13 January 2020

Berat city, among 10 spiritual places on Earth with the strongest energy field

Berat city is not only known as a beautiful white city, property of UNESCO, but also for good people and hospitality. A new ranking has listed Berat as one of 10 best spiritual places in earth with strongest energy field.  "There are places in the world where you can feel the connection with the divine – one of them is Rila Lake, famous for its powerful energy field. Sensitive people dream of strange things when they spend the night in that place. Such places can give you answers to questions that have been troublesome for you and you can feel concentrated energy on a higher spiritual level" says the article published by "Behind the Illusion" media where Berat city in Albania is number 7. 

Here is what is written for Berat city:  

Berat is a pride of Albanian architecture. The old town is under the protection of UNESCO. Berat represents a wonderful blend of eastern and western culture, traditions and customs. The city is the treasury of Albanian history and the evidence of harmony between faith and culture.
In Berat, people have a very powerful, spiritual energy of healing. Today, behind the city walls there are still people who do not believe in illness, making this place unique and authentic.


The original Article

10 spiritual places on Earth with the strongest energy field
1. Rila – Bulgaria

Some people might be surprised but this mountain range is one of the strongest energy centers in the world.
It is no accident that he was one of the greatest spiritual masters of the 20th century – Beinsa Duno chose this place to transmit his wisdom.

The area around Rila Lake actually has a very strong energy and sensitive people feel it, and they get strange dreams when they stay in that area.

2. Machu Picchu in Peru

The lost city of Inka is one of the places connected with the energy centers in the world. The Inks were built by Machu Picchu in a specific place, high up in the Andes.
This place channels energy and enables people to experience something that simply does not belong to our world.

3. Socotra

Socotra is an archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean on the Africa Row. The largest makes about 95 percent of the land.

Its specific landscape as well as the flora and fauna seem to come from a science fiction film and you can easily imagine being on another planet or in prehistoric times.
As a result of isolation, many species of Socotra have been born that are not found elsewhere in the world.
Spiritual energy here connects the human soul directly with the universe.

4. Plato Uluru in Australia
Uluru is the spiritual center of Australia and is in the very center of the continental country. Legends say it is a plateau hollow and it is a source of energy, called Tiukurpa.
The ancient tribes surrounding the plateau have left many painted stories in some of the caves in the area.
In the tribes, the conviction that when a person circles around the plateau, she then receives spiritual visions.

5. Easter Island

This is one of the most isolated places in the world, known for its fascinating stone giants – “moai”, rising everywhere along the rocky shore. Scientists have absolutely no answer to the question “Who made them and how?”, The whole place is a complete stranger.

The whole island is the tip of a large volcano that rises from the ocean floor. The ancient peoples have also called “The belly button of the world” – in the local language known as Te Pito O Te Henu, while the name Rapa Nui prevails today. The second indigenous name for the island is Mata who you rank (“The eyes that look at the sky”).

For “The belly button of the World” is believed to collect the most important spiritual energy of the Earth.
6 Belintash Plato

Belintash Plato is one of the three points (Belintash – Cross Forest – Karadjov Stone), which is one of the strongest energy zones in Europe.
In the area around Belintasha, there is strong energy on it, and hundreds of people testify to frequent paranormal phenomena.

7. Berat

Berat is a pride of Albanian architecture. The old town is under the protection of UNESCO. Berat represents a wonderful blend of eastern and western culture, traditions and customs. The city is the treasury of Albanian history and the evidence of harmony between faith and culture.

In Berat, people have a very powerful, spiritual energy of healing. Today, behind the city walls there are still people who do not believe in illness, making this place unique and authentic.

8. Stonehenge
Stonehenge is the most famous megalithic monument in the world, probably devoted to the Sun, about 5,000 years old. It is located in the center of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, UK.

It is known for its huge stone blocks arranged in the circle. He still does not know with certainty what Stoneheng’s purpose is, but many scientists believe the monument was used as a ceremonial or religious center.
According to one theory Stonehenge is an ancient cemetery.

