KUKESI – ALBANIA
Kukes is situated 100 kilometers to the north-east of Tirana. It lies over the picturesque mountain Lake Fierze some lower of the peak of Mountain Gjallika (2,486 meters above sea level). Earlier the old town stayed on the place of confluence of the Black and White Drin effluent from Lake Ohrid. But in the middle of the 20th century when a hydro-electric power station was built on this place Kukes was moved away. Now it is a very nice small town worth to spent here one or two days, enjoy beautiful landscapes of a reservoir wedged between steep mountainous slopes and take a breath of clean mountainous air.
Kukës is a town in Albania located in the northeastern part of the country, close to the border point with Kosovo. It has a population of about 16,000 (2003 est) and is also the center of the district with the same name. The town is set among the mountains of northern Albania and is famous for its role in the Kosovo conflict for taking in 450,000 refugees from Kosovo. This led, in 2000, to it becoming the first ever town to be nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.
The town was relocated as part of a hydroelectric scheme. The old Kukës was submerged beneath an artificial lake in 1976, the lake being held back by Chinese-built dams. The new town (Kukësi i Ri – “New Kukës”) was built in the 1970s in the plateau nearby which is 320m over the sea level. Kukësi i Ri is surrounded by the artificial lake of Fierza and it looks like a peninsula from the above. It is linked with the other parts of the country by three bridges. On the East it faces the snow covered mountain of Gjallica, 2468m over the sea level. The district is impoverished, with poor road connections, and major problems with crime.
Illyrian tombs were found at Këneta nearby Kukës. It was a small Roman settlement, a stopping point on a branch road leading to the Via Egnatia, and a minor Ottoman market centre and trading post on the road to southern Kosovo. Just before the First World War it was there (Qafa e Kolosjanit) where Albanian resistance stopped the Serbian invasion in 1912.
There is a mosque and a closed alpine-style hotel, part of a failed attempt to establish a tourist industry there. OSCE maintained a villa there.
A popular spot is a place just off the main square called the Bar America where the speciality is Tavë Dheu. There is also a local history museum and a carpet factory. The food industry is confined only to the production of alcoholic drinks produced in a drink factory, and to some local small workshops producing drinks and dairy products.
The Highlanders in the region are well known for their developed agriculture. Kukës has a carpet factory whose products is for domestic and trade use. There is also a copper processing factory as the raw material, copper, is found in this place. Kukës is a good centre for fishing and walking in the surrounding mountains. In the bad weather Kukës can be dramatic, with huge threatening cloud formations over the Vikut Mountains, and the sparse streets of the little town and the lake, subject to violent gusts of ‘Bora’ snow.
Getting to and away from Kukes
(From Kosova): Kukesi is only 42 kilometers from Prizreni in southwestern Kosova, and buses and mini buses often travel across the border, the journey lasts just for half an hour.
(From Tirana and the rest of Albania): A highway connects Kukes to the Adrriatic port of Durres, this highway was created in the year 2010 and has made the journey from the Northern Albania alot easier. The new road cuts south west from Kukes, through brand new tunnels and joins the main north – south highway at Miloti. The journey from Tirana to Kukesi takes less than 3 hours, even if you are travelling by bus. In Tirana, the buses for Kukes leave from the Zogu i Zi roundabout. There are also mini buses from Rresheni in Mirdita.
From Bajram Curri, the buses to Kukes (and to Tirana) now travel through Gjokova / Dakovica and Prizreni. The journey to Kukes takes about 2, 5 hours, the Tirana buses drop the passengers that are going to Kukes off at the highway below the town where there is a metal staircase leading to the main town. A civilian airport has been constructed just outside Kukes, Kukës Airport (ICAO: LAKU) is an airport about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) south of Kukës, Albania. The government of Albania granted permission for it to host international passenger traffic in 2016. The airport is named after a major founder of the United Arab Emirates, Shaikh Zayed.
