Shkodra

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View of the city from Rozafa Fortress

Shkodra is the fourth largest city in Albania. Recently, it has experienced a face lift as streets and buildings were renovated, a promenade opened and a new swing bridge built over Buna River.

Understand[edit]

Visitor information[edit]

  • Shkoder Tourist Info CenterRruga Teuta (Southeast of Sheshi Demokracia).

History[edit]

Queen Teuta' Illryan kingdom was based here in the 3rd century BCE. The Ottomans seiged it in 1473 and 1479, and lost 14,000 and 30,000 men in these raids, respectively. Shkodra changed hands with Montenegro numerous times during World War I. Shkodra was badly damaged in a 1979 earthquake.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

Buses/furgons between Shkodra and Tirana leave approximately every hour. The 2 hour, 116km journey costs 500 leke [Aug 2011].

From Ulcinj in Montenegro, buses cost €8 and leave at 0600 and 1230. If not available, you can take a taxi to the border at Muriquani (€10) and after crossing the border, take another taxi to Ulcinj (€8). However return ticket from Shkodra to Ulcinj costs €5 and buses leave at 0900 and 1600 from the city center fountain.

From Podgorica, take public buses to Tuzi, then hire a taxi either to the border or to Shkodra.

Minibuses to/from Hani i Hotit (the Montenegro border on the way to Podgorica ) run around 300 Lek. Taxis for this journey cost €15.

From Kosovo, buses from Gjakova go at 6 AM directly to Shkodra via the highway from Prizren.

Get around[edit]

Finding your way round Shkodra is complicated by the fact that recently ALL roads have been renamed, and some of the old names have even been re-used in different places! All roads have got new road signs. Since all the maps and guides (including this one) give the old names, finding your way round is a bit like being in a parallel universe.

By bike[edit]

Shkodra is the bike capital of Albania, because its flat. This is a heritage from the Hoxha-era.

See[edit]

  • Kalaja/Rozafa Fortress (2km southwest of Shkodra, near the southern end of Lake Shkodra). Founded by the Illyrians, rebuilt by the Venitians and the Ottomans. Rozafa is a woman buried in the ramparts, who supports the structure. The renovated museum inside the castle explains its history and that the area of the former city is now consumed by the rivers beside the castle. The museum cost 200 Leks extra and there is a private guide you can ask about almost everything. There are amazing views from the highest point. 200 lek.
  • Shkodra Historical MuseumRr. Oso Kuka, no. 12 22 243213. 9AM-2PM. The Museum is situated at a traditional Shkodran House featuring valuable artifacts on every sphere of social life in the area. 150 lek.
  • Fototeke MarubiMuhamet Gollesha. First ever photograph taken in Albania (1858) is here. It's tricky to find, in a private house down an alleyway 100m north-east of 5-heroes roundabout. Ask a local to show you the way. 130 lek.
  • Lake Shkodra. The largest lake in the Balkans. Take a taxi to the village of Shiroke. Alternatively ask around for the public bus which goes to the edge of the city, where it is a pleasant 5 km walk by the lake to Shiroke. There is a less frequent bus directly to Shiroke.
  • Ebu Beker Mosque
  • Shkodër Cathedral
  • Shkodër Orthodox Cathedral'
  • Mesi Bridge, an Ottoman styled bridge and the nearby Drishti Castle
  • Albanian Alps
  • 5 Heroes monument. This was "one of Albania's best examples of socialist-realist sculpture"[lonelyplanet]. Unfortunately, you can't see it any more except on postcards, because it has been replaced by a bland contemporary fountain. The site is still a useful reference point for finding your way around. Interestingly, the fountain is surrounded by seating, in the centre of a busy roundabout called Sheshi Demokracia (Democracy Square) with no pedestrian crossings! Only in Albania!
  • Shiroka, a picturesque fishing village along Skadar Lake
  •    Shurdhah Island. (Albanian: Ishulli i Shurdhahit)The Shurdhah Island is located in the Vau i Dejës Reservoir, which is fed and drained by the river Drin. It is accessible by tourist boat in summer from the Vau i Dejës dam or Rragam. It contains the ruins of the medieval town of Sarda. You can visit the ruins of the 11th century medieval castle, which includes two rings of defensive walls and towers (some sadly submerged in the lake), the remains of a Byzantine church and other early medieval walls. The setting on the steep rocks rising from the lake is especially impressive.
  • Drisht Castle, is an ancient castle above the modern Albanian village of Drisht, medieval Drivastum, in the municipality Postribë. The castle's earliest trace of fortifications date to the late Neolithic era.

