PESHKOPIA IN ALBANIA
Peshkopia is set between spectacular mountains, which makes it quite isolated from the rest of Albania. Like Tropoja, it was cut off from its natural hinterland by the border drawn in the year 1913, it also suffered many years of neglect by the central government.
The town of Peshkopia is located 187 kilometers (116 miles) away from Tirana, the capital of Albania, and 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Macedonian border. It sits 651 meters (2,136 ft) above sea level. It is the capital of both the county (Albanian: qark) and district (Albanian: rreth) of Dibër. It is the only county capital in Albania that does not share its name with its county. Peshkopi lies east of the Black Drin river. The Drin valley is the lowest part of the district. Mineral ores such as chromium, sulfur, and marble have been discovered in the district. It is also an important industrial center in Albania, particularly in relation to the food industry. Peshkopi has a branch of Aleksandër Moisiu University, currently closed by order of the national Ministry of Education for alleged failure to meet standards.The most important kind of tourism in the region is the mountain tourism, because of the hilly relief, and the big surface of forests. In the district of Dibra, lie two of the 13 national parks in Albania, Lure Park, and Zall Gjoçaj Park, which offer great possibilities to enjoy every detail of mountain tourism, winter and summer. You can climb, walk, ski, trek, do picnics, hunt, sail at lakes of Lura etc. Another kind of tourism is the curative tourism. There are some sulfur baths in Dibra, which create the possibilities to develop the curative for all the people who need this service for different health problems that come healed from sulfur waters.
GETTING TO PESHKOPI AND AWAY
By public transport: the minibuses from Tirana to Peshkopia leave early in the morning, from the roundabout that is known as Zogu i Zi. These buses take you to the main square in Peshkopi. The journey takes about 4 hours, depending on the traffic in Tirana. You will see that the road shows it age, however the journey is quite pleasant, as the road runs along the lovely green Mati river (See rivers of Albania) and then through the pretty wooded countryside, with many views of fortified houses and interesting arrays of bunkers.
ACCOMMODATION IN PESHKOPIA
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 bads 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 PESHKOPIA
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 PESHKOPIA
The Ethnographic Museum of Dibra: It is located in “Elez Isufi” boulevard in the town of Peshkopia. The objects of this museum are housed in a traditional building with typical architecture.There are round 2.000 objects displayed to the visitors. The items include a complex of national folk dresses, rugs and carpets, different arms since the Illyrian period.
Grezhdani Castle: The Grezhdani Castle is located 11 kilometers southeast of the town of Peshkopia, not far from the village of Maqellare. The walls of the castle cover an area of 34 hectares. It is built on a hilly terrain, 525 – 600 meters above sea level. The surrounding wall has a length of 2760 m and its reinforced by 44 towers placed at a distance 40-80 meters away from each other. This castle has three entrances protected by two side towers. The defensive towers are of different shapes like square, rectangular while the gate defensive towers have the “U” shape, which is a characteristic for a time not exceeding the IV century AD. The walls go up to 1.5 m with a width of 3 meters. The walls were build with river stones and lime stones. The south entrance, with the size of 14×9 meters, represents and entry model with two doors. The Grazhdani Castle is the largest ancient monument in Albania, and one of the biggest in Balcan Peninsula for its size about 34 hectares of covering area. The castle dates back to the 4th century CE, during the late Roman period. During the middle Ages, it was supposed to be the Stefigradi Castle, which was under the control of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg. It was strategically located, linking the region of Dibra with Kosova and Macedonia. It was declared a historical monument in 1963 CE and covers an area of 34 hectares.
Bruc Castle: Bruc in the region of Dibër is a city in Albania – some 27 mi (or 43 km) North of Tirana, the country’s capital.
Burgajet Castle: The Burgajet castle used to be a large fortified house, located In Burgajet in the Mat District of Albania. It was the birthplace, and family seat, of King Zog I of the Albanians. Jason Tomes described it thus: a solid rectangular building with two small wings facing into a courtyard. This was Burgajet Castle, citadel of the chieftain of Mati . . . and the biggest house for miles and the only one with glazed windows. The interior was even more distinctive…Fancy furnishings, imported from Austria, had recently become the hallmark of wealth. Salon chairs, draperies, table-lamps, and bric-a-brac… His family were the traditional feudal rulers of the Mat District of Albania and were large landowners. On ascending the throne, King Zog I, took up residence in a palace in Tirana (with a Summer Palace in Durrës ). This was a factor leading to Castle Burgajet falling into ruins. Before King Zog I was forced to flee Albania he had an ambitious plan to rebuild the Castle but this never transpired; during his reign, however, a plaque commemorated his birth there. When asked why he did not rebuild Burgajet, King Zog replied “I was too busy rebuilding my country.”
