Home of the all Albanian hero
Kruje Travel Blog› entry 7 of 18 › view all entries
I will go
and visit the castle of the most important Albanian hero today he was an
Albanian prince given as hostage to the Ottomans who converted him to Islam and
gave him an education. His name is Gjergj Kastrioti - fortunately the Ottomans
realized you could not market a man with the name Kastrioti as a national hero
on the western European market the name just give too much resembles to another
word. Hence the Ottomans quickly changed his they named his Iskander after
Alexander the Great. He rose through the
rakes in the Ottoman army and achieved the rank of governor or bei - this title
was added to his name which turned into the name he is known under today
He served under the Ottomans for years until the Ottomans suffered a defeat against the Hungarians in 1443. This gave Skanderbeg the opportunity he had been waiting for and he left the Ottoman army to lead the Albanian rebellion against the Ottomans. The Ottoman soon came to regret they had named him after Alexander the Great because for the next 25 years he kept fighting the Ottomans and he managed to repulse 13 consecutive invasions. He was named the captain general of the Holy See by the pope and was the main European resistance against the Ottomans during this period. The Ottomans besieged his main base in Kruja 4 times but every time they failed in their attempt to conquered the city.
were never defeated by the Ottomans but died by disease shortly after the last
time the Ottomans had laid siege to Kruja. After Skanderbeg died the resistance
quickly faded away and the Ottomans managed to take full control over Albania
and they were in control until 1912 when Albania finally got their
I want to go and see this city which played such an important role in Albanian history. I go down the streets of Tirana to go find a furgon (small minibus) to get to Kruja. I find the place where the furgons to Kruja is leaving from and there is all ready a couple of people sitting inside. I guess a couple of locals are going the same way - or that is what I assumed until they started speaking English with an American accent. I guess I am not the only tourist going to this tourist place. We wait for about 5 minutes more until the furgon is filled up with passengers and then we leave for Kruja - it is only a short ride of about an hour or so.
When we get
to Kruja we get out of the furgon and starts to get going to the castle of the
city - but as we are walking down the road a huge bus is coming - and it is a
tourist bus full of Japanese tourist.
I talk a
bit with the Americans and we all agree it is better to go for a cup of coffee
and let the crowd just pass us before we go to the castle. We walk through a
small market street full of people selling carpets and other souvenirs - this
gotta be the touristiest street in all of Albania. When we are sitting drinking
coffee yet another busload of tourist arrives making it a total of three
busloads in Albania - considering the number of tourist in the country this
might just be half the total population of foreign tourist in all of Albania
this particular day.
We go up to the castle and one of the first things we see is a big museum. And it is quite obvious that this museum is new - it looks brand new like it is only a few years old. Actually the Albanian is not very good at restoring their old heritage - they do it in a way so you can see it is all brand new. We go into the museum - and the principal of restoration also seems to affect the artifacts on display - several of them looks like copies of the original artifacts which have been reconstructed by the local fifth grade class in art class. The best thing of the museum is actually the view from the second floor terrace.
We get out
of the museum and have a look around the old castle it is sort of interesting
the way people is still living inside the old castle and people have probably
been living inside the castle ever since the days of Skanderbeg.
Even though the castle is not very big it is actually possible to find a bit of the castle where the tourist do not go. It seems like the tourist only go to the museum and the top part of the castle but if you walk a bit down the castle there is a small mosque where not very many people comes. A local let us into the mosque to have a look. Inside there is the tombs of some dead people. I have no idea who they are and the local man is not much help given he speaks no English or German whatsoever. But is a nice little mosque with some drawings on top. The reason the mosque survived the communist era seems to be it was declared a cultural monument - hence the bulldozer where not put in to level it to the ground.
Next to the
mosque is a small building - it is a style of building I have never seen
before. It seems to be a really important building given the local man is very
keen for us to see it.
After a bit more walking around it is time to leave the castle and get some lunch before the road will take me back to Tirana.