24 November 2014

Albania Opens Five-Storey Secret Bunker Built by Communists

A great attraction is added to Tirana, the capital of Albania. Visitors, but also Albanian themselves will be surprised to find out what was underneath the communism regime they lived and suffered. 
Work on the bunker, 100m (330ft) underground, was completed in 1978 but it was never used
A large secret bunker that Albania's communist regime built in the 1970s to survive a nuclear bomb has been opened to the public for the first time.
Then dictator Enver Hoxha wanted the bunker near the capital Tirana to guard against Soviet Union or US attacks.

Prime Minister Edi Rama showed several Western ambassadors around the 106-room, five-storey complex on Saturday.

"We have opened today a thesaurus of the collective memory that presents thousands of pieces of the sad events and life under communism," Mr Rama said in a speech in the bunker's 200-seat hall.
Hoxha's regime built up to 700,000 bunkers before he died in 1985. The communist regime was toppled in 1990.

How to get to Bunkart Museum: From Tirana International Hotel in the center of the capital take the bus with the logo of Bunkart. This service is free of charge for
Bunkart Opening hours: Everyday 9.00-16.00
Bunkart  Entry tickets: free of charge November -December 2014

Map of Bunkart  in Tirana

If you need any help arranging your trip to Tirana, Albania email us at: contact@albania-holidays.com

03 November 2014

Albanian UNESCO listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat

Albania has it all that you mention here unspoiled beaches, wild mountainous areas and lake shores, but above all it has its own unique culture. And the top of the list are these antique, in fact magical cities like Gjirokastra and Berat. Thank you Giulia, once again you nailed it.

Despite its beautiful nature and its rich cultural heritage, Albania is still not such a touristic destination: most of the time we were the only two foreigners enjoying unspoiled beaches, wild mountainous areas and lake shores. The only two times when we weren’t the only foreigners around –besides of course in the capital town Tirana- there were in the two UNESCO listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat. Both Gjirokastër and Berat are well-known for their ancient neighborhoods preserving historic Ottoman-era architectures, a style originated in Turkey between the 14th and 15th centuries and arrived in Albania during the 18th and 19th centuries, but that's not the only reason why I found them both very fascinating!

  The ancient town of Gjirokastër

In Gjirokastër you can spot tourists by the way they face Gjirokastër’s steep cobbled streets. 
For this time I was definitely not acting as a local by taking ant-steps and being constantly so terrified to slide that sitting in a bar was usually a huger consolation to my paranoid mood rather than to my feet. Locals –instead- do climb their streets as they were goats: old ladies more often than not overtook me, even if they were carrying their grocery; kids ran so fast up and down the alleys that I almost wanted to scream them to be careful. Streets are narrow and curvy, the town itself keeps climbing over the nearby mountain year after year and its urban plan, from above, looks like a maze. 

The ancient town of Berat

Old Berat is divided in two parts by the river Osumi and on those two banks there are the the two old neighborhoods of Mangalem and Gorica, both inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list to protect their old Ottoman typical houses. These ancient neighborhoods are characterized by picturesque cobbled alleys and houses with beautiful wooden structure, bright white walls and so many windows that Berat’s epithet is “city of a thousand windows”.

Read full article here: 

06 October 2014

Përmet and the Balkan side of Albania

Why should visit Permet city? Because nowadays claims to be the cleanest and greenest town in Albania according to blogger Giulia Blocal

By Giulia Blocal

Permet city is an authentic Balkan charm: Small houses with admirable vegetables gardens, elders chatting on a bench, locals gathering on the main street for the traditional xhiro, fresh and tasty fruits and vegetables not only in every restaurant but also on sale along the streets, unspoiled nature, evenings spent sipping a beer at the bar on the main square, home-made raki and an excellent local wine, rational communist architecture, groups of kids dominating the streets, several different religions coexisting, old vintage cars, decadent buildings, fresh mountain air and in general the warm, beautiful feeling of being lost into the Balkans... 

Read more this article for Permet city:

Korca and the hinterlands of South-Eastern #Albania

No doubt #Korca is one the most beautiful cities of Albania. Discover why Korca is so amazing, from the eyes of a tourist and blogger.
Thank you so much Giulia for this detailed astonishing description of Korca and #Pogradec's beauties.

By Giulia Blocal

If you would ask me which is the place I liked the most of the overall Albanian road-trip the answer is Korça.
The town of intellectuals, artists and poets really got me, and I wouldn’t mind to spend some time living there in the future. I would love it, actually!
A lot of Korça life is going on along those beautiful boulevards: vendors selling each kind of goods from cigarettes to socks and corns on the cob, elders playing dominoes, children running around with their gang (the leader of which –of course- has got a bicycle), youngsters showing off their new cars (which -more often than not- are Mercedes) and the whole town gathers along Korça boulevards at evening to take the traditional xhiro, meaning they stroll around stopping to chat & catch up when they meet someone they know. During our three days in Korça, the boulevards have been our favourite and most rewarding place to engage in some people-watching!

