Albania's historical hero, Skanderbeg is eulogised in the Skanderbeg museum, inside the walls of the Krujë castle. Its collection includes lots of 15th century military artifacts related to the Albanian-Ottoman wars, during which the castle was besieged four times by the Ottoman army. There is also a virtual shrine to Skanderbeg with modern sculpture and statuary.
During our visit it was thronged with schoolchildren, taking notes. There a a fine view to be had from the terrace of the museum
Kruje’s old bazaar is a charming place with cobbled streets and colourful shops... Mainly souvenir shops where you can buy traditional Albanian costumes, books, musical instruments, and different items from the communist days...
Very relaxed atmosphere, friendly service, and no aggressive salesmen... Just be a little careful when walking through the bazaar because the cobbled streets are quite slippery.
The National Ethnographic Museum opened in 1989, in an old traditional house from 1764. It is two stories high, and consists of 15-16 small rooms; kitchen, sleeping room, living room, guest room, workshop area, and much more... All rooms are filled with old furniture, daily life objects, tools, and machines - giving a good view of how life was in Albania many years ago... OK, how life was for a wealthy family because the house used to belong to one of Albania’s wealthiest families, the Toptanis… But the museum is still a fascinating place with many interesting items and details.
Kruje Castle has a long history dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries, and is a place of great historical importance for all Albanians. It became really famous during Skanderbeg’s (the national hero of Albania) battle against the Ottoman Turks in the middle of the 15th century... Most of the castle is now ruins, but remains of a few houses, walls, and an old tower (used for observation and signalling to other castles in Skanderbeg’s defence line) can still be seen here...
Skanderbeg National Museum is also located inside the old castle walls. It opened in 1982, and is a great museum - very modern and informative... It honours Skanderbeg, and tells his life story - as well as Albania's ancient history in general... There is a fantastic view of Kruje and the surrounding landscape from the museum’s upper terrace.
When visiting the Skanderbeg Castle it is important to visit the associated museum, located within the walls of the castle. For a nominal entrance fee, visitors can wonder the halls of this interesting building and step back in time through the museums numerous artifacts from the Skanderbeg era (1405-1466). Tourists interested in a thorough background on the Albanian hero's background and the 15th Century conflict with the Turks will find this museum facinating.
Probably no more than a 30 minute commitment, but well worth a visit. I was particularly impressed with the stained glass window pictured here.
In the old bazaar, you can find antiques and local craft. Apparently, until now, all craft are locally made and not imported from China like in all touristy places! Let us hope that this will last!
The first photo shows vessels made with pine cones arranged in a very clever way!
The second photo shows superb baskets made of olive wood. We bought one and are very happy with it to display fruits.
The third photo shows wooden shoes, wooden vessels and woven items.
The fourth photo shows on top woven rugs with a typical Albanian design, arranged into bags. Below various antiques.
Actually, the old Bazaar in Kruja is not that old. It has been completely restored around 1960 but, though I have not found any picture of how it looked before the restoration, it seems that it looks like the previous one. It is made of two rows of shops, lined on both sides of a paved alley with the gutter in the middle.
A fountain with the head of a goat is flowing gently, imbedded in the wall of the historical museum. I have read that there was a XVth century fountain in the castle yard, but I cannot ascertain that it is this one, except that I have not seen any other !
The first photo shows the remains (only the base of the walls) of an old settlement, below the entrance yard. I have no clue on the date it was built.
The second photo shows the entrance of the “museu etnografic” (ethnographic museum). On the left, an old woman has hanged a hand made lace for sale to visitors. She displays also several small carpets. Following my guide book, this might be Mrs Dollma, fom the families that is warden of the Bektashi teqe (that I have not spotted)
The third photo shows that there are people living inside the castle walls.
In the inner yard of the castle, several shops were selling souvenirs of Kruja and of Skanderbeg. It was only 10 AM and there were no other visitors than us. If there were so many shops, I suppose that later in the morning and in the afternoon, busses from Tirana bring their loads of visitors to this main site of Albania’s history.
Photo 1 and 2 show parts of the first part inner yard with the vaulted entrance in the background.
Photo 3 shows the basement of an old mosque with only a few fallen walls and the bottom of the minaret.
Photo 4 shows a cannon aimed towards the plain. Every fortress has a set of old cannons!
The road to the castle is narrow but perfectly paved with small stones. On the right, it overhangs the lowest part of the city and the plain (first photo).
After a few hundred meters, a vaulted entrance (second photo) allows to enter the inner yard of the castle. We did not pay any entrance fee, may be because we were in May and that there were too few foreign visitors.
This building is about the same shape and size as the fountain but of a different style. The shape of the windows reveals again an ottoman style but more recent. However, I had no clue on its meaning or function when I discovered on the photo that there was a dark slab of stone on the left to the closed entrance.
With the help of Photoshop, I succeeded in getting photo number 2 which is not good at all but which sharpened my curiosity. On the left stands a skeleton! Amazing, isn’t it? On the right, the text is hardly readable. Only the signature at the end can be deciphered as “Pasha Ali Mychis/Plychis, Kruja”. I am very sorry that I did not notice the slab when I was in Kruja. Again, I would be glad if anybody could tell me more about this place or take a better picture.
My bet is that it has to deal with Ali Pasha of Tepelena (1744-1822) that fought for the independence of his country.
This small square building, ottoman style, stands on the left to the road that leads to the castle.
The third photo shows the fountain itself. The mouth where water should flow is dry. The basin is made of a single stone that has been carved. Obviously, the fountain is under repair!
Photo 4 is a close up on the stones over the mouth of the fountain. It seems that carved stones have been put back clumsily. Underneath, two lions face each other. Above, a stylized sun is represented.
Photo 5 shows a text written in Arabic script, carved on the right to the fountain. Anybody can read this text? I will try later to decipher it.
Unsurprisingly, the castle is the best place to have a general view of the town. The second photo is a close-up that shows the mosque in the middle of the photo. In the foreground, at the foot of the mosque, the double row of low houses is the old market (see other tips)
Every visitor to Kruja visit the castle and Skanderbeg museum as they are the main feature of the town. The castle stands on a peg that overhangs the town. The Skanderbeg museum has been built a little lower, on a shelf.