Rugby Club,[87] founded in 2013 and Ilirët Rugby Club[88] founded in 2016.

Sports clubs

Club Established Sport League Venue Capacity
Dinamo Tirana 1950 Football First Division Arena Kombëtare 22,500
Partizani Tirana 1946 Football Superliga Arena Kombëtare 22,500
KF Tirana 1920 Football Superliga Selman Stërmasi Stadium 9,500
BC Partizani 1946 Basketball A1 League Asllan Rusi Palace 3,000
PBC Tirana Women 1946 Basketball A1 League Asllan Rusi Palace 3,000

Education

The University of Tirana is the largest and highest ranking university in the country.
The building of the Faculty of Law of Tirana.

After the fall of communism in Albania, a reorganization plan was announced in 1990, that would extend the compulsory education program from eight to ten years, the following year, major economic and political crisis in Albania, and the ensuing breakdown of public order, plunged the school system into chaos. Widespread vandalism and extreme shortages of textbooks and supplies had a devastating effect on school operations, prompting Italy and other countries to provide material assistance. Many teachers relocated from rural to urban areas, leaving village schools understaffed and swelling the ranks of the unemployed in the cities; about 2,000 teachers fled the country.[citation needed] -The highly controlled environment that the communist regime had forced upon the educational system over the course of more than forty-six years was finally liberated set for improvement. In the late 1990, many schools were rebuilt or reconstructed, to improve learning conditions. Most of the improvements have happened in the larger cities of the country especially in Tirana.[citation needed]

In Tirana, there are 64 primary schools and 19 secondary schools,[89] the city is also host to many higher education institutions. This brings many young students from other cities and countries, especially from neighbouring countries, to Tirana. Many private Universities have been opened during the recent years, the French computer science university Epitech is also located in the city.

In recent years, foreign students mainly from Southern Italy are being enrolled at Italian-affiliated universities in Tirana in the hope of better preparing themselves for entrance exams in Italy's universities.

Universities in Tirana
Name Established City Type Students Academic staff
University of Tirana 1957 Tirana Public Classic School 35,000 900
University of Arts 1966 Tirana Public Art School 1200 64
University of Medicine 2013 Tirana Public Medical School 8460 417
Polytechnic University 1951 Tirana Public Technical School 10,000 280
Agricultural University 1951 Tirana Public Agricultural School 14,000 480
School of Magistrates 1997 Tirana Public Law School 27 15
European University 2006 Tirana Private Classical School 2952 167
Tirana International School 1991 Tirana Private Quality School 200 -
Marin Barleti University 2005 Tirana Private Classical School - -
Faculty of Law 1954 Tirana Private Law School 5000 71
Catholic University 2004 Tirana Private Theological School 1500 600
Epoka University 2004 Tirana Private Classical School 1400 85
Bedër University 2011 Tirana Private Gülen Theological School 1000 50

Notable people

International relations

As Tirana, many of them are the most influential and largest or primate cities of their country and political, economical, cultural capital of their country.

Gallery

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ Station ID for Tirana is 13615 Use this station ID to locate the sunshine duration
  2. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 111 out of 193 United Nations member states.
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Further reading

External links

  1. ^ Each of the 11 divisions is an administrative unit