Medieval castles in Albania

Krujë Castle

The Krujë castle was the center of Skanderbeg"s rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. During the Albanian Revolt of 1432-1436 the city was unsuccessfully besieged by Andrea Thopia and Ottoman rule was restored. After Skanderbeg"s rebellion in 1443 the castle withstood three massive sieges from the Turks respectively in 1450, 1466 and 1467 with garrisons usually no larger than 2,000-3,000 men under Skanderbeg&qu ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Krujë, Albania

Gjirokaster Fortress

Gjirokastër Castle dominates the town and overlooks the strategically important route along the river valley. It is open to visitors and contains a military museum featuring captured artillery and memorabilia of the Communist resistance against German occupation, as well as a captured United States Air Force plane to commemorate the Communist regime"s struggle against the 'imperialist' western powers. The ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gjirokaster, Albania

Berat Castle

Berat Castle dates mainly from the 13th century and contains many Byzantine churches in the area and Ottoman mosques. It is built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the river Osum and is accessible only from the south. After being burned down by the Romans in 200 B.C., the walls were strengthened in the 5th century under Roman Emperor Theodosius II to protect from Barbarian incursions into the Balkans. They were su ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Berat, Albania

Durrës Fortitied Old Town

The fortified old city of Durrës was built by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I (r. 491–518), who came from Durrës. At the time, Anastasius made the city one of the most fortified cities on the Adriatic. The ancient walls were devastated in an earthquake in 1273, and had to be extensively repaired. Currently the medieval walls stand at nearly 4.6 meters in height and the three entrances of some of the fortification ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Durrës, Albania

Petrelë Castle

The castle of Petrelë has a rich history, containing a tower which was built in the 6th century AD. It is one of the tourist locations close to Tirana that attracts a great number of visitors. The Castle, the prominent wooden structure is a restaurant, is perched on a rocky hill, above the village with the same name. It has a triangular shape with two observation towers. Although it was first built in ancient times, ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Petrelë, Albania

Rodoni Castle

Rodoni Castle is located on the Cape of Rodon. After the victorious First Siege of Krujë the League of Lezhë decided to increase the fortifications for use against the Ottoman Empire. Skanderbeg chose the cape of Rodon as the location of the castle and construction began in 1450. The walls of the castle that was completed in approximately 1452 had a length of 400 metres. When the Siege of Krujë started in 1466 Skanderb ...
Founded: 1450 | Location: Shetaj, Albania

Drisht Castle

Drisht Castle is a ruined castle above the modern Albanian village of Drisht, medieval Drivastum. The earliest traces of fortifications date to the late Neolithic era. In the 9th century, it was part of the defences of the Zeta principality. Part of castle was built in the 13th century during the Byzantine rule. The current walls and towers date to 1396–1478 during the Venetian era. In the 14th century the castle becam ...
Founded: 1396-1478 | Location: Postribë, Albania

Bashtovë Fortress

The Fortress of Bashtovë is a medieval quadrangular fortress located on a fertile flat ground east of the mouth of the Shkumbin River.  Previously in the Middle Ages, the region of Boshtovë was known as a trade harbor and otherwise centre for the export of grains. The origin of the fortress has been for some time a matter of dispute among historians. The initial fortress was constructed during the time when the region ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vilë-Boshtovë, Albania

Borsh Castle

Borsh Castle (also known as Sopot Castle) dates from Antiquity, and its fortifications follow the trace of an acropolis, with four subsequent phases of reconstruction, ranging from the early Byzantine period to the late Middle Ages. The site is first mentioned in the early 13th century, when archbishop Demetrios Chomatenos wrote of the 'archonship of Sopotos', part of the region of Vagenetia. In 1258, the D ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Borsh, Albania

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.