The city, general presentation
At 850 meters above the sea, surrounded by the mountains of Morava, you find her. Call City of Serenades, City of Love, City of Arts, City of the first school in Albanian language, City of Beer, Little Paris.
All this is Korça (Korçë, in Italian Coryza), considered the cradle of the literary and artistic identity of Albania. Historical documents date the city back to the early Middle Ages - the first half of the fifteenth century - when the province of Korça was under the control of the feudal family of the Muzakaj.
The city has been a very important commercial market. Over the centuries it has been the starting point for Albanian caravans for their trips to Turkey, Greece and Russia. In the second half of the 19th century, Korça became the most important economic and cultural center of the homonymous region.
The urban architecture of Korça, with its Ottoman, French and arumene influences, made of long tree-lined avenues and large parks, offers an absolutely unique experience in Albania. The markets, monuments, mosques and churches of the city (dating back to the early Byzantine and Ottoman times) are evidence of the historical-cultural melting-pot of this important city, a crossroads of the Balkans.
The first settlements of Korça date back to the times of the Illyrians, yet the city took on its own administrative features relatively late, practically during the Ottoman rule.
We have the first historical hints about the city thanks to the chronicles of Gjon Muzaka of 1510, who, reconstructing the genealogy of his family, reports of a city called Kovica, incorporated in a sort of maxi-fiefdom that took much of central Albania to the Vjosa river, a fief belonging to one of its ancestors, Andre Muzaka I, from the 1280.
In the 1440 the Ottomans occupied the Korça area. The modern city was built around the fifteenth century from beige Iljaz Mirahori, to whom is dedicated the homonymous mosque that still exists today.
The expansion of the city grew during the Turkish occupation. When nearby Voskopoja was attacked by the Albanian Muslims of Ali Pasha of Tepelena and razed to the ground in the 1788, its inhabitants moved to Korça.
The Albanian Muslim intellectuals wanted to preserve the Albanian nation within an economic and linguistic community that was undergoing a strong Hellenization due to the massive presence of Aroman inhabitants of the Arvanite group.
The first Albanian language school, originally for boys only, was opened in 1887 with the help of the Frashëri brothers. Its building now houses the National Museum of Education (here article). A separate school for females was opened in the 1891. A French high school opened in Korça in the 1917 following Independence.
The Korça patriots, organized by the 1906 at the 1912, took part in the movement to free the country from the Ottoman occupation. One of the most famous Albanian sculptors, Odhise Paskali, immortalized the patriots in the famous monument "National Hero"Which depicts the men who descend from the mountains to liberate the city.
Korça experienced a period of prosperity in the interwar period, when many of its characteristic cultural institutions, palaces and avenues were built.
The city of Korça continues to highlight its sophisticated and historic urban values, proud of being a welcoming and human-sized city. Visitors confirm this by walking through the city's many parks, clean streets and characteristic cobblestone streets.
National Museum of Medieval Art
Open in the 1980, it contains medieval historical, cultural and artistic exhibits, mainly associated with the Byzantine and post-Byzantine Christian heritage: icons, stone objects, collections of precious metals, carved wood, precious fabrics.
In particular, the iconographic collection that this museum possesses is one of the largest in existence (around 6500 pieces) in the territories that were part of the former Byzantine Empire. The icons, dating back to the XIII-XIV century, are attributed both to anonymous and famous painters, such as the Onufri, Simone di Ardenica and the Zograf brothers /
National Museum of Education
The National Museum of Education in Korça is located in the building of the first Albanian school, inaugurated the 7 in March 1887 with the permission of the Ottoman Empire. Eight exhibition structures that collect the history of Albanian writing, of the alphabets used over the decades up to the current standardized in the Manastir Congress of 1908.
The history of the Albanian book is displayed in the museum, starting from the first abetare (the book that teaches the ABC of language grammar, also used in current Albanian primary schools, ed) written in 1844 by Naum Veqilharxhi, one of the exponents of the Albanian Risorgimento. / /
House - Museum of the painter Vangjush Mio
Created in the 1945 and renewed in the 1995, this house-museum hosts various cultural activities, such as opera concerts, photographic exhibitions and pictorial exhibitions.
Vangjush Mio, to which the museum is dedicated, was the first Albanian painter to organize his own personal exhibition in Tirana in the 1920. He also exhibited in Bari in the 1942.