9. Bosnian Pyramids

The Bosnian Pyramids are not far from the city of Visoko, and according to the latest research, they date from far beyond the biblical past. The largest pyramid is the Pyramid of the Sun and is the first of its kind in Europe, while the Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Bosnian Dragon is considerably less.
Under the pyramids three underground rooms and a little blue lake were found. The lake contains clean, sterile water, without bacteria, algae, fungi, microorganisms, animals, mosses and mud. They are called living water because it cleanses the body.

This means that these objects are actually “healing rooms”. The human body regenerates faster and the disease disappears.

10. Mount Kailash on Tibet

Kailash Mountain is the most divine place of the four religions that originate from that part of Asia, namely Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and the Old Buddhist Religion of Tibet – Bongo.

All these religions have their own legends about this place but are united in the claim that the mountain of the gods is a home of the gods and one of the energy centers in the world where they climb to bring them spiritual bliss.

08 January 2020

Where to go in 2020: an insiders’ guide - Albania is in the list!


Albania is listed by Financial Times as an excellent destination to visit in 2020.

“Montenegro was the star of 2019 but the whole region is on the rise,” says Jonny Bealby of Wild Frontiers, who reports bookings for 2020 up 15 per cent compared with the same point a year ago.

“Visitors are drawn to the mountains, canyons and rivers, the sparkling coastline, ancient towns, Greek and Roman ruins, Ottoman citadels and rural hospitality.”

Trekkers are finding the Accursed Mountains in the north of the country — off limits during the country’s years of communist isolationism and during the Kosovo war — offer an alternative to the Alps with almost no-tourist development.

Meanwhile, historical tours are taking growing numbers beyond the Unesco World Heritage site of Butrint to explore the numerous Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman sites throughout the country.


Read the full article here

Where to go in 2020: an insiders’ guide


By Financial times

1 Armenia

Georgia has enjoyed soaring visitor numbers, and a string of new airline routes, since it was tipped in the equivalent of this article two years ago. Visits by international tourists during the first 11 months of 2019 were up 19.4 per cent compared with the same period in 2017. Meanwhile its southern neighbour Armenia has remained relatively off the radar — attracting fewer than a quarter of Georgia’s visitor numbers — though that now seems to be on the verge of change.
Four members of our panel picked Armenia as one to watch in 2020 (Wild Frontiers says its forward bookings are up 100 per cent compared with a year go) and the country will get its first low-cost airline links with western Europe. Ryanair, Wizz and Air Baltic are all due to launch flights, connecting the capital Yerevan with cities including Milan, Rome, Berlin and Vienna. The main draw for visitors is the country’s extraordinary collection of medieval monasteries and churches, many of them set among dramatic mountains. Geghard monastery, for example, was cut into the rock of the Upper Azat valley and was completed in the 13th century. It is now a Unesco world heritage site, as are the monasteries at Haghpat and Sanahin.
But Yerevan and the wine-lands are also fascinating. “Yerevan is one of the region’s most exuberant and endearing cities,” says Justin Wateridge of Steppes Travel. “Both country and capital are an unexpected delight that you need to discover before the secret gets out.”
Tom Marchant of Black Tomato recommends the newly opened Alexander hotel in Yerevan, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, as well as stopping for a degustation at the Ararat Brandy Company.