ACCOMMODATION IN KUKESI OF ALBANIA
It is usually easy to find accommodation in most areas of Albania, what we have tried to do is to give you the many many options but to also give our own personal advise of the goods and the bad, as well as the exact location and the facilities of each accommodation choice. We would appreciate it if you would reserve your accommodation via this website and we will be there either in person or with a representative of ours to personally assist you while you are on your holidays in Albania.
ACTIVITIES IN KUKESI OF ALBANIA
SIGHTSEEING IN KUKES – ALBANIA
The town of Kukes: A walk around the town of Kukes takes about an hour. The main square, with the administrative buildings for the town and the region is a good place to start. At the southern corner of the square, overlooking the lake, is an imposing monument to the exodus from Kosova during the 1998 – 99 war. Most of the 500.000 refugees who fled from Kosova entered into Albania from Kukes, which – despite its own poverty and lack of infrastructure – somehow managed to cope not only with its Kosovar cousins but also with the hordes of foreign aid workers and journalists who came into the town. The monument was constructed by a group of grateful Kosvars in the year 2009, on the tenth anniversary of the refugees return to their homes after NATO had driven out Slobodan Milosevic’s forces.
Beyond the monument runs the town’s lakeside promenade, a pleasant walk on a fine evening, when it fills with strolling families and couples. To the right are fine views of the lake, to the left is a park with swings and other amusements for children. The Durres- Morrina high way, which connects Kukes and beyond it Kosova with the Adriatic Sea, runs below the promenade, along the lakeside. It towers above the town, lake and highways, Mount Gjallica rises to the southeast at 2,486 meters high.
At the promenade, at the mosque, turn left up to the main street, Rruga Kryesore. Just to the right as you meet the main street, the buses for Tirana wait for passengers; about 100 meters beyond them, parked around a triangular car park, are the mini buses which go to Kosova and Peshkopia. the best chance of obtaining information of any reliability about the departures times and arrivals of the mini buses is to ask in the many cafes here. Kepp walking on across Rruga Kryesore will lead you to a small wooden park, you can walk through it or across it to meet Rruga Kryesore. There is a bunker half hidden among trees at this junction, a left turn here will bring you back to the main street, just beside the Gjallica hotel.
To return to the administrative square, turn right along Rruga Kryesore. The Radio Kukesi building stands at its northern end with a wonderful Socialist Realist bas-relief above its door. At the other end of this street (Rruga Gjillica) is the square with the cultural center, town hall and regional government building or Prefecture. There is also a small road up to the right, beside the cultural center. Through trees and above fields this leads to the ruined shell of the former “Turizmi” hotel, used as offices by international organizations during the war in Kosova, and, since then left to decay and crumble. From the other side of the ruins, however, there are marvelous views of the lake Fierza, the Black Drini coming into it from the South and the confluence of the White Drini just visible to the North. The White Drini reaches near the Kosova – Montenegro border and flows down to Albania through Kosova, the Black Drini begins its overland life at the northern end of the lake Ohrid and flows through Macedonia before entering Albania to the south of Peshkopia. From here, there is also a brilliant view of the new bridge over the Black Drini and the highway which continues to Rresheni, Durresi and Tirana.
Shishtaveci: Shishtaveci is famous as the village of the skiing champions and skiing is a long standing tradition in this area. Skiing is recommended for winter activities, guaranteeing you a brilliant time! The tableland of Shishtaveci as the whole chain of mountains in this area has a very cold climate that is rough, long and wet while the summer is short and fresh.
The Bog of Kukesi: The Bog of Kukesi is located on the right side of the Drini River, at the third terrace, near the village of Bushat in the commune of Bicaj. It consist in the fogy system, as remain of the old lake which is leaving the ultimate period of the life. Longitude 500 m, latitude 300 m. It has geomorphologic, biological, didactic and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës- Bicaj-Bushat.
