Due to its strategic location, the castle hill in Rofaza has been settled since antiquity. It was an Illyrian stronghold until it was captured by the Romans in 167 BC. The 19th-century German author and explorer Johann Georg von Hahn suggested that the ancient and medieval city of Shkodër was located immediately south of the Rozafa hill, between the hill and the confluence of Buna and Drin. The fortifications, as they have been preserved to date, are mostly of Venetian origin. The castle has been the site of several famous sieges, including the siege of Shkodra by the Ottomans in 1478 and the siege of Shkodra by the Montenegrins in 1912. The castle and its surroundings form an Archaeological Park of Albania.

The castle comprises of three main courtyards, making it easily navigable. Once you enter the fortified 15th-century main entrance, you come to a first courtyard, where the 4th-century tract of the Illyrian wall, the oldest structure in the castle grounds, is found. Along the first courtyard, you’ll also find medieval ruins of cisterns, the towers of the Balshaj, and the former Venetian residences.

In the second courtyard are the ruins of the Church of St. Stephen, which is now a mosque, and is certainly deserving some special attention. Originally the church was built in the romantic style commonly found between the 13th and 15th centuries, and was later transformed into the Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, between the 16th and 19th centuries. During this time, the Catholic population abandoned the castle, as the space came to be used as a military base.

Today, the ruins of this church-mosque, which was ultimately abandoned in 1865, symbolize the passage of history that ran through Albania. The third and final courtyard of the castle holds a three-story Venetian building, known as the “Capitol”, which served as the residence of the Venetian ruler. Inside this building, the Castle of Shkodra Museum tells of the 4000-year-old castle, including the most renowned medieval families of the city. Information about the castle is provided in Albanian and English.

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Founded: 15th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Albania

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jeroen Witte (5 months ago)
The castle is in a decent state and has information in English at several points. The views are rather good, especially at sunset. Closing times might just be a suggestion, as we got in half an hour after official closing time. Oh.. and beware of the spiders.
Jana Vobořilová (5 months ago)
Nice, but really need to have good shoes. The way to the top is not easy. :)
Roy Timberman (5 months ago)
Awesome views. I recommend parking below and hiking up the road.
Manof Wood (6 months ago)
Huge fortified structure at the edge of Shkoder, within walking distance from the city centre, with commanding views of the river and surrounds. Well maintained wells pock the vast interior landscape. Nice little air-conditioned cafe hidden in an upper corner.
Johan Haitel (7 months ago)
Great view of the city and the surrounding area. Entrance fee is 200 Lek, and it can easily be reached by foot from the city center in about 45 min to 1 h. Roads leading up the castle are quite slippery, especially in wet conditions. Very limited number of parking spaces.
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