2 Chad

For travellers who really want to get off the beaten track, Chad is ideal. More than five times the size of the UK, the entire country gets fewer visitors in a year than Tate Modern gets in a week. And that is despite glorious desert and mountain scenery, fascinating ancient rock art and the closest “big five” safari park to Europe.
The bad news is that there is a reason for such a dearth of visitors: the UK Foreign Office advises against “all but essential” travel to most of the country, and “all travel” to the rest, highlighting the potential risk of crime and terrorism; the US State Department suggests potential visitors “reconsider”.
Despite that, several tour operators tip it as a rising destination for the coming year, a recommendation that is largely down to the work of African Parks, a South African-based non-profit conservation organisation. In 2010 it was invited by the Chadian government to sign a long-term agreement to manage Zakouma National Park, a 1,200 sq mile park in the south-east of the country that had been ransacked by horseback-riding poaching gangs.
With the help of EU funding, African Parks restored security (elephant deaths fell from 4,000 in the eight years to 2010, to just 24 since then), opened 17 schools and created employment at the three tourist camps.
In 2017, the government put an expanded area around the park into African Parks control, then in February 2018 the organisation was given responsibility for the Ennedi Natural and Cultural Reserve, a 15,500 sq mile expanse of sandstone mountains in the north of the country, filled with dramatic canyons, cliffs and arches as well as rock art that dates back 7,000 years. “Declared a World Heritage Site in 2016, the Ennedi is a vast wilderness with a savage beauty,” says Will Jones of Journeys By Design.

3  UK

Britain may be preparing to leave the EU, but the British national tourism agency is predicting a record year in 2020. Visit Britain says international tourist numbers will hit 39.7m, the highest ever and almost 5 per cent up on 2018. Particularly important to the growth are emerging tourism markets in the east — Visit Britain’s data shows flight bookings to the UK for the first half of the year are up 33 per cent from China, and 22 per cent from south Asia. 
While the reduced value of sterling has helped make the UK cheaper, the big draw this year is likely to be the country’s literary and artistic heritage. 2020 is the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth (marked by a £6.2m project to expand the museum at his former home, Dove Cottage at Grasmere in the Lake District) and the 150th anniversary of Charles Dicken’s death (with a five-day festival in Rochester among many others). Meanwhile the lack of a significant anniversary does not seem to have deterred Jane Austen fans: a 10-day festival is planned in Bath in September, there is a nine-day festival in Hampshire in June, and yet another film version of Emma is due for release in February, starring Anya Taylor-Joy and a string of fabulous stately homes.

4 Norway

A growing awareness of climate change has brought the Arctic regions to the forefront of many minds. On one hand, the vulnerability of the ice caps, wildlife and traditional ways of life inspires an increasingly emotional reaction — the endangered glaciers pitied in the same way as the elephants and rhinos of east Africa. On the other, in a warming world, spending a summer holiday somewhere cold rather than hot seems increasingly attractive.
Above all, the Arctic has become so much more visible: consider, for example, that in 48 hours over Christmas, the BBC’s output included radio broadcasts from Greenland and Iceland, a two-hour “slow TV” programme following a Sami sleigh ride through Arctic Norway, and a film about the disappearing skills of the Inuit, “an elegy to the world that is melting away”.
Even Hollywood is leveraging the appeal of the north: Disney’s new children’s movie Frozen 2 draws heavily on Sami culture, myths and landscapes while the forthcoming James Bond movie No Time to Die, out in April, includes snowy sequences filmed in Norway.
While countries across the north are experiencing growing visitor numbers, Norway is especially well placed to benefit, with infrastructure that makes it straightforward to reach the Arctic, and an abundance of fjords, mountains and islands. Set among them are a growing number of landmark architectural projects by the Oslo-based practice Snohetta, a master at creating buildings that manage to be both appropriate to the stark beauty of their surroundings as well as catnip for social media.
Among them are Europe’s first underwater restaurant, launched in March 2019, the National Opera house in Oslo, a remote pavilion for watching passing reindeer at Hjerkinn, and the forthcoming Svart, a circular hotel just above the Arctic Circle, which isn’t due to open until 2022 but is already generating a buzz.
“Interest in all things Nordic continues to grow,” says Georgina Hancock at Discover the World, who tips Senja Island, to the west of Tromso, as “a quieter, under-explored alternative to the well-trodden Lofoten Islands”.
At Red Savannah, George Morgan-Grenville reports forward bookings for Norway up 33 per cent compared with this point a year ago. Both agree about the appeal of Svalbard, which in 2020 marks 100 years of Norwegian sovereignty, and offers the chance to visit the world’s northernmost city, school, museum, piano and much more. “Nowhere is more wild,” says Morgan-Grenville.


