Shkodra is the most important urban center of Northern Albania, renowned in the entire country for its rich cultural traditions. It is one of the largest cities in Albania, with a population of 110,000 inhabitants. Shkodra has a very favorable geographic position and can be considered as an ‘entry port’ both to the grandiose Albanian Alps on one hand, and to the sandy beach of Velipoja on the Adriatic, on the other. Shkodra is one of the most ancient cities in Albania.
It was founded in the 4th century B.C. as the centre of the Illyrian tribe of the Labeates. Under the rule of the Illyrian king Gent, it became the capital of the Illyrian state. This is the period when the first coins of the city appear. In 168 BC it fell under Roman rule and in 1040 under Serb rule. In the wake of the fall of the Serbian Empire, Shkodra became an important urban center. In the 14th century it became the capital of the Balsha feudal principality. In 1396 it was occupied by Venetian forces and in 1479 by the Ottomans, who razed the city to the ground. The city recovered slowly and in the 17th century became the most important centre of trade and culture in Northern Albania, while one century later it became the centre of the Shkodra Paschalik (1757-1831). During this time the Bushatllis, who governed the Paschalik, created a rich library. Also, it was in Shkodra that the first Albanian photographs were produced by Pietro Marubi.
Shkodra is known as the city where the first workers’ strike took place in 1901 and where the 1st of May was first celebrated in 1905. The first football game ever played in Albania was in Shkodra and the town boasts the first football club in established in 1919. Shkodra also has a rich tradition in music, painting and literature, with a long list of renowned artists and writers. Cultural attractions to visit in Shkodra include the Rozafa Castle, the Lead Mosque, the Gjuhadol neighborhood, the Historical Museum of Shkodra and the Marubi Photographic Fund. Nearby, Northwestern Albania contains the following additional cultural attractions: Sarda, the Drisht Castle, Ura e Mesit (the Mes Bridge), the Shirgji Church and the Highlands Ethnographic Museum. Natural attractions include Shkodra Lake, Theth National Park, Razma mountain resort and Vermosh Mountain.
Rozafa Castle in Shkoder
Having personally been to this castle and the Mesa bridge I can attest to the beauty and historic value this castle has to offer. The view from the castle is breathless….the city, the mountains and the river all coming together in one stunning spot! Not to be missed if you ever visit Albania.