Albania in December – the mountains & Krujë

Determined to head out of the city at least a few times, we were lucky enough to be driven out to Krujë, about an hour’s drive from Tirana.

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We even managed to make it out there to catch the sunset – bonus!

Perched on the flank of the mountains overlooking Tirana, the old city and castle have quite a spectacular setting to look at.

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The mountain range being echoed by the castle walls, the deep blue skies above and the setting sun were perfect ingredients!

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Lace is one of those typical handmade products being sold all over the place in Krujë.

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The reconstruction of the Albanian national hero Skenderbegs castle – which also houses the Skanderbeg museum – is a rather self-aggrandizing and very Disney-ish building. The history is doubtless fascinating and the feats of arms amazing (withstading three consecutive Ottoman sieges in the 15th century before succumbing to the third). However the museum does a mediocre job of detailing the context and the new building seems weirdly plonked down into the middle of the archaeological remains.

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But never fear – food could be had nearby, so that mellowed my disposition sufficiently to be able to regard the building and a herd of almost feral cats with something approaching fondness.

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And on a more serious note, the view from the restaurant was truly breathtaking, with the setting sun painting the ridgeline a violent orange.

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We headed back to the car via the old bazaar. Quiet little cobblestoned streets flanked by shops with stout wooden shutters and every kind of memorabilia you can think of.

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Communist-era books with odd titles abound, as do all kinds of antiques from old coffee-bean rosters to German Wehrmacht helmets from World War II.

“For the People, With the People” – “Për Popullin, Me Popullin”
“With the People, among Friends” – “”Me Popullin, Mes Shokeve”

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“100 Years from the Birth of J.V. Stalin” – “100 Vjetori i Lindjes se J.V. Stalinit”
“40 Years of Socialist Albania” – “40 Viet Shqiperi Socialiste”

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Krujë is an nice little town, the views it affords are great, the museum incongruous and low on background, but if you’re ever in Tirana and looking for half a day outside the capital – take this trip.

If you’re planning on a day trip, however, I’d recommend Shkodër… but that’s for another post!