5 Turkey

Tourism in Turkey collapsed in 2015 and 2016 in response to terrorist attacks and political instability, with visitor numbers falling almost 40 per cent. Those security fears have now eased, and tourist numbers are rebounding — helped by a significant devaluation of the lira (a euro currently buys about 6.6 Turkish lira, up from about 2 lira a decade ago).
That exchange rate has made citybreaks more affordable in Istanbul, with its constantly expanding roster of luxury hotels. Recent additions include Sofitel on Taksim square, which opened in November complete with 33 Hermés-designed suites) and the Six Senses Kocataş Mansions, which soft-launched the same month, housed in two 19th-century mansions and with far-reaching views over the Bosphorus. The longer term trend, however, is for adventure-seeking tourists to look beyond Istanbul and the Mediterranean seaside resorts. Steppes highlight the move of the World Nomad Games this year from a remote yurt village in Kyrgyzstan to the Turkish city of Bursa, making it far easier for international visitors to watch events including kok-boru, a sort of central Asian equivalent of rugby, with competitors on horseback and a headless goat in place of a ball (the date for the event has yet to be announced).  
In the far east, the ancient archaeological sites of Upper Mesopotamia are attracting growing interest, with numerous operators offering expert-led group tours. Meanwhile skiers in search of perfect powder and a complete absence of crowds are travelling to Turkey Heliski’s base in Ayder, close to the south-eastern shore of the Black Sea, where visitors this winter are expected to include the star Swiss free-rider Sam Anthamatten.

6 Japan

Data from eDreams ODIGEO, which claims to be Europe’s biggest online travel agency, suggests a surge in the number of European travellers heading to Tokyo in 2020. Across its various websites, forward bookings are up 90 per cent compared with the same period a year ago. There is one obvious reason: the Olympics and Paralympics, due to take place in late July and early August. Some estimates suggest the Games might attract an additional 10m visitors, and there has been a rush of hotel openings in expectation.
Tourism in the country is already soaring: 31.2m foreign travellers visited in 2018, up from 8.6m in 2010. In 2016 the government set a target of reaching 40m visitors by 2020, and 60m by 2030. The downside has been the concentration of visitors in the honeypot sites of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, something the national tourist office has tried to counter with publicity campaigns promoting lesser-known regions, and which should be helped by new flight routes including, for example, Finnair’s direct service to Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, which launched last month.
“Quite apart from the Olympics, Japan is increasingly on the radar of those seeking alternative, experiential travel and a completely unhomogenised cultural identity,” says George Morgan-Grenville of Red Savannah. He suggests 2020 hotspots will include the Samurai districts of Kanazawa, the scenic coastline of Noto, and the art museums of Naoshima Island.

7 Uruguay

“Uruguay has always been considered a seasonal destination, but is just as special outside the December/January rush,” says Harry Hastings of Plan South America. “It’s ideal for ‘slow travel’, with cycling and riding trips through olive groves, vineyards, fishing villages and the open farmland of the south, stopping for sea swims, picnics, wine tasting and visits to artists’ studios.”
Home to fewer than 3.5m people, the country has long been in the shadow of its neighbours, Brazil and Argentina, with only the sceney seaside resorts of Punta del Este and José Ignacio attracting much international attention, and even then only in summer.
Now, though, small numbers of visitors are beginning to look beyond those hotspots, to the remote beaches of Rocha state, the surfer hang-out of La Pedrera, the old Portuguese city of Colonia del Sacramento and sleepy Carmelo, surrounded by vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms and known by some as South America’s answer to Tuscany.
Visitors should explore rich, full-bodied reds made with Tannat grapes, produced from vines descended from cuttings across the Atlantic in the 19th century before phylloxera devastated the originals in southern France.
The journey I’m really excited about next summer is a road trip from Alaska to California. I’ll be in Alaska in August giving a talk on board the QE2 and I’ve given myself a couple of weeks in between jobs to travel down the west coast of Canada and the US to San Francisco before I head to the Burning Man festival with some friends.
I’ve been to California before, but never seen the rest of the west coast so I’m looking forward to exploring, particularly Oregon and the Rockies and seeing Mount Washington in the flesh, spotting bears and experiencing some real wilderness.

