Growing up in an Albanian household has made me hear so many stories and legends about my country. I always wondered how did people come up with these stories and why such legends are still around, but they always intrigued me to go and visit these places as often as I could. One of my favorite legends is that of the Rozafa Castle.

Rozafa Castle

Before I start writing about the legend I will answer some of your most FAQs.

Where is Rozafa Castle located?

Rozafa Castle is located in Shkodra. Situated on a hill that offers magnificent views of 3 valleys, 3 rivers, and multiple mosques and mountains.

Do you need to book in advance in order to see the castle?

You do not need to book in order to visit the castle, you just go there, pay for the ticket and see the ruins, the views, and the place. However, if you want a full experience of Rozafa Castle, we suggest you book one of our private tours and we will tell you a detailed story about the castle, the legend and what is historically important for Albania.

What is the best way to see Rozafa Castle?

The best way to see Rozafa is through a tour that includes Rozafa Castle but also gives you the opportunity to see the town of Shkodra and enjoy a kayak ride and birdwatching in Shkodra.

How old is Rozafa Castle?

The castle is more than 4000 years old and it is an important attraction. It withstood many famous sieges including the Ottoman siege in 1478 and the Montenegrin in 1912.

What is the legend of Rozafa?

This legend starts like every other legend.

Once upon a time, there were 3 brothers. The three brothers were married and were living in Northern Albania. They were hard workers but also they loved their city so they wanted to build a castle that would protect the only home they had ever known. As the sun started to set and the foggy night took its place, the castle walls would rumble and tumble down by a mysterious force never seen before.

The days passed, the castle walls would rise through work during the day and fall during the night. Desperately the brothers wanted to find out what causes the castle to fall. They decided each one spend a night and watch over the castle. The youngest spend the first night there, he had a dream, that fog went over the walls and metamorphosed into an old wise man that spoke to him in his sleep. The dream was as real as a dream could be, he told the man that he had seen the trouble the brothers had been facing and he has the solution for that.

What was the solution?

The solution was terrifying. In terror, the youngest woke up and impatiently waited to tell his brothers that a curse had fallen upon the castle and the only way to make it stand was by burying one of their wives, the one who would bring them lunch the next day. They promised each other to not tell their wives what was supposed to happen. A sacrifice would take place.

However, as difficult it is for Albanian’s to break their Besa, the older brothers couldn’t keep it. They tossed and turned in bed that night until they told their wives all about the horrible solution and the sacrifice. Meanwhile, the youngest was a man of Besa, he didn’t tell his wife a word.

The next day they headed to work to build the castle once for all while waiting anxiously for what will happen, who is going to show up.

Lunchtime was approaching and the two eldest wives made excuses to not go but Rozafa, the youngest of them took the tray and baskets with food and started walking uphill towards the castle. As the husband saw her, his heart started breaking with each step she made. When she arrived at the castle they explained to her what had happened and that she was part of the sacrifice they had to make, and she agreed without protesting, but on one condition?

On what Condition Rozafa agreed?

As she had just become a mother, she told them to leave half of her body out and bury the other half. She wanted to have one of her eyes out so she would be able to see her baby, a breast to feed the baby, a hand to caress him and a leg to rock his cradle.

They agreed and did so, the castle stood and withstood many sieges.

The legend of Rozafa shows the strength of Albanian women who sacrificed their lives for something bigger, for their family, their country, or their house.

Visit the Rozafa Castle and learn more about it.