ShkodraA�the largest city in the north of Albania (87,500 inhabitants, 2008 estimate), is located on the east side of Shkodra Lake, on the southern part of the Mbishkodra plain, between the rivers Drini and Buna.A�The city is one of the oldest in Albania and it is also an important cultural and economic center.it was the main centre of the Illyrian state. In the year 168 BC, the city was taken by the Romans and it became an important trade and military route for them.
In 1040 AD, Shkodra was captured by the Serbs and became an important economic and administrative center. In 1396, the city came under Venetian rule, forming a coalition against Ottoman Emp
Shkodra has been inhabited continuously since its foundation in the 4th century BC. It was the chief town of Illyrian tribe of Labeats and later on during the reign of King Gent and Queen Teuta
ire. Despite resisting attacks for some years, Shkodra fell under Turkish rule in 1479. Many inhabitants fled shortly after the occupation that devastated the city. It did not gain its prosperity until about the 17th century.
During its long history the city has played important role in Albanian culture and history. In the southern part of the city rises the Castle of Rozafa, and in the surrounding neighborhood there are prehistoric burial grounds and both ancient and medieval fortified settlements.
Today the city and the area around it, is blessed with numerous different natural and cultural objects. The city retains its characteristic appearance with narrow streets with tall stone walls on both sides and tall gates. After World War II, Shkodra rebuilt with wider streets and new residential buildings. These were built in several new quarters.
Apart from being a historic center, Shkodra has always been a center of education, culture and trade. It has always developed and maintained links to the West, especially to Italy and Austria. Shkodra is also the center of Albanian Catholicism as well as a fine example of tolerance between religions, with the city comprising all the major faiths found in Albania.
The sights of Shkodra
Rozafa CastleA�(fortress of Shkodra) – at the entrance of the town, 3km south of the city centre, located on rocky hill 133m high. It is one of the biggest and most famous castles in Albania. The Rozafa castle has a fascinating history, related to one of the most beautiful of Albanian Legends. Archaeological excavations have brought findings, extending from the early Bronze Age until the present day. Within its massive defensive walls stand the Church of St. Stephen, several Venetian administrative buildings, a belfry and some medieval rooms. There is also a small museum and a traditional restaurant.
St. Stephen’s ChurchA�- stands in the principal court of Rozafa Castle. It was constructed in two phases at the end of the 13th and in the 14th century, and was later converted into a mosque.
Leaden MosqueA�- stands below Rozafa Castle in a medieval quarter, once old bazaar area. It was built in 1773 by Mehmet Pasha Bushati on the model of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and is roofed with lead.
Historical MuseumA�a��is an Ottoman-era building (1815) with archaeological and ethnographic collections.
National Photo Gallery “Marubi”A�- is located in the centre of the town and is the richest and most important photographic archive in Albania. It contains more than 500,000 negatives, of which the earliest go back to 1858.
Catholic CathedralA�a��is A�one of the biggest catholic cathedrals in the Balkans dedicated to St. Stephen. After it’s reconstruction in 1991, the cathedral was inaugurated by Mother Theresa and two years later it was visited by Pope John Paul II.
Mesi BridgeA�– is 6 km north of Shkodra, near the village of Mesi, built in 1768, over the Kir river. This is the largest and best preserved Ottoman bridge in Albania, built along the ancient trade route from Shkodra to Kosovo. The bridge is 108m long, 3m wide, with 13 asymmetrical arches. The Kir river has incredibly crystal blue water, clear mountain water and the bridge is located in a picturesque landscape.
Shkodra LakeA�– on the border of Montenegro with Albania is in fact a former sea bay that was cut off from the Adriatic when the sea level dropped, thousands of years ago. The lake is the largest in the Balkans at 41km long and with surface between 370-530 km2. As its depth is up to 60 metres, the bottom of the lake is well below sea level, making it a so-called crypto depression. Shkodra Lake is one of the largest bird reserves in Europe, having some 240 bird species inhabiting its shores, including some of the last pelicans in Europe.