10. A Walking Tour of Tirana, OR exploring the City's Museums.
Widely known for its contemporary 'Dolce Vita' atmosphere of cafes and restaurants, Albania's capital city of Tirana is like no other Balkan capital cities. Following its recent rapid transformation, it now vividly showcases iconic high-rise architecture and redesigned public spaces, created by renowned architects whose work attracts international attention and is winning awards worldwide. Manifesting Albania's delayed capitalism is the unprecedented construction boom that also embodies the quality of the designs and professional finesse of the ultramodern Belgian and Dutch architects, much like the Austrian and Italian architects who a century ago transformed Tirana from an oriental town into a western city. We will meet at the designated hour in front of the Tirana International hotel. Our half day walking tour will start at the very heart of the city's Monumental Center, where we will observe the strong differences between the overbearing communist buildings of the Palace of Culture and the National History Museum, versus the Italian governmental buildings of the 1920s by the Italian architect Armando Brasini. As we will walk by the statue of Albania's national hero Skenderbeg, we will initially head to the Et’hem Bey Mosque and the Watch Tower - reminders of Tirana's 17th and 19th centuries expansion, and later its twentieth century turbulent history. Prior to exploring what remains of Tirana’s historic heart - the old bazaar, we will have a chance to walk on by the newly reopened Toptani castle, and the stone Tanner's Bridge. We will have a quick stop at the repurposed Pyramid, and visit the Blloku area, along with the dictator's Enver Hoxha villa. Afterwards we can enjoy some time together in a fashionable Blloku cafe to address any additional questions about our history, the local restaurants, customs, or other things of interest you may have while in Albania. OPTION(s) - AM vs PM tour: Be it day or night, Tirana is beautiful in its chaotic and lively energy. In our AM tour there's a yummy coffee or cappuccino that awaits you. On the PM tour we will go to a bar to taste a cocktail at the end of it. OPTIONAL: Museum tour (Tuesday through Saturday only) While many of our art institutions are being reconstructed due to the horrible November 26th, 2019 earthquake, our Tirana's MUSEUM TOUR - available until October 15th, 2023, Tuesdays through Saturdays, is the most unique. Designed as a walking tour with a professional and experienced guide, it presents three diverse museums of our capital city: The National History Museum, Albania's Nobel nominee "Ismail Kadare Studio Museum", and The Sali Shijaku House - showcasing the oeuvre of one of our most celebrated painters in his 300 years old house. It will be our pleasure to enhance your knowledge and share with you these treasures of Albanian culture.