Albania: history of Tirana

I was first stationed in Tirana. It was there that I would spend the following two weeks, the bulk of my stay, at my grandparents house, and when I say house, I mean is apartment because the vast majority of residents live in apartments. Tirana is a city in the absolute sense, not in the suburban sense. I grew up in Tirana till age 9, so I am most familiar with it, but before I give you my impressions of it during this visit, and a bit of my memories of it growing up there, let us delve back in time and discuss its history from its humble beginnings to the present.

Tirana is the capital of Albania. It is centrally located bridging the gap between the north and the south, two distinct geographical regions with two cultures and dialects: the northern Highlanders we call the Ghegs, and the southerners which we call the Tosks. Although both regions are mountainous, the north is the more rugged, while the South is the more refined, if i’m not mistaken. Tirana itself is very near the north and is more sharp than sweet. It’s also nestled between rugged mountains, the most prominent being Mount Dajti.

Tirana was proclaimed the modern capital in 1920, 8 years after Albania declared independence from the Ottoman Empire. The region has had settlements perhaps dating back to the bronze age, though the evidence is ever so vague when we go so far back in time. All we have is tools, ceramics, artifacts; the earliest near Mount Dajti and The Cave of Pellumbas. We do have a mosaic from the first century and evidence of a Christian from the fifth century.

It was 400 years ago, in 1614, that Tirana became officially established as a city of the Ottoman Empire. At that time a feudal Lord from the nearby town of Mullet built a mosque, a bakery and a Turkish bath in this city of 7000 people. But it is true that Tirana existed well before 1614. Marin Bartletti the Albanian Byzantine historian refers to Tirana in the 15th century. Since then, the population in fact decreased. Tirana lost 13000 residents from 1583 to the date of its Ottoman founding, in 1614, a very substantial loss, leaving it with only a third of its population.

The decrease continued and the population appears to have bottomed out at 4000 residents in 1703. From then it grew gradually reaching 12000 in 1820 and there appears to be no decline since. By 1945 the population had boomed to 60000. Considering it was the capital, Tirana has always been a favorite city of residence for all Albanians. During communism it was particularly difficult to move here. Housing and job opportunities were scarce. Moreover, the authorities did not wish to promote villagers into city dwellers. At the same time, they did build drab but sufficient apartments for Tirana’s residents, establishing an acceptable living standard.

Today, Tirana’s population has boomed exponentially to over 500,000 residents. The drab old apartments have often in central streets, turned colorful, thanks to a creative former mayor, an artist by training. But it is a cramped city. The open spaces that once were even a decade ago are no more. There is always something being built every day, it appears. Tirana has begun to sprawl in the surrounding counties, once considered outside its realm, and even is growing up the mountainside of Mount Dajti, an absurdity in and of itself. But that is Tirana: an absurd and eclectic city.

 

Sources:

http://www.visit-tirana.com/explore-tirana/good-to-know

NY Times

http://www.worldmayor.com/worldmayor_2004/tirana_history.html

photo: Visit-tirana.com

Motivational Quotes 6/24/19

There is no way to go back, but there may be a way to go forward

Whether it is lived right or lived wrong, life is hard. But the life that is lived right is hard in a rewarding way, while the life that is lived wrong is hard in a regrettable way.

The first draft sometimes is the best draft

Even a Toad has four ounces of strength – Chinese proverb

“We lived our lives as if life was forever. To live one’s life without a sense of time is to squander it.” — Diana Trilling, The Beginning of the Journey

Failure is only true after a real and worthy effort; failure after the first try is a foolish lie.

For what human ill does not dawn seem to be an alleviation? –Thornton Wilder

If you count everything you been through, it proves you are stronger than you think

How can they say my life isn’t a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escape being eaten? –Logan Pearsall Smith

I don’t want to change my life. I want to like my life!

The light that burns twice as bright lasts half as long. -popular

 

Cool ancient curiosities

The first person to discover the earth was round was the astronomer Eratosthenes in 200 BC. He also measured the earth’s circumference.

The first person to firmly establish that the brain is the organ of intelligence, rather than the heart, was the physiologist Herophilus.

The first person to invent gear trains and steam engines was Heron of Alexandria.

Aristarchus of Samos was the first person to argue that the earth was a planet in orbit around the sun, rather than the center of the solar system. (Yet this view was rejected for 1500 years!)

Many of these discoveries were made in ancient Alexandria, Egypt. This city was founded by Alexander the great. Today it is a power no more. But at its height, it was formidable, perhaps as significant in its time, as New York or London is today.

Source: Cosmos by Carl Sagan