The Red Source in Gjallicë: It is located close to the village of Dërshan, 2200 meters above the sea level. The carst spring runs out through the tectonic-carst split of the calcareous. It has clean water and creates an attractive point of natural interest. It has tourist values. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës- Shishtavec-Gjallicë.
The spring of Kolesiani: Situated near of Kolesiani village, commune of Bicaj, 430 m on the sea level. It has clean water and creates an attractive point of natural interest. It has tourist values. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës-Kolesian.
The White Spring: Situated near the village of Turaj, commune of Topojan, 1750 m on the sea level. It has clean water and creates an attractive point of natural interest. It has tourist values. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës- Shishtavec-Turaj.
The outfall of Çaja. Situated at the vicinity of the village of Çaja, in the valley of Bushtrica, 750 m on the sea level. Longitude 25 km, latitude 20-30 m, deepness 100-200 m. It disposes unexplored caves, with geomorphologic, didactic, and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës-Bushtricë.
The glacial circus of Zepa. Situated at the mountain of Zepa, near the Arrën village, 1900 m on the sea level. Composed from calcareous, it is over 500 m long, 300 m wide, and with some carstic forms. It has geomorphologic, didactic, and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës-Arrën.
The Morning Stone, near of Shishtaveci village, 1900 m on the sea level. The name comes from a simple reason, it is the place of the rising of the sun in the morning. It is a sandy stone, with the form of cone, 25 m, long, 13 m wide and 11 m high, with a surface of 176 m2. It has geomorphologic, didactic, spiritual and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës-Vana’s Outfall-Shishtavec.
The Eagle’s Stone. It is situated near of Borje village, Shishtavec commune, 1580 m on the sea level. It consists in a conglomeration rock with longitude 100 m, latitude 80 m. It is over 27 m high and disposes geomorphologic, didactic and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës-Shishtavec-Borje.
The canyon of Bicaj, near of Bicaj village. It is formed from calcareous, 2,5 km long, 4-6 m wide and 150-200 m deep. It has geomorphologic, didactic and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës-Bicaj.
The canyon of Vanave. It is situated near of Rexhepaj village and Kukës city, at the valley of Luma, 600 m on the sea level. Calcareous rock, 3,5 km long, 30-40 m wide and until 300 m deep. It is crossed from the road Kukës-Topojan-Shishtavec. There are alot of unexplored caves. It has geomorphologic, biological, didactic and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës-Topojan.
The canyon of Arni. It is situated near of Surroi village. Represents carstic landscape, full of pointed carstic forms, 1.5-2 km long and 200-230 m wide. It has geomorphologic, biological, didactic and tourist interest. Can be visited following the itinerary Kukës- Surraj-Arrën.
THE HISTORY OF KUKES – ALBANIA
The old Kukës was located at the confluence of the White Drin and Black Drin. In 1976 the town was submerged beneath the Fierza Reservoir, which is held back by a Chinese-built dam. The new town (Kukësi i Ri – “New Kukës”) was built in the 1970s in the plateau nearby which is 320m over the sea level. Kukësi i Ri is surrounded by the artificial lake of Fierza and it looks like a peninsula from the above. It is linked with the other parts of the country by three bridges. On the east it faces the snow-covered mountain of Gjallica, 2468 m above sea level. The district is impoverished, with poor road connections, and major problems with crime.
Illyrian tombs were found at Këneta and Kolsh nearby Kukës. It was a small Roman settlement, a stopping point on a branch road leading to the Via Egnatia, and a minor Ottoman market centre and trading post on the road to southern Kosovo. It was there (Qafa e Kolosjanit) where Albanian resistance stopped a Serbian invasion in 1912.
Kukës attracted international attention during the Kosovo conflict when 450,000 Kosovo Albanian refugees crossed the frontier and were housed in camps in and around Kukës. There is a mosque and a closed alpine-style hotel, part of a failed attempt to establish a tourist industry there. OSCE maintained a villa there.
