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Monday, October 22, 2012

10 stories you need to know about Albania


did-you-know
 archaelogical-parks For more info visit http://www.albaniantourism.com/
 
1. The last battle between Caesar and Pompey occurred near the Kavaja Rock in 48 B.C. Named Petra at the time, the Rock provided much needed shade to the camp of Caesar’s army perhaps facilitating the victory of the latter against Pompey.

2. The three largest and deepest tectonic lakes of the Balkan Peninsula are located in Albania. The lake of Shkodra in the country’s northwest has a surface of 368 km2, out of which 149 km2 belong to Albania. The Albanian coast line of this lake is 57 km.  Ohrid Lake is situated in the country’s southeast. It has a maximal depth of 289 meters and it is so old that a unique flora and fauna can be found there, including “living fossils” and many endemic species. Because of its natural and historical value, Ohrid Lake is under the protection of UNESCO. Finally,

 Prespa Lake is also located in the country’s southeast at 850 meters above sea level, thus constituting the Balkans’ highest tectonic lake. Its karstic underground river supplies the springs on the shore of Ohrid Lake.

3. Sailing on the artificial Koman Lake, visitors can enjoy a typical “fjord landscape” that will remind them of Northern Europe in the heart of the Mediterranean. The lake was formed in 1986 as a result of the completion of the Koman hydropower station on the river Drin. It has a surface of 12 km2, 34.5 km long and with a width that varies between 50-60 meters. The lake cuts t

1. The last battle between Caesar and Pompey occurred near the Kavaja Rock in 48 B.C. Named Petra at the time, the Rock provided much needed shade to the camp of Caesar’s army perhaps facilitating the victory of the latter against Pompey.

2. The three largest and deepest tectonic lakes of the Balkan Peninsula are located in Albania. The lake of Shkodra in the country’s northwest has a surface of 368 km2, out of which 149 km2 belong to Albania. The Albanian coast line of this lake is 57 km.  Ohrid Lake is situated in the country’s southeast. It has a maximal depth of 289 meters and it is so old that a unique flora and fauna can be found there, including “living fossils” and many endemic species. Because of its natural and historical value, Ohrid Lake is under the protection of UNESCO. Finally,

 Prespa Lake is also located in the country’s southeast at 850 meters above sea level, thus constituting the Balkans’ highest tectonic lake. Its karstic underground river supplies the springs on the shore of Ohrid Lake.

3. Sailing on the artificial Koman Lake, visitors can enjoy a typical “fjord landscape” that will remind them of Northern Europe in the heart of the Mediterranean. The lake was formed in 1986 as a result of the completion of the Koman hydropower station on the river Drin. It has a surface of 12 km2, 34.5 km long and with a width that varies between 50-60 meters. The lake cuts through beautiful valleys and canyons. The rocky mountainous bridges precipitate vertically into the water thus creating wonderful landscapes. Sailing on this lake connects Shkodra and Tirana with the towns of Bajram Curri, Tropoja and the surrounding areas.
 
4. Remains of prehistoric cave bears (ursus speleaus) have been found in Pëllumbas cave, located 25 km from Tirana. This type of bear was extinguished about 400 thousand years ago. Only five caves in Europe contain its fossils nowadays. Located in the panoramic Skorana Pass, the cave is in good condition with a width of 10-35 meters, a height of 15 to 40 meters and a length of 300 meters. Ancient human skeletons have also been found in this cave.

5. The Lagoon of Karavasta is the westernmost nesting point of the Kaçurrel Pelican (pelicanus crispus). Since 1994, the Lagoon has become a member of the RAMSAR International Convention. It has an area of 4,330 hectares making it the largest lagoon of the Albanian coast. It has been declared one of the twelve national parks of Albania and is therefore under the protection of the Albanian government.  Observing the pelicans is a wonderfully rare experience. They land on a small sandy island of the lagoon that is popularly known as “Pelican Island.” Visitors can rent a boat to sail close to it. And observe some of the 5 percent of the world population of this species of pelicans that make Karavasta their home. However, the Lagoon is an important eco-system for a number of other species, too.
 
6. It is thought that the Albanian language comes from the ancient pelasgian language. The Pelasgians constituted a Neolithic culture at the beginning of the Bronze Age in the territory known today as Albania. Archaeologists have uncovered remains of this culture in Podgorie, Kolsh and elsewhere. The thesis of Pelasgian-Illyrian continuity was first articulated in the seventeenth century. Perhaps the most important defenders of this thesis was the German Albanologue, J.G. Hahn.
 
7. The Roman amphitheatre in Durrës is the second largest of its kind in the Balkans. It was built in the first century A.D., at the time of Emperor Hadrian. It had a capacity of 15,000 to 20,000 spectators, its style resembling similar structures in Pompey and Capua in Italy. A “cupola” with rare mosaics was added to its galleries in the tenth century.
 
8. Some songs from Southern Albania are sung without any musical instruments. This type of interpretation is called “iso-polyphony.” It is registered as “Part of the Oral Traditions of Human Kind” and is under protection by UNESCO. Iso-polyphony is sung in that part of Southern Albania called “Toskëria” and especially in the Labëria region. Every November the National Festival of Iso-Polyphony is performed in the city of Vlora. 
 
9. The ancient city of Butrint is mentioned by Virgil in his “Aeneid.” Also known as the second Troy, together with the museum city of Gjirokastra is in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Butrint was a fortified city of the Kaon tribe of Southern Illyria. Its ruins today include the theatre, the temple of Asclepious, the Venetian fort, city entrances and others. Gjirokastra is a major city in Southern Albania. It is also known as the “city of one thousand steps.” According to local legend, it was founded by a local princess named Argyro. What makes Gjirokastra particularly attractive as a tourist attraction is its stone houses that appear like castles built on top of each other on the mountain side.
 
10. The Albanian National Hero, Gjergj Kastrioti, was the first to be declared Athleta Christi by the Vatican for his successful 25 year resistance to the Ottomans. Among other battles, he defeated three massive armies led by Sultans Murat II and Mehmet II who laid siege to Kruja in 1450, 1467 and 1475.

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