Albanian Monuments

Albanian Monuments
Albania is a country rich in natural beauty and history. With an extensive coastline running along the Adriatic and Ionian seas, large forests and parks, and rugged mountain ranges, this ancient land has much to attract the adventurous. The country also has a long and fascinating history. "The Land of the Eagles," as the country is known to its residents, was first settled by the Illyrians in antiquity. It has since known the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Romans and the Ottomans until finally achieving independence in 1912. Albania's tumultuous political past has been partially chronicled in the many monuments scattered throughout the country.

Skanderbeg Monument, Kruja

The statue of an armored Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg astride a rearing battle charger rises from a pedestal in the Albanian city of Kruja. The rocky, mountainous backdrop of the statue's location fits the turbulent history of this national hero. Called the "Dragon of Albania," Skanderbeg, the son of an Albanian ruler, was forced under the Janissary system to become a soldier for the Ottoman Empire. The young man excelled in his profession and eventually was promoted to vali, or general governor. However, Skanderbeg was always at heart an Albanian and seized the chance to revolt against the Empire in 1443. Under his family's flag of the double-headed eagle, he led a much-heralded resistance against the Ottomans until his death from malaria in 1468. Skanderbeg's eagle symbol was later to grace the official flag of Albania. The monument in Kruja is the first one dedicated to Skanderbeg in Albania, although there is another popular one in the capital city of Tirana. After visiting the monument, lovers of the outdoors can take advantage of the many activities available in nearby Mount Dajti National Park.

Mother of Albania Monument, Tirana

Rising majestically for 12 meters over the graves of approximately 28,000 Albanian partisans, the Mother of Albania monument in the capital city of Tirana memorializes the sacrifice of the country's World War II dead. Located in the Martyrs of the Nation cemetery, the tan statue made of granulated stone depicts an Albanian woman raising her right arm upward to hold the symbols of a star and laurel leaves in her hand. Tirana is also not far from the Mount Dajti National Park, where visitors can enjoy a gentle hike up the mountain, among other recreational activities.

Monument of Independence, Vlora

The city of Vlora is located in the southwestern portion of Albania, resting on a bay overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The Monument of Independence is in the Square of the Flag, which is located in the heart of the city and which celebrates the raising of the Albanian flag when the country first declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. The monument is appropriately marked with this date, as well, and features figures from Albania's history that were associated with this movement toward freedom. Vlora also has large beaches that provide opportunities for many watersports such as kite-surfing.

Article Written By John E. Roper

John E. Roper is a freelance writer who has written articles for "The Arizona Republic," "The Daily Oklahoman," and several other newspapers and digital platforms over the past two decades. His play, "When I Was Five," has been produced in three countries. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1985.

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