A popular spot is a place just off the main square called the Bar America where the specialty is Tavë Dheu. There is also a local historical museum and a carpet factory. The food industry is confined only to production of alcoholic drinks produced in a drink factory, and to some local small workshops producing drinks and dairy products.
The Highlanders in the region are well known for their developed agriculture. Kukës has a carpet factory whose products is for domestic and trade use. There is also a copper processing factory as the raw material, copper, is found in this place. Kukës is a good center for fishing and walking in the surrounding mountains.
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT KUKESI TOWN OF ALBANIA
UNIQUE CULTURE OF ALBANIA
The Albanian culture is an exotic blend of traditions that have evolved over thousands of years. From the ancient Illyrians and Greeks to the Romans and the Ottomans, the language, music, arts, and cuisine of the Albanian people are a rich and vibrant mix of many civilizations. Once you discover our culture, you are bound to fall in love with this new destination on the Mediterranean.
Hospitality is in our nature. Welcoming guests and ensuring their comfort is a hallmark of Albanian heritage and is epitomized by our very own Nobel Peace Prize recipient: Mother Teresa. The spirit of cooperation and friendship thrives in Albania, and it is not uncommon for guests to be invited to eat and drink with curious locals wishing to learn more about you.
Besa is a concept related to the Albanian code of honor and is an idea that is very important to the Albanian people. In the Kanun (a set of traditional Albanian laws), Besa is described as the highest authority, so essential to personal and familial standing as to be virtually a cult. Besa has been the subject of some stories and novels by Albania’s foremost modern novelist, Ismail Kadare, a Nobel Prize Candidate for Literature and winner of several international prizes. Kadare’s work has been published in over forty countries and translated into more than thirty languages, making Kadare the best ambassador of Albanian literature worldwide.
If we are speaking about the food and drinks of Albania, then we must mention the country’s deliciously-unique cuisine. It has many similarities to Turkish and Greek dishes, but offers a healthier, Mediterranean twist. Come try our wide variety of phyllo dough delicacies, including a melt-in-your-mouth sensation called byrek, or the original sweet treat known regionally as baklava.
Albania also has a long tradition of wine craftsmanship, which is lately being revived to its former glory. While you’re here, taste a sampling of our wine, produced from a rich soil that has been under cultivation since the ancient Greeks and Romans. Regardless of your culinary inclinations, we guarantee that our rich history and culinary traditions have created a menu of mouth-watering specialties for you to try.
Each region of Albania likes to specialize in its own brand of music, thus giving the music aficionado an incentive to explore the entire country in search of each community’s sense of style. For example, UNESCO has classified a type of music from southern Albania, known as Iso Polyphony, to have tremendous cultural value to humankind. Our music has even given rise to a few prominent artists of global acclaim, including opera lyric soprano, Inva Mula, and the distinguished violinist, Tedi Papavrami.
In regards to style, when you arrive in Albania, you will notice that the men take great pride in their appearance and will often don a suit and tie when in public. Even if their errands only involve a short trip to the grocery store, the men will dress to impress.
Depending upon the type of festival or time of year, you might even catch a glimpse of Albanian men in traditional folk attire. The National Folk Festival held in Gjirokastra is a prime example. This special autumn event is held once every four years and attracts artists from around the world.
The women of Albania also share a flair for style, especially at traditional Albanian weddings. At these events, the families of both the bride and groom will gather together in their finest dress and celebrate with great fervor. Weddings are often the ideal opportunity to witness the best of Albanian culture all in one event, and if you’re invited to one, the experience will undoubtedly be extraordinary.
Albanian culture is unique in many ways and we hope you’ll visit us to see it firsthand. We say ‘yes’ by shaking our head from side to side, both men and women greet each other with a kiss on either cheek, and our conversations are loud and passionate in an effort to entice others to join in. Visit Albania and discover why our culture is a new Mediterranean love.
MAP OF ALBANIA
PHOTO GALLERY OF KUKES
MAP OF KUKES