Old and New Tirana: Museums and Blloku Quarter

Old and New Tirana: Museums and Blloku Quarter

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      Tirana, Albania
      3 Hours 45 Minutes
      Moderate
      From (USD)
      $ 73
      • City sights: See Skanderbeg Square with its 36-foot equestrian monument to a larger-than-life hero, the Palace of Culture, National Theater, Et'hem Bey Mosque, the Clock Tower, the University, and more.
      • National History Museum: See a replica of Skanderbeg's massive sword, priceless Roman antiquities, magnificent painted icons, Mother Theresa artifacts, and the chilling "Pavilion of Communist Terror."
      • The Block: Tour the trendy Blloku quarter; once the private domain of Communist big shots, now it's home to Tirana's most fashionable shops, cafes, clubs, even a rotating rooftop bar.

      Meeting point

      Please make your way to in front of the Albanian National History Museum at Sheshi Skenderbej 1, Tirana 1000 to meet your tour representative.

      Helpful hints

      In need of retail therapy after your tour? Shopping is available 7 days a week, although early closing at 3:00pm on Sundays is generally observed. Look for traditional Albanian souvenirs - embroidery, woolen items and Raki Skrapari, the local liquor.

      Getting around

      Expect a moderate amount of walking over flat and cobblestone terrain and about 100 steps to climb.

      Activity type

      Walking Tour, Cultural, Family Friendly.

      Languages

      English, German, French, Spanish, Italian

      Tour ID

      TR-EUR-ALB-TIRA-EN-1002

      Tour Participation Requirements

      Activity Level

      This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.

      Age restrictions

      Suitable for all ages.

      Special Medical Restriction

      Travelers must be in good health, disclose their physical fitness and advise any conditions that might impact their participation in the tour.

      The old and the brand-spanking-new are coming together at breakneck speed in Albania's fast-evolving capital city. You need look no further than the riotously painted apartment buildings that have transformed a sea of dismal Soviet-style residential blocks into a visual house party. They're the perfect symbol of this city's joie-de-vivre after 45 years of brutal isolation from the rest of the world.

      In the decades since freedom came to town, Tirana's famously friendly locals have re-learned how to get out and enjoy life. They've even taken over the off-limits neighborhood where their dictators once lived in isolation – turning Blokku into a happening scene full of French delicacies, the latest fashions, intimate parks, and the cafe life. Quite the metamorphosis.

      Included in this rebirth is a revival of the nation's more distant past. Tiranans recall it at Skanderbeg Square, named for the 15th-century Albanian superhero depicted in bronze (complete with cape) at its center. Astride his battle stallion and brandishing his mighty sword and goat's-head helmet, Skanderbeg is the undisputed symbol of Albania's fearless resistance and resilience.

      It's been a necessary quality. Over the centuries, Albania has had more than a few occupying cultures to resist – and at the National History Museum, you'll encounter artifacts from many of them. Its eight pavilions present everything from ancient Greek- and Roman-era treasures to objects from the Middle Ages, when Byzantines, Venetians Ottomans, and others traded control. Especially haunting is the recently opened exhibit where Albania's long 20th-century era of Communist prison camps and terror squads is frankly presented via film, document, and relic.

      After seeing that, the newborn freedom and exuberance you'll feel pulsing in the streets of Blloku will seem all the more understandable – and inspiring. 

      Mosque of the courageous

      Just off Skanderbeg Square, the 1821 Et'hem Bey Mosque is as powerful an expression of  Tirana's never-say-die character as any other. After a Communist Party atheism edict in 1967, virtually all religious buildings were destroyed; this one was spared as a cultural monument, but was off-limits to worshippers. In 1991, local Muslims reopened it without official permission, and some 10,000 people assembled here to pray. The police chose not to interfere, signaling a new era of religious freedom and the end of Albanian Communism.

      Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.

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      Tirana, Albania
      Great photo opportunities
      Bring money
      Bring photo ID
      Wear comfortable shoes
      Wear light clothing
      Wear Sunglasses
      Wear Hat

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      General disclaimer

      Your order is subject to TourTrek's Booking Ticket Agreement, including all TourTrek and GoBe policies incorporated therein.

      To book this tour for a large group, visit ourGROUPS PAGE for special discounted group rates