Read more:

23 September 2014

#Albania showed its model of religious coexistence and harmony to the world on #Pope 's visit

#Albania showed its model of religious coexistence and harmony to the world on #Pope 's visit to Tirana on 21 September 2014! God bless Albania!

Albanian Riviera- Travel off-the-beaten touristic path

This article discover some of the lesser known itineraries of Albanian Riviera, Hidden beaches, "abandoned" villages, but superb views and great food.  Thank you Giulia for your passionate writing! 

By Giulia Blocal

Our base to explore the Albanian Riviera was Himarë; we liked this small town so much that just after our first relaxing afternoon at Himarë beach we decided to revise my original travel plan in order to skip the more touristic area of Sarandë and let Himarë be the longest stop-over of our Albanian journey: a whopping 4 nights out of 13!
Of course we didn’t spend all four days lying down on Himarë beach (although Silvia would have loved that!) but we explored both the Northern part of the Albanian Riviera (and so Gjipe, Vuno and Jalë) and the Southern area too (Porto Palermo, Borsh and Qeparo).


26 August 2014

Family Tree of Languages, Albanian one of the oldest -New York Times

Albanian Language is among 3 oldest languages! What a great discovery! Albania is ancient, and we are proud of that. Thank New York Times for publishing the findings! 

Biologists using tools developed for drawing evolutionary family trees say that they have solved a longstanding problem in archaeology: the origin of the Indo-European family of languages. 

The family includes English and most other European languages, as well as Persian, Hindi and many others. Despite the importance of the languages, specialists have long disagreed about their origin.
Linguists believe that the first speakers of the mother tongue, known as proto-Indo-European, were chariot-driving pastoralists who burst out of their homeland on the steppes above the Black Sea about 4,000 years ago and conquered Europe and Asia. A rival theory holds that, to the contrary, the first Indo-European speakers were peaceable farmers in Anatolia, now Turkey, about 9,000 years ago, who disseminated their language by the hoe, not the sword.
The new entrant to the debate is an evolutionary biologist, Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He and colleagues have taken the existing vocabulary and geographical range of 103 Indo-European languages and computationally walked them back in time and place to their statistically most likely origin.
The result, they announced in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science, is that “we found decisive support for an Anatolian origin over a steppe origin.” Both the timing and the root of the tree of Indo-European languages “fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago,” they report.
But despite its advanced statistical methods, their study may not convince everyone.
The researchers started with a menu of vocabulary items that are known to be resistant to linguistic change, like pronouns, parts of the body and family relations, and compared them with the inferred ancestral word in proto-Indo-European. Words that have a clear line of descent from the same ancestral word are known as cognates. Thus “mother,” “mutter” (German), “mat’ ” (Russian), “madar” (Persian), “matka” (Polish) and “mater” (Latin) are all cognates derived from the proto-Indo-European word “mehter.”
Dr. Atkinson and his colleagues then scored each set of words on the vocabulary menu for the 103 languages. In languages where the word was a cognate, the researchers assigned it a score of 1; in those where the cognate had been replaced with an unrelated word, it was scored 0. Each language could thus be represented by a string of 1’s and 0’s, and the researchers could compute the most likely family tree showing the relationships among the 103 languages.
A computer was then supplied with known dates of language splits. Romanian and other Romance languages, for instance, started to diverge from Latin after A.D. 270, when Roman troops pulled back from the Roman province of Dacia. Applying those dates to a few branches in its tree, the computer was able to estimate dates for all the rest.
The computer was also given geographical information about the present range of each language and told to work out the likeliest pathways of distribution from an origin, given the probable family tree of descent. The calculation pointed to Anatolia, particularly a lozenge-shaped area in what is now southern Turkey, as the most plausible origin — a region that had also been proposed as the origin of Indo-European by the archaeologist Colin Renfrew, in 1987, because it was the source from which agriculture spread to Europe.
Dr. Atkinson’s work has integrated a large amount of information with a computational method that has proved successful in evolutionary studies. But his results may not sway supporters of the rival theory, who believe the Indo-European languages were spread some 5,000 years later by warlike pastoralists who conquered Europe and India from the Black Sea steppe.
A key piece of their evidence is that proto-Indo-European had a vocabulary for chariots and wagons that included words for “wheel,” “axle,” “harness-pole” and “to go or convey in a vehicle.” These words have numerous descendants in the Indo-European daughter languages. So Indo-European itself cannot have fragmented into those daughter languages, historical linguists argue, before the invention of chariots and wagons, the earliest known examples of which date to 3500 B.C. This would rule out any connection between Indo-European and the spread of agriculture from Anatolia, which occurred much earlier.
“I see the wheeled-vehicle evidence as a trump card over any evolutionary tree,” said David Anthony, an archaeologist at Hartwick College who studies Indo-European origins.