Tirana, Albania (Day 1, morning)

When I woke up in Tirana, I had a vague plan to walk around and see some of the sites I’d seen in a couple of listicles on my phone in the airport while waiting to board the plane in Frankfurt. I had no idea just how far I’d walk, or how much I’d see!

Luckily, the hotel was right in the city center, and the weather was fantastic: a little cold, but amazingly bright and sunny, and I saw in real life almost everything the internet told me to look for.

See below for photos of:

  • Tirana Marriott Hotel, Air Albania Stadium, and some university buildings
  • Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard
  • The Pyramid of Tirana
  • The Lana River at Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard
  • Rinia Park and the Taiwan Center

Tirana Marriott Hotel, Air Albania Stadium, and some university buildings

The view from the hotel window: stadium roof, reflection, a building belonging to the Polytechnic University of Tirana, and mountains!
Different angle from the hotel window: Construction, nice clouds, reflection, more of the stadium.
Yeah so the Tirana Marriott is actually a tower that is *attached* to the stadium…
I went up those stairs to peek into the stadium.
A peek into the stadium.
This building, which you can see in the reflection in the previous photo, belongs to the University of Tirana. (That sculpture probably looked a lot cooler before Covid.)
Tufa colonnade.
Old and new, yellow and blue.
The Marriott tower from a different angle.
Mother Teresa Square.

Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard

The Palace of Congresses is a 1986 (communist-era) venue now used as a general exhibition hall.
I like this building. (Weird name, though.)
The President’s Office.
Sidewalk stones.
Rotary International.
Pretty sky, pretty trees.
Rogner Hotel.

Man, I’m used to living in China, where you can’t expect to be able to look up local stuff on Wikipedia and actually find anything. But Wikipedia’s got Albania pretty well covered! Here’s the page for Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard.

The Pyramid of Tirana

This thing is famous. It was originally a museum about Enver Hoxha, the controversial communist leader of the country from 1941 to 1985. People’s feelings about the structure are similarly mixed… I gather that it was left to rot while its fate was being decided, and people took out a lot of negative feelings by decorating it with graffiti. Now, however, the thing is gleaming white.
Pure geometry.
So many photogenic stairs!
There were (unsurprisingly?) several people doing fashion photoshoots on the stairs.
My shadow on the stairs.
A view from the top. On the right where the people are, there’s a central circular skylight.
This is the new mosque.
Again the new mosque. It’s so new it’s not even open yet.
Tring, presumably an Albanian telecom company.
More mountains to the right of Tring.
A view looking into the pyramid, which is filled chaotically with colored cube-shaped rooms.
Chaotic. Colored. Cubes.
There’s that skylight I mentioned.
At the foot of the pyramid, you can see (more chaotic colored cubes and also) a bust of Pope Francis. (???)
Also nearby is the Peace Bell, which is on Wikimedia but apparently isn’t interesting enough to have its own Wikipedia page.
The Peace Bell up close. (Don’t believe the photos on the internet that show it dangling over a bridge over a fountain. They moved it since then.)

Lana River at Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard

A river of the concrete variety.
Once more, but with more sky.

Rinia Park and the Taiwan Center

Independence monument in Rinia Park.
The Taiwan Center, also called Taivani. Contains friendly-looking cafes, but also a casino.
“Taiwan Pool” (a fountain), in front of the Taiwan Center.
Map of Rinia Park. The orange part is a popular playground. The yellow part is an unprepossessing  “labyrinth” made of small hills. The blue snaky thing is a water channel leading from the pond around the independence monument.