The Skanderbeg Square is the main plaza in the centre of Tirana. The square is named after the Albanian national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu. The Skanderbeg Monument dominates the square.
In 1917, the Austrians built a public square, where the Skanderbeg Square is located nowadays. After Tirana became the capital in 1920, and the population increased, several city plans were planned.
During the time of the Albanian monarchy from 1928 to 1939, the square was composed of a number of buildings that would eventually be detonated during the communist period. The square was composed of a roundabout with a fountain in the center. The Old Bazaar used to be established on the grounds of modern-day Palace of Culture, the Orthodox Cathedral (present-day Tirana International Hotel), while the former City Hall building, on the grounds of where the National Historical Museum is located nowadays. A statue of Joseph Stalin was erected, where today the Skanderbeg Monument is located. Besides the construction of the above new elements during communism, the statue of Albania's leader Enver Hoxha was erected at the space between the National Historical Museum and the National Bank.
Following the fall of communism in 1991, the statue would be removed amid student-led demonstrations. Since June 2017, the square has been renovated and is now part of the biggest pedestrian zone in the Balkans.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.