I only spent 48 hours in Albania, and it rained, heavily, for almost every minute of that time. That didn’t stop me from getting out and exploring though, and so my recollections of those two days based in Tirana consist largely of being very wet, and extremely confused.
Confused, because Tirana is quite unlike any city I have ever seen. From the palm trees, the mosques, the broad, sparse boulevards and exotic architectural styles, I might have guessed I’d arrived in some corner of the Arabic world. The people were darker too, and their language has virtually nothing in common with other European tongues. After the previous three weeks of quick-fire travel through the nations of former Yugoslavia, stepping over the border into Albania was severely disorientating.
What can you really learn about a country, from just 48 hours spent in its capital? Albania still feels like a mystery to me, though I understand now that it’s a place I need to revisit sometime, for longer – much longer. For now at least, here are my photographs from Tirana. I plan to write a full article to accompany them, an article that shares my first impressions, my confusion, and what I learned when I took a walk with a local historian through the waterlogged streets of the capital.
The Tirana Pyramid was originally intended as a mausoleum for communist leader Enver Hoxha, but now stands largely abandoned in the city centre.
A Greek Orthodox church in Tirana.
One of the many bunkers constructed across the country during the communist period.
The former home of President Enver Hoxha.
An exhibition of communist-era film posters, at the National Museum.