Photo © Arben Alliaj
Photo © Rajmonda Nelku
Photo © Roland Tasho
Photo © Roland Tasho
Photo © Andi Nallbani
Located at the crossroads of the eastern Adriatic, Albania is home to many unique natural and cultural wonders. One of the last undiscovered countries Europe has to explore.
Inspired by his 1809 equestrian tour of southern Albania, Lord Byron wrote in his epic poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage: “Land of Albania! Let me bend mine eyes on thee.” Potential tourists echoed Byron’s sentiments until the country emerged in 1990 from an isolating communist rule.
Small, mountainous, with pristine wilderness and several rivers, Albania showcases many natural attractions. Syri i Kaltër (Blue Eye), a deep, dark blue forest spring surrounded by light blue water, hosts emerald-green turtles, water-lilies, blue dragonflies and kingfishers. Rafting in the many canyons, cycling, hiking, and rural tourism attract tourists. With 362 kilometers (225 miles) of coastline along the Adriatic and Ionian seas and still-pristine beaches, Albania is a popular destination.
Cultural sites abound. The UNESCO World Heritage site features: in Berat, fourth-century archaeological remains, a 13th-century castle, Byzantine churches and Ottoman-era mosques; and, in Gjirokaster (Gjirokastër), in the Drinos (Drin) river valley, a rare, surviving Ottoman town with two-story houses and cobbled streets. Butrint, a port from Hellenistic to Ottoman times on the Straits of Corfu, is another UNESCO World Heritage site, where the Greco-Roman theater stages ancient dramas.
Memorable sounds include sheep bells, calls to Muslim and Christian prayers, and the ancient chant unique to Albania, still heard in cafes, which UNESCO proclaimed a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". Varied handicrafts and delicious traditional cuisine complete Albania’s attractions.
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