Korça Beer Factories
A must if you do food and wine tourism in Albania, the establishments of the homonymous beer, founded in the 1928 from an Albanian and an Italian, they are open to the visit of those who want to know the production phases of the blonde drink. In the nearby Korça Beer House the tasting is a must, it is proposed as a moment of conviviality, as well as pure marketing of the company, but it is worth taking advantage of it, because the beer is always accompanied by the typical local products, first of all the zgare, roast meat. / /
Ottoman era bazaar, is Albania's first-class cultural heritage.
33 store blocks totaling 150 commercial premises. According to the old architecture of the time, the shops are typically two-storey (average height of 8 meters), someone with a basement, and windows with grating.
It is also known as Bazaar of the Serenades, for the habit that the locals had to compose and play music along the streets during the course of market activities.
The old bazaar has been modernized to turn it into a tourist hub.
Orthodox Cathedral 'Resurrection of Christ'
The most important Church in Korça and surroundings, the most important Orthodox church in Albania, formerly known as the Church of St. George, was restored in the 1992 after being destroyed in the 1968 during communism.
The new name given to the Church marks precisely the return to the celebration of the Christian faith after the dark years of Hoxha's atheism.
Admirable is the internal iconostasis, completely worked in wood.
The Gjon Mili Museum
It is dedicated to the American photographer of Albanian origin, Gjon Mili, known for being the inventor of stroboscopic photography. Mili was the pioneer of moving photography. His most prestigious collaboration was with the magazine Life. One of the most famous personalities immortalized by his camera was the great painter Pablo Picasso.
"Bratko" Museum of Oriental Art
Opened in June 2003, it was the realization of the dream of Dhimitër Mborje (1903-1990) artist, photographer and collector of Oriental art and ancient art.
The life of an emigrant had brought him both outside the European continent (in the USA he was mobilized as a soldier of the American army during the Second World War) and in the Asian continent, where he began his passion for local art, in particular Thailand, Korea and Indonesia.
Kamenica is one of the largest funerary archaeological sites so far known. There were identified 400 tombs, skeletal remains of 430 people and over 3500 objects. Its first tombs date back to the late Bronze Age around the 12th century BC; the latter date around the middle of the sixth century BC, so the site remained functional for almost 700 years.
Although abandoned to neglect by the 2016 due to lack of funds, the site still deserves a visit due to the archaeological importance it holds.
At about 20 km from Korça, there is a village at 1300 meters high where you can practice outdoor activities practically all year.
Dardhë already since 1920 it was the most famous ski area of the entire Prefecture of Korça. Here in the 2012 the first ski area in Albania was officially opened, the Bigëll-Dardhë. / /
Two km of ski and snowboard slopes and 2 ski lifts:
- Bigëll 1, built in 2011, an 500 meter ski lift with a capacity of 800 people / hour
- Bigëll 2, built in the 2010, a 200 meter lift / skilift with 600 capacity per person / hour
In spring, summer and autumn the area is very popular with fans of Hiking, who come to do simple walks or longer routes than trekking.
Among the numerous springs in the village there is also the so-called "Uji i qelbur"(Shame about the name, literally 'dirty water' ...) which acts as a healing water for stomach and kidney disorders. The characteristic stone houses complete the beauty of this village.
The two traditional festivals in the area are those of Santa Maria (the 16 August) and of San Pietro, which is celebrated in the woods, near the church of the same name built on a rock.
The typical food and wine products of Dardha are the lakror and the rakia of plums.
Boboshtica is an important tourist destination of Korça, with a splendid hillside location that ensures pure air and clear waters, rich vegetation of bushes and centuries-old fruit trees, as well as many medicinal plants.
There are two elements that make this village different from the others. The language still spoken by an old inhabitant, a dialect of Macedonian derivation called kajnas, and the centuries-old mulberry shrubs, from which a famous grappa is also produced.
The biggest celebrations of Boboshtica are the Feast of Santa Maria the 15 August and that of "Rosica“, A celebration that sees the mass participation of women dressed in traditional costumes.
Vithkuq is located at 26 km south-west of Korça. The mountainous climate of this tourist attraction, cold in winter and cool in summer, is very healthy. This is where the Osum River originates.
In the village, traditional festivals are organized, especially in summer, which have a more religious character, such as the Feast of St. Peter 29 June and that of St. Nicodemus, which is also the celebration of the Association “Vëllazëria Vithkuqare"The 10 July.
In the typical folklore of the village the so-called is included Dado dance, danced only here.
Nuts and tea are typical food and wine products of Vithkuq.
The concentration of churches is incredible. The most important is that of San Thanas, San Attanasio, dating back to the 1162. Then other 18 were built, among which some of the most important are the Monastery of San Pietro and that of San Nicola.
