Top Historic Sights in Elbasan, Albania

Explore the historic highlights of Elbasan

Elbasan Castle Walls

Elbasan castle is a 15th-century fortress, initially composed of 26 equidistant 9-metre high towers. The site seems to have been abandoned until the Ottoman army built a military camp there, followed by urban reconstruction under Sultan Mehmet II in 1466. Mehmet constructed a massive four-sided castle with a deep moat and three gates. He named it Elbasan, meaning "conquered country" in Turkish. He had built the ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Elbasan, Albania

St. Mary's Church

The St. Mary"s Church is an Eastern Orthodox church and monastery in Elbasan, Albania. The church"s building started in 1483, but it ended almost a century later: the church had its first religious services only in 1556. It was built entirely in stone in a completely particular way, with stones carved in the shape of a cross, which can still be seen today. The church was frescoed by Onufri and restaured by David ...
Founded: 1483 | Location: Elbasan, Albania

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.