KRUJA, A FLAVOR OF NATIONAL IDENTITY…
November 18, 2019 || views
BY ELITJONA DOKO
The small city is becoming a weekend destination
Kruja has a glorious history that is better documented than any other city in Albania. This city has a historical character with unmatched nationwide values. As our journey continues, the massive castle appears. Despite Ottoman invasions and several battles this giant has remained sturdy. It is located over a rocky hill and it is surrounded by mighty cliffs that serve as a natural protective fence. As you peacefully ponder and walk around, you get the impression that it only exists in history books. At the entrance, there is an elder playing the çifteli welcoming visitors with the sound of the instrument.
According to historical data, Kruja Castle was built during the 5th and 6th Centuries and has an elliptic shape over a 2.25 ha surface. The defensive walls are supplemented by nine towers used for observation and signalizing wars. There are still some residential houses within the fortification walls and one of them has become the Museum of Ethnography. This house was built in 1764 and was the residence of Toptani Family, a wealthy family during that time. The house has two floors. The first floor was used for the economy of the house producing olive oil, glass, fabric, ceramics, breading livestock, and served as storage rooms for tools used in farming and the aforementioned occupations. We take the stairs to the second floor. There are a couple of doors here. On the left, there is the women’s room, the kitchen with the hearth and some old kitchen pots. The men’s room has also a fireplace; there are weapons and seating places.
The National Historical Museum “Gjergj Kastrioti, Skëndërbeu”, the precious stone of Kruja’s crown
I won’t mention the values of the Historical Museum of Kruja, being one of the best organized in Albania, highly valued by tens of nationalities that come to visit Kruja from around the world. I want to highlight the values of the staff working in this museum. Each and every one of them is a valuable contributor. They are dedicated workers who go above and beyond their duties to keep this institution running. The Museum of Kruja works as a family incessantly to attract visitors and tourists all year-round. Besides historical values, Kruja has a view of the mountains, fields, and the sea creating a wonderful panorama for a day or a lifetime. Kruja could be an interesting place to live for visitors coming to Albania to work or for tourism.
The view of Kruja, especially during clear starry nights is quite impressive. From the top, you can see Rinas airport, Preza castle, Petrela castle, and Lezha; also your eye can grasp the Adriatic Sea, Durrës, Porto Romano, Patoku and Shëngjini. You are surrounded by a wonderfulendless space. To the east of Kruja, there is Qafshtama that has become a great alpine destination. Check pictures of Qafshtama and you will be enchanted by its remarkable autumnal landscape. If you want to spent an unforgettable weekend visit Shkreli Hotel Resort. This alpine structure was built in the midst of the national park and is surrounded byhealing waters and fresh air.
Kruja is a religious pilgrimage destination. You can follow the footsteps of Sarisalltik Saint and reach Tekke over the mountaintop, a blessed place visited by many. Pilgrimage is a branch of tourism with a future and could make Kruja the second Lurde.
If you chose to visit Kruja meet its generous hospitality in one of the oldest homes located within the fortification walls. This house was restored by his owner, Alborent Rama. His idea to conserve the identity and the tradition of Kruja home was brilliant. This place is beautiful, simple and humble. At the entrance of the castle, a sign leads you to the right. Then, you follow a circuitous path surrounded by the fortification walls which eventually leads you to the destination. Once you enter, it feels as if you are visiting your grandmother in the village. There is a large front yard, lush with trees, stone walls, peaceful lighting, clean environment, water from the well and many elements from heyday but masterfully modernized for present day. We are at the heart of
Kruja, the place that harbors our national identity, in the city of Skanderbeg. There are only two rooms available for accommodation that charge reasonable prices. This is a modern Hostel arranged within the historical castle walls.
Hotel “Mervin” has a panoramic view and breathes fresh alpine air
This is a serious investment and has an impressive view right at the center of Kruja. Hotel “Mervin” has applied an architecture that is fit for the alpine region and hard mountainsbut with an enchanting view nonetheless. You can chooseamong 12 rooms to relax. The bar on the last floor offers an opportunity to eye the entire Kruja stretching until DurrësiCoast. The cultural service and dedication of the staff gives it a familiar setting that makes it easy to relax. Inner design has been appropriately chosen to match the altitude. The inviting colors and peaceful details reflect the traditional and the modern. Enjoy your morning coffee at the top terrace where the sea, the sky and the mountain become one.
Kruja is a promising destination. It has history, archaeological objects, a castle, a museum, a medieval market place, the Albanopolisi ruins, and the Skanderbeg monument. Kruja is a place that attracts many Albanians and foreigners as well. Such investments and restorations have revived the originality of the city. They don’t harm the existing structures but addvalue and more accommodation rooms for visitors to stop longer. Conserving the original edifices is of outmost importance and connecting neighborhoods with roads, cobbles, or other forms is still a work in progress. We hope that “Mervin” Hotel would be a push to add more objects of architecture that will feature traditional attributes. Kruja is not just a destination where you can spend a couple of hours on Saturdays or Sundays but it is a touristic package that could fulfill all your weekend expectations!