8 Dominica
The mountainous Caribbean island has staged a remarkable recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, while promotional campaigns billing it as “the nature island” seem more in tune with the times than some of its glitzier neighbors.
Rather than white sands and smart restaurants, the draw here is the pristine rainforests, remote mountain gorges and waterfalls. The tourist board is keen to distinguish it as a place for adventure travellers and in particular as a place for hiking: the country is home to the longest walking route in the Caribbean, the 185km Waitukubuli trail and a system of free “hike passports” was introduced in 2019 for visitors to record their walks.
The government has been working to restore trails damaged in the hurricane, while also introducing a string of environmental policies (plastic straws and cutlery were banned last year; plastic bags are due to be banned outright in 2020).
While eco-tourism remains the focus, the accommodation options are moving increasingly upmarket. Secret Bay, a glorious clifftop retreat that closed when the hurricane struck, reopened in November 2018 with major upgrades. It now comprises six villas built from sustainably sourced tropical hardwood, each of which has a private plunge pool and sea-views from the covered terraces.
The Kempinski group’s Cabrits Resort, a five-star beach hotel surrounded by the tropical forest of Cabrits National Park, opened in October 2019 while the Anichi Resort, part of Marriott’s Autograph collection, is due to open in 2020.

9 Albania

“Montenegro was the star of 2019 but the whole region is on the rise,” says Jonny Bealby of Wild Frontiers, who reports bookings for 2020 up 15 per cent compared with the same point a year ago. “Visitors are drawn to the mountains, canyons and rivers, the sparkling coastline, ancient towns, Greek and Roman ruins, Ottoman citadels and rural hospitality.”
Trekkers are finding the Accursed Mountains in the north of the country — off limits during the country’s years of communist isolationism and during the Kosovo war — offer an alternative to the Alps with almost no-tourist development. 
Meanwhile, historical tours are taking growing numbers beyond the Unesco World Heritage site of Butrint to explore the numerous Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman sites throughout the country.
And, on a totally different note, the Kala music festival, a week-long seaside party on the southern coast at Dhërmi, is putting Albania on the map for young travellers, in the same way events such as the Garden, Outlook and Sonus festivals did for Croatia. It is a measure of the Albanian authorities’ enthusiasm for tourism that prime minister Edi Rama attended the first Kala festival in 2018. “People think of it as a place where you get robbed or killed,” Rama told a poolside press conference, The Guardian reported. “But the stigma has helped us. When someone visits and gets out alive, they realise it’s paradise!” The figures appear to back him up: foreign visitor numbers for the first 11 months of 2019 topped 6.1m, up 8.3 per cent on the same period in 2018, and up from 1.9m for the full year of 2009.

Read more >>> Financial Times   

20 December 2019

Albania Holidays and its overseas partners contribute in earthquake relief


On November 26, Albania was rocked by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, killing 51 people, and leaving thousands with homes destroyed and uninhabitable. Homes, schools, hospitals, churches were destroyed or severely damaged.
Albania Holidays apart from donating direct relief funds did also raise awareness among its partners throughout the world. Grand Circle Corporation and Overseas Adventure Travel reacted with lightning speed and through their Grand Circle Foundation made clear their willingness to help.

In less than 48 hours they dispatched to Albania their Director of Corporate Air Travel and Contracting Mr. Josif Goga, who is originally from Albania. In Albania he meet with our team and together we started to plan where we can put the relief funds. 