Do[edit]

  • Pjaca/Kol Idromeno St. (In the Center of Shkodra). Take a walk on the main pedestrian street of the city full of cafes and locals promenading in the evening hours.
  • Molo PromenadeShetitorja Molos (Near Buna River Old Bridge along the river bank). Romantic renovated promenade along the riverside.
  • Visit the above churches and mosques of the city
  • The Lake Koman ferry is a breathtaking trip across Lake Koman from Koman to Fierze, where you can move on to Bajram Curri or further to Kosovo. Take a furgon in the morning 6:30 AM from the second roundabout down Marin Barleti about 500m away from the city centre. If you are at the center-most place (the one in front of the hotel Rozafa) before 6:00 AM, you scream out "Koman" and people will guide you through the correct furgon or call the furgon driver by phone that he picks you up.
  • Take a peak at the Bazaar of the Artisans (Pazari i Artizanatit) located at the city entrance where you can buy locally made souvenirs of all kinds.
  • Festivals. take place on an annual basis such as Carnival, Childrens Festival, AniFest Rozafa Animated Film Festival, Lake Day, and Shkodra Jazz Fest.
  • Take part in the annual Traditional Plays Festival (Lojra Popullore) showcasing the best of the North Albanian Folklore every end of March at Rozafa Castle.[1]
  • Canoeing in Bojana (Buna) River
  • Hiking in the Albanian Alps

Buy[edit]

  • "Skenderbeu" Kognak
  • Hand made souvenirs such as rugs located in Zogaj village or at the Artisan's Bazaar located at Shkodra's entrance

Eat[edit]

Shkodra is famous for its numerous patisseries where you can eat delicious sweets.

  • Carp fish in Shiroke village

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • Florian's Guest HouseShkodra: shtoj i ri, reparti ushtarak. kodrajt (By car just turn down from E762 road towards Shtoj i Ri. Pass a few local shops, look for sign on right hand side of road.),  +355682335921. Small B&B/Guest House run by Florian and his family, located amongst orchards and vineyards. Outside, but within walking distance from the centre of Shkoder. Breakfast is included, lunch and dinner offered for 4 Euros, serving Albanian cuisine made from organic food farmed in the own garden. Family can help to arrange tours of Shkoder and to get into the Albanian Alps or to other cities in the country. 12 beds. Email for reservations: fokodra@hotmail.com. €15, breakfast included.
  • Hotel Rozafa (Hotel Turizmi) (Right in the city centre, Rruga Marin Barleti close to Sheshi Demokracia). Old communist style hotel; clean; gentle and English-speaking personal; nice view over the city if you book in an upper floor; 91 rooms; no air condition. 2000 Leks for a double room (2013).
  • Hotel Kaduku (at Sheshi Demokracia, immediately next to the Rozafa Hotel),  +355 22 242216. Highly recommended - friendly staff, large clean room with A/C, right in the city centre. €50 for double, with breakfast [Sep 2011].
  • Hotel Tradita (Tradita G&T), Rr. Risto Siliqi, no. 25 +355 22 240 537. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. As close as it gets to being invited to the dining hall, the kitchen and courtyard of the local Ottoman Pasha. € 50.
  • Hotel ColosseoRr.. 14 rooms. Single: €50; Double: €60; Suite: €70.
  • Hotel Argenti + 355 22 439 09. Modern hotel in Velipoja area with comfortable rooms furnished with A/C, TV, bathroom and showers. Restaurant with traditional Albanian and European cuisine.

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