Things to do in Kruja, Albania
Kruja is one of the most important cities of Albania. It is primarily famous for being the hometown of George Kastriot Skanderbeg, the greatest Albanian hero of all time. Located just one hour from the capital city Tirana, you can easily visit it just for a day. Here are some tips for making the most of your time in Kruja, Albania.
Drink Turkish coffee in the Morning
Start your day in Kruja with a traditional Turkish coffee at Hotel Panorama, a majestic hotel located at the entrance to the town’s old bazaar. Relax while you drink the hot and tasty beverage and prepare yourself to visit this ancient town.
Visit the Ethnographic Museum of Kruja, Albania
The museum is in a lovely old house built in 1764 which belonged to one of the wealthy families living in the castle. It is set in a walled courtyard with two gateways. It is a typical Ottoman style house with storage rooms on the ground floor and with the living quarters above. Most of the items are original. On the porch is a quern (traditional equipment for making leather). One of the rooms contains a forge. Another has small water driven mill to grind flour. There is also a display to make the traditional felt hats worn by Albanian men as well as a machine for washing the felt. Another room contains a large oil crush operated by donkey power, and a press to extract the oil.
The doorways are low so people have to bow to enter or leave the room, thus showing respect. There are display cases on the landing area with wedding clothes of both bride and groom. The men’s room has a fireplace and examples of weapons and musical instruments are hanging on the walls. Above the doorway is a gallery where the women could sit and see if the men wanted anything to eat or drink. As marriages were arranged this was often the first view a girl would have of her future husband. As well as being used for cooking, grandparents would often sleep on low mattresses near the fire.
Recall History at Skanderbeg Museum
Enver Hoxha’s daughter and her husband designed this museum, nestling it inside the castle complex was opened in 1982. Its spacious seven-level interior displays replicas of armor and paintings depicting Skanderbeg’s battle against the Ottomans.
Buy Something at the Bazaar
This Ottoman-style bazaar was restored in 2015 and now looks better than ever. It is one of the country’s best places for souvenir shopping and has antique gems and high quality traditional wares, including beautifully embroidered tablecloths, copper coffee pots and plates. The bazaar itself runs through a tangle of streets, but a good place to start exploring is along Pazari Vjeter.
Explore the Castle
In these days Kruja, Albania’s once important castle is just an impressive ruin. Within its crumbling walls there are Albanian flag sellers, pizza restaurants and an array of interesting sights. It’s a fun place to poke about and plenty of locals make their way up to the castle to catch the sunset.
Breathe some Fresh Air at National Park of Qafshtama
The National Park of Qafshtama comprises an area of 2,000 hectares. The road that leads to the entrance of the park goes through the narrow Vaja Canyon, about 600-700 meters deep, formed by the Droja River. Legend tells that after the occupation of Kruja, Albania by the Turks, ninety young virgins from the town threw themselves down to the bottom of the canyon in order not to fall into the Turks hands. Qafë Shtama Park consists of pine forests, which, when paired with great general climate conditions, make for great hiking. In the Qafë Shtama Park you can also find the Burimi i Nënës Mbretëreshë (Queen Mother’s Spring), from which clear water, noted for its health-promoting properties, flows. Qafë-Shtama is suitable for nature tourism including hiking, camping, and more.