Josif stated” Upon arrival, I realized that the situation was way worse that I could have ever imagined. All these families left with nothing but their clothes on their back and a plastic tent to live in. The amount of misery was indescribable and beyond any stretch of my imagination. Families living in the cold, humid tents, with rain water running underneath their beds, and mud everywhere they stepped on”

So, together we went over several options on how we could help these people. Food and tents were already being provided by the neighboring countries (Italy and Turkey).We decided that the best help we could offer, was providing wood stoves, as the winter had arrived and these families had no heat in their tents, and no means to cook.

The local authorities were very responsive (surprisingly) in providing the names and addresses of families who were affected the most and with no means to provide for their kids.

With the funds put together we purchased 35 wood stoves, including the accessories that come with them, and delivered them ourselves to these people in their tents. The combined feeling of joy and desperation in their eyes was a very touching moment. These people had been already living in the tents for weeks, and these stoves we provided a much-needed ray of hope in these people’s eyes, and through them, it warmed our hearts as well.

In total, we helped 35 families (almost 200 people) keep warm this winter. Gratitude to our partners Grand Circle Corporation and everyone else involved.

19 December 2019

21 Reasons You Need To Visit Albania Before It Becomes Super Popular

Albania continues to attract more and more tourists who are enchanted by its beauty, natural and cultural diversity and richness.

Jemima Skelley - contributor to BuzzFeed portal, has expressed her impressions in an article where she states 21 reasons why one should visit Albania:

"Located in southern Europe, just across the sea from Italy, it's south of Croatia and north of Greece. And guys, it's truly the best place you could ever go on holiday.

Albania is currently in the process of trying to join the EU, and is investing more and more money in tourism. So you better visit before it becomes too trendy and packed with people!

There aren't even words to describe how welcoming Albanians are. Walking into shops will inevitably end in a 10-minute chat with the shopkeeper, and waiters and bartenders will sit with you and talk all night. Every local wants to make sure travelers are having a good time in their country, and will bend over backwards to help you out. " Read the full article here




11 September 2019

Great and Small Prespa lake - Immerse yourself in the world's loveliest lakes


Joe Minihane from Daily Mail UK mentioned Great and Small Prespa lake in his recent article, as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world that he recommends to visit.




His choice felt on the chosen lakes of the world while making his boat trips  - lakes where he felt the calm of the water married with the dramatic background of mountains or beaches.

"Great and Small Prespa lake, with banks in Albania, North Macedonia, and Greece, are among Europe's most tectonic lakes at one million years old, which offer the chance for a truly idyllic, off-the-beaten-path escape. The area of wetlands is a mecca for birdwatchers. Cormorants and herons are easy to spot, as it is the huge Dalmatian pelican.

Visitors to Great Prespa should take a traditional boat, called a place, out on the moody water, with the mountains of the Balkans glowering overhead."

Read full article here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-7440871/Immerse-worlds-loveliest-lakes.html?fbclid=IwAR22Fj-McaZ02D5LyiIZZWsriXcQm1lVBS5nlqXjuuZzJwVcGo-ZrMNhcDM  

06 March 2019

In Albania, a unique Jewish history museum on the brink

The Times of Israel, in its 4 March 2019 edition presented an important historical fact about Albania as the only Nazi-occupied territory whose Jewish population increased during World War II, thanks to the bravery of ordinary families who harbored hundreds of refugees fleeing persecution during the Holocaust. 
A man walks through Hebrew Street in the Albanian city of Berat on February 6, 2019. (Gent Shkullaku/AFP)

The tiny Solomon Museum, which opened in the city of Berat last year is the symbol of this historical remembrance.

BERAT, Albania (AFP) — On a sloped, cobblestone street in southern Albania sits a small shop, empty except for a dozen framed panels on the walls bearing photos and stories from 500 years of Jewish life.
It may be modest but this is Muslim-majority Albania’s only Jewish history museum.

And the story it tells is exceptional: the Balkan state is the only Nazi-occupied territory whose Jewish population increased during World War II, thanks to the bravery of ordinary families who harbored hundreds of refugees fleeing persecution during the Holocaust.

