Albanians are very keen for tourists to visit Lezha, beacause it is where their national hero Skanderberg or Gjergi Kastrioti was born. The city of Lezha is located about 47 km to the south side of the town of Shkodra. Lezha is one of Albania’s ancient cities, and in the historical documents it is mostly referred by the name Lissus. In 1398, after the construction of its castle, the city was under direct control of the feudal family of Lekë Dukagjini, but was eventually conquered by Venice. One of the most important historical events for Lezha, and indeed for all of Albania, was the famed “the League of Lezha” on March 2nd, 1444, where under the leadership of national hero Skanderbeg, the Albanian princedoms united against the Ottomans. The Memorial Grave of Skanderbeg is here, at the ex-Cathedral of Shën Kolli, where he was buried in 1468.
The Castle of Lezha, another Illyrian monument, is situated on the top of the hill overlooking the city below. Inside the castle, ruins of an Ottoman mosque
Roman Arch, and an Illyrian Tower all rest together for the ages. Only a few minutes from the city, at the foot of the Mount Renci, it is found the sandy beach of Shëngjin. The sunny beach.
Shëngjini boasts a long and colorful history, known as both “Cesarean” and “Nympheum” in past centuries. It was here that the Roman general Marcus Aurelius embarked with his fleet in order to chase Pompey during the civil war that he and Julius Caesar engaged in.
Travel to Lezha
The highway between Lezha and Shkodra has been fully upgraded, and these two towns are now less than an hours drive from one another. Minibuses and buses ply the route until the early afternoon; if there is no transport specifically for Lezha at the time that you wish to travel, you can catch the bus to Tirana or Duressi and get off the bus at the Lezha junction on the highway; from there its only a five minute walk across the bridge into the center of Lezha. It is a good idea also to visit Lezha on a day trip from Tirana which is less than 1,5 hour away by bus. The buses leave Tirana to travel to the north of Albania from the Zogu i Zi roudabout; in Lezha, the bus station is on Bulevardi Gjergj Fishta.
ACCOMMODATION IN LEZHA 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 LEZHA OF ALBANIA
Albania is qualified today as one the most attractive holiday destinations in the whole of the Mediterranean. The wonderful nature, the land, the museums, the ancient monuments are all places that must be explored. The natural environment of Albania gives you the opportunity to exercise many kinds of sports. More than the two thirds of the country are mountainous terrain and in these areas in the autumn and winter, sports like skiing, mountaineering, climbing, trekking etc. can be exercised.
SIGHTSEEING IN LEZHA – ALBANIA
Lezhë Castle is a remarkable historical monument located upon a hill looking over the city of Lezhë, in the northern part of Albania. (See the castles of Albania) The highest point of the castle is 186 meters high. The castle itself originates from the Illyrian years. In the year 1440 it was reconstructed by the Venetians, and then, in the year 1522, after the Ottoman conquest, it was also rebuilt by the Ottomans. The castle bears many traces of Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Interesting places to visit are the ruins of the Ottoman buildings inside the castle, the mosque, the tower of the south-eastern wall with a Roman arch, and the Illyrian tower on the southern wall. The castle in Lezhe is a cultural monument. The hill on which the castle is offers a beautiful view of the Lezha country side and the Adriatic Sea. The view is even better, if you choose a clear day, the area in which the castle is located is almost always windy. There is a lot of work to be done to the castle and to the ruins inside, but you can still get the atmosphere of the olden years. Inside the castle, traces of at least two churches of the early Christian foundation have been discovered, but their research continues. Along the eastern side of the hill, there is a very interesting cast of ceramic fragments that have been preserved, among rocks and shrubs, a dump with examples of pottery from the sixth to the sixteenth century. In Middle Ages Lissus (then known as Alessio) frequently changed masters until the Venetians took possession of it in 1386. It still belonged to them when Skanderbeg died, but In 1478 it fell into the hands of Turks during the siege of Shkodra, with the exception of a short period (1501–1506) when it returned to Venetian domination. Because it was under the Venetian control, it was chosen in 1444 by George Castrioti (Skanderbeg) as a neutral place for the convention of Albanian, Serbian, Dalmatian and other lords of the area aiming at organizing their common defense against the Turks.
According to other historians, Lezhë is considered as the site of the League of Lezhë where Skanderbeg united the Albanian princes in the fight against the Ottoman Empire. Skanderbeg was buried in the cathedral of Lezhë which was dedicated to Saint Nicholas and later used as Selimie Mosque.
HISTORY OF LEZHA – ALBANIA
The city dates back to at least 8th century BC. Around 385 BC, a Greek colony was found by Dionysius I of Syracuse by the name of Lissos (Λισσός), as part of a strategy by Dionysius to secure Syracusan trade routes along the Adriatic. Diodorus calls it a polis. The city was separated into sectors by diateichisma (Greek: διατείχισμα, “cross-wall”) and there are elements of Syracusan architecture in part of its walls. At a later time it came under Illyrian rule. In 211 BC, Philip V of Macedon captured the citadel of Akrolissos, and Lissos surrendered to him. The town was later recovered by the Illyrians. It was in Lissos that Perseus of Macedon negotiated an alliance against Rome with the Illyrian king Gentius, and it was from Lissos that Gentius organized his army against the Romans. Lissos maintained a large degree of municipal autonomy under both Macedonian and Illyrian rule, as evidenced by the coins minted there. The city was of some importance in the Roman Civil War, being taken by Marc Antony and then remaining loyal to Caesar. In Roman times, the city was part of the province of Epirus Nova, its name Latinized as Lissus.
From 2004 an excavation started around the ancient Acropolis of Lissos and the Skanderbeg Memorial, which revealed Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine buildings, tombs and other findings.
In Middle Ages Lissus (then known as Alessio) frequently changed masters until the Venetians took possession of it in 1386. It still belonged to them when Skanderbeg died, but In 1478 it fell into the hands of Turks during the siege of Shkodra, with the exception of a short period (1501–1506) when it returned to Venetian domination. Because it was under the Venetian control, it was chosen in 1444 by George Castrioti (Skanderbeg) as a neutral place for the convention of Albanian, Serbian, Dalmatian and other lords of the area aiming at organizing their common defence against the Turks.
According to other historians, Lezhë is considered as the site of the League of Lezhë where Skanderbeg united the Albanian princes in the fight against the Ottoman Empire.
Skanderbeg was buried in the cathedral of Lezhë which was dedicated to Saint Nicholas and later used as Selimie Mosque.
Lezhë has also been known by the Italian form of its name, Alessio and in the 19th century as Alise, Lesch, Eschenderari, or Mrtav (Catholic Encyclopedia).
Today Lezhë is a growing city. Its proximity to the port of Shëngjin as well as its location on the national road between the Montenegrin border to the North and Tirana to the South make it an attractive location for industry and business.
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR LEZHA IN 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 LEZHA
MAP OF LEZHA