Kruja was the most important Balkan towns during the 15th century. It successfully withstood at least three major sieges by the Ottoman Empire. The medieval hero Gjergj Kastrioti (a.k.a. “Scanderbeg”) had a base of operations there. The Albanians consider him a symbol of resistance as well as a savior. Even the Ottomans believed that a supernatural force dwelled in him. Because of this, after his death they destroyed his tomb in order to take parts of his bones as good luck charms.
Points of Interest in Kruja, Albania:
The Museum of Scanderbeg was designed as an ancient fortress. It is composed of separate pavilions, each representing a piece of Kruja, Albania’s heroic struggle against Ottoman invasion. These include the pavilion of antiquity and early middle age, the Albanian princedom pavilion, the pavilion of ottoman invasion, the medieval fortress pavilion and the Albanian resistance pavilion. Each of these, in their own way, reflect the life and activity of Albania’s most famous national hero.
Kruja Castle was built in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. Charles I of Anjou rebuilt the walls in the 13th century, and the Turks rebuilt them again some centuries later. In 1617 an earthquake caused great damage to the walls, after which they were reinforced with 9 towers. The highest and most well-defended part of the fortress is a clock tower. It used to serve as an observation platform during times of war.
The Ethnographic Museum is located near Scanderbeg’s museum. It resides in one of the characteristic dwelling houses of Kruja, this one dating back to 1764. Within, you can find 16 rooms, each exhibiting original historic ceramics, wood, cotton, wool, silk, stone as well as folk dresses. Together, these give you a clear picture of the history of the district as you become acquainted with its traditions and customs.
The Old Bazaar has some of the best shopping in town. The bazaar was reconstructed in the 1960’s, preserving the same look and feel as was present in the 18th century. All of the shops, for example, are still made entirely of wood.
Eat, drink and enjoy the view. After visiting some of the most popular places of Kruja, you can relax in one of the local restaurants. There, you can test the traditional food while enjoying the view.