The tiny Solomon Museum, which opened in the city of Berat last year, was a labor of love for local historian Simon Vrusho.

But his death last month at age 75 has put its future at risk, with rent only paid through April.
Until now he had covered the museum’s costs with his pension and small donations from a box by the door. 
Simon Vrusho, 75, the founder of the Solomon Jewish history museum in the Albanian city of Berat, speaks with an AFP journalist on February 6, 2019. (Gent Shkullaku/AFP)

“Memories need to have their own home,” Vrusho, a wiry man with warm eyes, told AFP, shortly before he died following a heart attack in February.

He spent years harvesting documents, photos and memories bearing witness to a Jewish community that first arrived in Berat in the 16th century from Spain.

At the center of the collection are the stories of Muslim and Christian Albanians who sheltered Jews in their homes and basements during the Holocaust — a chapter of history that has only recently become more widely known.

When Germans took control of Albania in 1943, local authorities also refused to hand over lists of Jews inside the country.

Thanks to these quiet acts of heroism, the country’s Jewish population surged from several hundred before the war to more than 2,000 afterwards.

And, according to Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, “almost all Jews living within Albanian borders during the German occupation… were saved, except members of a single family,” who were deported and all died except for the father.

Another family was also deported and survived.
Code of honor
When asked to explain this history, Albanians will say it lies in “Besa” — a cultural code of honor to “keep the promise” at any cost.

There is also a rich history of religious tolerance in a country with a tapestry of different faiths, visible in Berat where a church and mosque face each other on the same square.

Inside the museum, Nezir Ago, a 40-year-old artist, points to a faded photo of an elderly man.

“This is my grandfather,” he says, explaining that the Muslim baker took in a Jewish family of three in the early 1940s.
“He did not know them before… or have an obligation to shelter them,” he adds.

Nazir Ago, curator of the Solomon Jewish history museum in the Albanian city of Berat, in the museum on February 6, 2019. (Gent Shkullaku/AFP)

The photo sits alongside several dozen others from the more than 60 families in Berat who rescued Jews, making the city a hub for refugees during the war.

A list of some 600 names of those rescued identifies the European countries they hailed from — many from Balkan cities like Belgrade or Pristina, where Jews were brutally exterminated by Nazi-allied powers.

The Albanian families who took them in were “Christian and Muslim, rich and poor,” says a caption taped to the wall.

They were “deeply, unimaginably humane” people, recalled Vrusho, an Orthodox Christian who spent years interviewing Berat elders for their stories.
Bread, pain and joy

Today, Albania’s Jewish population is nearly nonexistent, with fewer than 100 living mostly in Tirana.

After World War II, Albania fell into the clutches of a communist dictatorship that barred religion.

When the regime collapsed in 1991, many of the remaining Jewish community left for Israel.

Marilena Langu Dojaka, 77, is one of those who stayed.

“We are not yet free of our fears,” she says, of the terror that has stuck with her decades later.

She was born in Albania in 1942 after her mother fled there from then-Czechoslovakia.

They found refuge with a family in the northern town of Mat.

“When the Nazis passed through the village… our host family hid us in the mountains, in a cellar until the danger had passed,” she told AFP, welling with emotion.

Marilena Langu Dojaka, 77, whose mother Hermina Stein came from Czechoslovakia to Albania in 1939, speaks with AFP on February 6, 2019. (Gent Shkullaku/AFP)

lutching a framed photo of relatives her mother left behind, she says softly: “They all died in the camps.”

Dojaka has kept close ties with the Albanian family who protected hers.

“They shared everything with us: bread, pain and joy.”
Recognition

It wasn’t until after the fall of communism that the stories of the role played by Albanians in protecting Jews came to light.

Today some 75 Albanians are recognized as part of the Righteous Among The Nations — those who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The history is a growing source of pride in Albania, where the government holds annual events on Holocaust Remembrance Day and devotes an exhibit to the history in Tirana’s national museum.

But Vrusho’s museum is the only standalone center dedicated to the sweep of Jewish history in that corner of Southeastern Europe.

