Delve into Albania’s tumultuous past at the National Historical Museum in Tirana and then tour its oldest building, a mosque that was closed during the Communist regime.
Depart from the pier and make the one-hour drive along Durres’ scenic main thoroughfare toward Tirana, which lies due east between Dajti Mountain and the coastal plains. Upon arriving in Albania’s dynamic capital, you will visit the National Historical Museum, the country’s largest museum.
It presents an intriguing look into Albania’s development over the centuries, as many of the thousands of objects date to the Paleolithic era. The historical treasures are grouped somewhat chronologically into pavilions focusing on topics such as the Middle Ages, the Ottoman invasion, ethnography and Albania’s independence from Turkey in 1912. There are also exhibits displaying more contemporary items reflecting life after the oppressive 41-year reign of Albania’s first Communist chief of state, Enver Hoxha, who died in 1985.
Later, you will walk to nearby Skanderbeg Square. At its heart stands a statue of Skanderbeg, an Albanian national hero who repulsed numerous Turkish invasions in the 15th century. Tirana’s oldest building, the Ethem Bey Mosque, flanks the square. Although closed for decades during the Communist era, the 18th-century mosque reopened in 1991 and, as you will see, the interior is exquisite. The frescoes and rare Islamic still life paintings are especially remarkable.
Afterwards, you will enjoy a short refreshment break and time to shop for items such as ornamental filigree and silver jewelry before rejoining your coach and driving back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2-hours of easy to moderate walking and includes some steps to negotiate. Travel time to Tirana is 1-hour by coach in each direction. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned only to participate to the extent of their personal stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary.