TEPELENE IN ALBANIA
Tepelene is in Southeastern Albania, on the west or left bank of the river Viosa, on the north-eastern side, is the mountain of Shëndëllia, that is facing the mountains of Kurveleshi area and on the southern side is the mountain of Goliku, and Mezhgorani Gorge, which divides the Mountains Lunxhëri-Shëndëlli-Bureto from Trebeshinë-Dhëmbel-Nemërçkë just like a a knife.
Tepelene was the mother town and secondary residence of Ali Pasha Tepelene, who was the Governor of Ioannina from the year 1788 to 1822. Ioannina, which now is a part of Northern Greece, at that time used to be the capital city of the administrative district (sanjak) which at that time covered most of the land of Southern Albania. Walking away from the main square of Tepelena, there is a huge bronze statue of Ali Pasha, the castle is a few minutes walk along the road of Ali Pasha in Tepelena. The high walls of the castle cover an area of 4-5ha, dominating the valley of the Vjosa river, below. The castle is still inhabited and there is no entrance fee if you wish to visit it. There has been a bar set up on the roof of one of the castle’s towers, many people love to go up there and admire the river valley and the bridge over the Vjosa river, whose foundations were built by Ali Pasha, himself!
How to get to Tepelene: Tepelena is located just 40 minutes away from Gjirokastra and it is linked by frequent buses and mini buses. A trip to Tepelene is also a good idea, if you are staying in the ton of Permet. Arriving at Tepelene from the northern side, as well as the buses and mini buses, which take you to the main square of the town, it is also possible to get a ride with any vehicle heading for Gjirokastra or Permeti. These vehicles stop on the main road, just below Tepelene. It is quite a stiff road up to the town, but there are always taxis, waiting near the bus stop on the main road. You will pass the Viroi Lake on your left, just 3 kilometers north of Gjirokastra. This is a small and very attractive manmade lake. Particularly popular in the summer, there are a number of good restaurants and a hotel around its shores. Continue on the national road ignoring the right turn to Përmet and you will shortly arrive in Tepelenë. The two rivers, Vjosa river, one of the largest of Albania, and Drinos river create a spectacular landscape. At the bottom of the villages Vasjar and Miricë, flows a third river, the river of Luftinja. On the western side of Tepelene lie the sources of coal. The district has two main towns: Tepelene and Memaliaj, and over 90 villages. This district includes “Kurvelesh”, a region that is famous for its bravery and polyphonic characteristic music. The 15 most popular villages of the region are: Gusmari, Vërmiku, Nivica, Rexhini, Progonati, Lekdushi, Golemi, Kaparieli, Picari, Kolonja, Kuç, Bolenë, Kallarat, Fterrë and Çorraj. Tepelene was the birth-place and the favorite residence of Ali Pasha, who was visited in 1810 by Lord Byron.
ACCOMMODATION IN TEPELENA
The Olindi hotel offers 40 rooms and is located in the main square of Tepelena.
ACTIVITIES IN TEPELENE OF ALBANIA
Hiking around Tepelene – the route from Tepelene to Vlora: There is a dirt road leading from the town of Tepelene (south of Albania) to the seaside town of Vlora. This hike offers the hikers many middle age bridges, canyons and fantastic views! Lord Byron wrote about this hike and although it is not known to many people. It is one of the best hikes in Albania. This hike is around 20 kilometers but accommodation and traditional food is available in the small villages on the way.
SIGHTSEEING IN TEPELENA
Tepelena is probably one of the richest countries in Albania in terms of monuments of nature. They relate to natural heritage, which consist of natural value offered to society. Furthermore, its nature reserves also special value items, rare, that maintained and protected by law, are defined as “special heritage”, national or global. Some of these monuments in the district of Tepelena are:
Tepelenë Castle: Tepelena Castle was built by well known Ali Pasha in the end of 18th century CE in the town of Tepelena. It was the second most important castle during his reign, after that in Ioanina. The castle is protected by three stone towers. The height of the castle walls reaches 10 meters. The eastern entrance is called “Porta e Vezirit,”. Covering a total surface of 4.5 hectares,the construction of the famous castle monument was completed in 1819. If you look down from the Castle, you will see a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river of Vjosë, which stands upon many very old stone piers. The original bridge was built by Ali Pasha as a gift to his town. You may cross the bridge and take the path up to the village of Beçisht, the birth place of Ali Pasha. The remains of his house are still visible and any local inhabitant will be able to give you directions.
Woodland Park of Cold Water: If you travel to Tepelene by bus, you will notice that the bus makes a stop at this area, which lies a few miles away from Tepelena, on the national road that leads from Gjirokastër to Tepelene. The forest is perennial and the majority of it consists of old plane-trees, and other trees as well. The forest includes several hectares and is protected by state law as a rare natural monument. The particularity consists in its numerous sources of water.
The Willow’s forest with an area of about 4 ha, located almost close to the city of Tepelena. From the locals is called “the Tepelena’s Drilon. This forest has an extraordinary beauty and consists mainly of the plane tree, willow, etc.. This forest is still virgin.
The Canyons of Nivica. Situated near the village, several kilometers in length, width 10-20 m, depth 80-100 m. Are formed by the karsti of Nivica stream and limestone of Crete. On its slopes are numerous caves.
HISTORY OF TEPELENE OF ALBANIA
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT TEPELENE 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 TEPELENA
MAP OF TEPELENA