Since it opened in May 2018, there have been several thousand visitors from around the world.

If he had more means, Vrusho said he would have opened a museum “double the size.”

Now, his widow Angjlina says she is “very worried about the museum’s fate.”

“It took him a lifetime,” she said through tears.


05 March 2019

6 reasons to vacation in Albania, and the best travel tips!


The Khan365 Celebrity New & Headlines portal brings 6 compelling reasons of why visiting Albania. There are good hints on the main tourist attractions not to miss while visiting Albania.

Image: Khan365


1. Tirana – the humming capital

Albania’s capital, is colorful (in the last few decades has painted a lot of paint on the old facades), beautiful Tirana. But that is no reason to spend a few days in the 400’000 people city. Anyone interested in the dubious beauty of fascist buildings and housing estates, here you can find a lot of things. Tirana excited but rather, by his energetic Groove, many students provide the greatest night life in the Region.

Who is already there, should also enjoy the Café culture in the country has a long Tradition. In the city’s many cozy cafes that offer in addition, yet delicious cupcakes.

tip: In Albania were built from the 60s-years, an estimated 200’000 Bunker – dictator Enver Hoxha was afraid of attacks from the West as from the East. In Tirana, the BunkArt Museum that tells the history of the country in the redesigned bunkers was built a few years ago.

2. The Albanian Riviera

Reasons to visit the Eastern European country, there are many – the dream beaches of the Albanian Riviera are one of them. The southern part of the coast is not compromised in vain with more well-known regions in France or Italy. The big difference, though: Albania’s southern coast is still as good as undeveloped. Who grabs a rental car, you can find beaches at the steep coast that bear the name “secret tip” to the right.

Tourist center of the South, the port city of Saranda, which is attended mostly by Albanians for their Beach holidays. Not in the mood for other tourists? Here one shares the beach with the Locals. Saranda is a stone’s throw from the Greek island of Kos – a day trip over to the island, so no Problem.

Very nice also the resort of Ksamil, with its secluded Bay.

3. Butrint: A look into the history of

With its location between Greece and Italy, this small country has seen in the course of its long history, many men – and all have left their traces. A kaleidoscope of the varied history, shows the Peninsula of Butrint in the South of the country, which was declared in 1992 to the Unesco world heritage site. To see there are temples, streets, theatres and churches of the ancient Greeks, the Romans, early Christians and Ottomans. One should not miss the archaeological Museum where you can admire the best archaeological finds of the Peninsula.

4. The Albanian Alps

The mountains in the North of the country is also known as the Albanian Alps. The peaks reach only to just below the 3000 Meter mark, the valleys, the mountains with its green and dense forests is still a piece of jewelry. Fittingly, the Albanian Name translates as “the Enchanted mountains”. Since it is almost a matter of course, that lynx, wolves and bears sneak through the bushes and an eagle to the summit circles. The mountains away from the tourist paths is a Paradise for Hiking and rafting.

5. Gjirokaster – the city of stones

The southern Albanian Gjirokaster is also suitable “town of the stones way”. The houses in the mountain town (20’000 inhabitants) were built from the local grey stone, even the roofs are covered. In the old town, about 600 buildings from the time of the Ottomans (15. to 19. Century) and, therefore, Gjirokaster, 2005, was a Unesco world heritage site. Some of the beautifully decorated houses can be visited, such as the opulent “Zekate House”, which towers over the old town. See also mosques and places of retreat (Tekken) of the Islamic Sufi order.

A special attraction is the Bunker from the time of the Cold war. The 80 rooms were designed for up to 300 people.

6. Berat – 1001 window

A world heritage site! Albania has historically a lot to offer – as the city of Berat, which is also a testimony of the Ottoman rule. The Nickname “city of 1000 Windows” was awarded the 60 000 inhabitants of the municipality by the characteristic houses with their many-to-ceiling Windows. A Must when visiting the castle district and the Muslim Mangal district with its impressive mosques.


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