Eight of these churches have been rebuilt from the ground up. St. Peter's is one of these. Built from scratch is the church dedicated to St. Nicodemus.
Next to the church of San Pietro is that of the Saints Cosmas and Damian, born with the particularity of keeping inside the remains of the dead of the village.
Also worth mentioning is the church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, which preserves splendid frescoes inside.
Although now a remote village, in the fourteenth century Voskopoja it became an important medieval city and served as a bridge not only within the country, but also between neighboring countries such as Greece and Turkey.
Voskopoja (in Italian Moscopole) reached the peak of its prosperity in the 1764, when the population rose to 30.000 inhabitants. During this time the city had 24 churches with beautiful frescoes. Unfortunately, to date only one Monastery, that of St. Prodromo, and five churches have arrived: St. Athanasius, with its frescoes of the Apocalypse; the Cathedral of Santa Maria, which contains theHakatist Hymn, 24 iconographies dedicated to the Virgin; the church of the Archangels Gabriel and Michael and the church of San Nicola, the most complete in its Byzantine architecture.
To visit them, you need to ask to meet their caretaker, who lives in one of the small houses in the village center.
Voskopoja had an Academy, a library, a printing house (dating back to 1720) and a fertile production of handicrafts and textiles. It suffered three destructions, in the 1769, in the 1789 and in the 1916. Fortunately, in the village there still remains a great wealth of medieval art.
The beautiful city and the surrounding landscapes are surrounded by high hills and lush fern forests. From the Monastery of San Prodomo (2.246 m above sea level, dedicated to St. John the Baptist) there is a wonderful view of the peaks of the Lenije and Ostrovica mountains.
The famous zgare they are all those grilled meat specialties. You can find them in practically every restaurant in the city, accompanied by vegetables. Those of Korça, according to those who have tried them, are the softer roast meats of Albania, thanks to the cooking in the oven that allows to retain all the juices of the meat. What does not hurt in the zgare korçare, the homonymous restaurants, is the fixed presence of live musical accompaniment. In larger venues it is also possible to dance. From the city of serenades that you can expect to be different?
Another typical Korça specialty is the lakror, which would be the local variant of the byrek. The difference is in the number of sheets. While the byrek it foresees about a dozen, the lakror of Korça is atdy petë', two sheets. Also the cooking under the ash is particular. Filling typical of the korçara area is onion and tomato, but you can also find lakror stuffed with eggs, spinach and gjizë , the typical Albanian ricotta.
Speaking of meat, in Korça the Italians (more than other foreigners) will be able to lick their fingers with the Albanian variant of torcinelli. It is about kukurec, lamb gut wrapped and roasted on the grill.
The Koran fish
If you leave the city in the direction of Lake Ohrid, you can also try a dish based on a fish typical of this area, the Koran, similar to salmon trout. Having ascertained that its free fishing is prohibited, it is however bred for its sale to local restaurateurs.
Sodanik, the sweet
Finally, a dessert. The sodanik, for which the manner of speaking is valid 'de gustibus', that is, he can like it or not. Reason? It can be understood from the name. The preparation of this sweet made from corn flour involves the addition of bicarbonate. A teaspoon is actually added, so very little, but corn flour enhances the flavor, if we can say so. The aftertaste may turn to amaragnolo, but in any case it is worth trying.
Remember, just for the sake of completeness of the list, also the drink that takes its name from Korça, beer.
The Korça region also has a product of the Ark of Taste, sponsored by the Slow Food Foundation. It is about Boboshtica mulberry blackberry schnapps
Without absolutely expecting to be exhaustive, this is a list of some of the most popular clubs in Korça.
- Vasili Tavern
It is the Café-Museum located inside the Vecchio. Among the specialties you can drink here, the rakia (Albanian grappa) flavored with honey and cinnamon.
- Villa Cofiel
- Taverna Antoneta
In Boboshticë, a few kilometers from Korça, there is this traditional restaurant whose specialties are meat preparations. You can eat a very soft oven-baked lamb, i kukurec grilled and their oven variant, i brendshme
The Mall is located at the Old Pazar (Pazari i vjetër) and is open from Monday to Sunday from 8.00 to 16.00.
Organized in the month of April for a duration of two weeks, the Spring Fair is accompanied by a variety of artistic and cultural activities, including many concerts. The Ceramics Fair (Panairi i Poçerisë), which takes place in the square in front of the Orthodox Cathedral.
In the month of June in Korça the most important Carnival in Albania comes to life. Which actually grew so much in fame, attracting even foreigners, which is now officially known as Korça International Carnival.