Herbel village: Above the road is the village of Grazhdan built on Deshati Mountains. Passing through the village paths you can take the walk towards the artificial lake were starts the old path towards the Herbel village. The walk is simple and lasts 45 minutes.
At the village of Herbel, travelers can find the old Church of Disfigurement. A legend that has survived the years says that every 18th August something like red flames descends from the church of Kërçini peak and halts at the Church of Disfigurement. This is a day of pilgrimage. The church is closed but inhabitants can find you the key and will assist you with great pleasure.
Popinare village: From the exit of the Herbel village at 700 meters above sea starts the path that links it with the village of Popinare. The hills to climb are not difficult. In an hour walk the height reaches 934 meters and the path becomes more difficult. Along the walk, several locations are suitable for resting and enjoyment of the nature. At the entrance of Popinare the height reaches 1000 meters. The village has about 40 houses where kindness and hospitality are at home. At the way out from the village a small plateau offers a nice natural balcony from where you can enjoy the scenery with the villages of Popinare, Grezhdan and Herbel. The way back from Popinare to Grezhdan is pleasant and last about 30 minutes. The path is easy and old chest-nut trees adorn it.
THE HISTORY OF PESHKOPIA
The region that is now known as Dibër was inhabited since the pre-Christian times by the Illyrian tribe known to the Romans as Penestae, Πενεσταί in Ancient Greek (Albanian: penestë).
The name of Peshkopi is derived from the word peshkop meaning bishop in Albanian and from Episkopè in Greek. Bulgarian maps of the eleventh century show the town under the name Presolengrad. The region of Dibër was subsumed under the Orthodox archepiscopate of Ohrid in 1019, and one year later received the status of an episcopate with its center in the Bulke ward of Peshkopi, located in what is now the neighborhood of Dobrovë. The central church of the Dibër Episcopate was that of St. Stephen (Albanian: Kisha e Shqefnit). The seat of the Episcopate would later be relocated, but the town of Peshkopi retained its name. Peshkopi is referenced as early as the fifteenth century under the name Peskopia.
By the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire had completed its conquest of Albania. Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Peshkopi (then Debre-i Zir, which meant “Lower Debre” in Ottoman Turkish) was a small market town, overshadowed by the larger and more flamboyant Debar (Albanian: Dibra e Madhe, “Greater Dibër”), which today lies just over the Macedonian border. The population of Peshkopi was almost completely Muslim by 1583. Ηην θε year 1873 an Ottoman barracks was built in Peshkopi, housing up to 8,000 soldiers.
The Dibër region, including Peshkopi, took part in the uprisings against Ottoman authority that were occurring throughout Albania in the early 1910s. Albanian armed bands (Albanian: çeta) captured Peshkopi from the Ottomans on August 16, 1912.
In the aftermath of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, a Serbian army invaded Dibër and entered Peshkopi in early December 1912. Albanian forces retook the city on September 20, 1913. A Bulgarian army invaded Peshkopi on January 1, 1916. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, an ally of Bulgaria, brought an army to Peshkopi on April 12, 1916 and engaged in punitive house-burnings and executions throughout the region in an attempt to quell local resistance. The Bulgarians and Austro-Hungarians departed the area in September 1918.
Italian forces invaded Albania in 1939, reaching Peshkopi on April 15. Albanian Communist partisans retook Peshkopi on September 9, 1943. The following October, the partisans defeated Balli Kombëtar forces in an armed battle for control of the city. In July 1944, German forces occupied the city, but were expelled later that same month. Fighting continued in the Dibër region until early September, leaving the Communist-dominated National Liberation Army (Albanian: Ushtria Nacional çlirimtare) in control.
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT PESHKOPIA
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 PESHKOPI
MAP OF PESHKOPI