A riot of colors and notes, the carnival parade brings together participants from all over the world, from Eastern Europe to South America, and is accompanied by the typical Korça music, the so-called 'korçare serenades', and by memorable drinking of local beer.
Feast of the lakror
Each July Korça celebrates one of its typical dishes, the lakror.
During the event, housewives demonstrate to passers-by the preparation of this local specialty, offering it, then, after cooking it.
"Sculpture of the Park" International Symposium
Also in the month of July, from 7 to 16, this cultural event dedicated to sculptural art takes place.
Which has a peculiarity. The sculptors from all over the world work their work and then donate it to the city of Korça. The sculptures are permanently installed to enrich the city park, the Rinia, which has now become a Park-Museum for contemporary art.
Beer Festival - Korça Beer Fest
Each August she is the protagonist, the blonde fermented drink that takes its name from its city of origin.
A non-stop 5 days that ideally marks the culmination of summer festivities at Korça. Music, beer, good traditional food, all until the early hours of the morning. The most enjoyable way to enjoy the Korça by-night.
The event, which takes place free of charge, also has an official website, also available in the English version.
Designed for the 2019 autumn, this year's novelty is this event that brings together artistic and cultural activities to convey the secular traditions of the city of Korça.
For the months of September and October, the musical shows will be held, among others, on the stages set up at the Old Bazaar and along the pedestrian area. The best musical bands from Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo will perform. The particularity of the Festival is given by the urban theme, set up by the Municipality itself.
Within the framework of the National Cultural Heritage Day, from 29 September and throughout the first week of October This multicultural festival is held, which includes artistic, sporting and cultural activities for all ages, such as free admission to museums, photo exhibitions, poetry evenings and entertainment activities specifically for children.
Feast of Apple
In the framework of the eno-gastronomic events, the Festa della Mela, which takes place in the first week of October, aims to promote one of the local agro-food excellences. Local tourists and foreigners are invited to a full-immersion in different farms in the area, where they can have fun picking apples and watching their processing. In addition to apples, other culinary products are also advertised, such as wine, jams, liqueurs and sauces.
International Association of Painters 'The days of My'
The association, which takes its name inspired by the painter korçaro Vangjiush Mio, is a together international gathering of Albanian and foreign painters 25 from October to 28 in Korça to use it as a 'work studio'.
Indeed, the wonderful landscapes of the area, with the spectacular colors of the autumn korçaro, lend themselves well to pictorial representations. Furthermore, the event, in its concept, is a communication bridge between artists from all over the world who promote their personal painting styles in Korça.
Korça Open Air
Da December 2018, the municipality of Korça organizes, towards the end of the month, this sporting event involving professional Albanian Air Force paratroopers, who also offer free flights to the city.
The Parade of Santa Claus
Each 30 December a parade of Santa Claus is organized, which with sled and elves travels the streets of the city to the central square, that of the Orthodox Cathedral. All seasoned with music, fun and surprise gifts for children.
New Year's Fair
With the slogan "Let's celebrate even in winter!", And under the blanket of snow that, more often than not, furnishes Korça in December, the municipality organizes the New Year's Fair, the only one in Albania. In addition to the festive atmosphere, there are wooden houses, toys, sweets, traditional drinks (hot wine), baked apples, chestnuts, music in the square and outdoor exhibitions. In the center of the city, the House of Santa Claus welcomes all the children who want to visit it and take a picture with the old man of the gifts. Ice skating is another fun way for anyone who chooses to celebrate the end of the year in Korça.
The airport 'Mother Teresa' of Tirana is about 180 km.
Then, with the shuttle service, you can reach the center of Tirana and from there, take the bus towards Korça.
The terminal from where buses depart to the south-eastern part of Albania (Jug-Lindje area, in Albanian) is the number 2 and is located near the entrance to the Student City, 'Arben Broci' street.
Without prejudice to changes decided, as needed, by the Transport Authority of the Municipality of Tirana, the website http://tiranaparking.al/
It is in the Albanian language, but easily understandable for the data you are interested in. Scroll down and check the line times Korçë- Tirana-Korçë.
In ferry, the nearest port is Durazzo, about 200 km away. The bus station is directly outside the port, in the opposite area.
Connected with the rest of Albania thanks to a good network of intercity buses, in the city you can move really well even using the bicycle.
The Korça urban plan, based on the best ecological intentions, has provided the streets with a considerable network of cycle paths.
The municipality has organized the initiative on a permanent basisKorça Pedalon'(Korça pedal). Cyclists gather every Sunday at the 10 in the square in front of the Cathedral to enjoy the city with a nice ride in the open air.