My watch marks late noon in a street that smells of lime. I'm about halfway through my indicator, but not halfway through what I should see inside. After a quick glance to the side from the railing on the marble I enter a nucleus that on the outside presents something fast that clashes. I find myself in front of a triple heavy and open door ... I have no intention of moving and I immediately begin to explore about what I want to write. While it was being built to become what it is today, I was teased by the idea of being the first to know what would have appeared in this Cathedral for believers and all others, since it represents one of the few buildings in good standing in the city. Today I saw him secretly, because a certain gentleman allowed me to have convinced him with an invention of the moment that I was someone of the Church and I had to see what they were ending.
Not really at the end granted me a respect earned, because it was written that there had to be a culminating point, which still could not be seen! In reality they have solved it, it is the crystalline mosaic with ancient Orthodox, Unufriane and Byzantine canonical bases. The light penetrates you coming from the top through 52 windows, which surely represent the 52 weeks of the year, designed and located in them there is the best of desire for faith or figurines embroidered in mosaic. "It is said that this is the largest mosaic in the Balkans! It matters little to me because in a small country like ours there are always many other things bigger than all the other neighboring countries. "
This distance continues for the disinterest shown towards such greatness since I crossed the gilded door, because now I find myself almost in half and someone looks at me from above with the power of an embrace that grows because of the distance and closeness. I lower my head to calm myself from all that surrounds me and the catechisms with the faces of the icons that frightened me in childhood come to mind.
The mistral church seems simple, perhaps because the greatest importance is given to the dome inside, which is called the Resurrection of Christ. When I pass and stop in the morning next to it I like to call it Santa Sofia of Tirana, while inside I find it below the mosaic before the eyes of Christ's Resurrection. Seen from the outside, as regards character and creation, it resembles Hagia Sophia, whose head was taken and taken to Tirana.
The mosaic of the Orthodox Cathedral, of which a good part of the people find it hard to understand the exemplary simplicity, was masterfully realized by the couple Josif and Liljana Dobroniku. Josif Dobroniku can also be found in the center of Tirana as one of the co-authors of the mosaic in the National Historical Museum. The sky of Almighty Christ or Pantocrator was created blue and placid where the petals of light are separated and on the side 12 are distributed celestial petals with 4 shade occupying a surface of 700 m² that admirably give an imposing, heavenly tranquility that comes from above , surrounded by 52 windows. Here, where I move and stop, a bronze chandelier does not stand in my way, with a regal crown with not so many thorns hanging on the sides of the crown so as not to obstruct the view towards the eyes and the situation of Christ. He appears just as he should be, between Divinity and man, neither severe nor judicious from the height of his divine power.
I see that the mosaic predominates and you do not realize its crystalline power in the 21st century, because it suddenly manifests and disappears, just as you do not know that someone is watching you from which the believer should also turn to in a dome that outside it is deep, while inside it turns into less than a half sphere placed above.
I have heard many people who do not like the Cathedral, because they are accustomed to our churches with three naves and conceive it in a more classical way, different from the positions in Byzantine art.
The Pantocrator expands the famous blessing with the Gospel on the left hand, blessing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Wrapped by the basic colors in the canonical of Byzantine and theological painting on red which symbolizes the divine coming from above, while blue is a sign of the earth and approaches the more human side coming from above with the terrestrial on top.
I continue to observe Christ on my face, he seems really affectionate and real, impartial in a distance that comes closer without causing fear to him and to your sins! Initially I came to know that the dome would have been made of glass, but although there were problems in its construction, the Dobroniku couple found a splendid solution depicting Christ in the sky immortalized in the crystalline mosaic with the four shades of blue. The Mosaic was executed with gold of different colors, white gold, yellow, dark and light bronze gold. In the Cathedral there is a silence of those who make you abandon any job and start writing and reading.
Josif Dobroniku is not so much forgotten by the mosaic, because his work is also to be found in the center of Tirana at a time when mosaic artists were prejudiced as artisans. In fact, someone who has studied or read something about colors and iconography feels something different, neo-Byzantine in both the mosaic and the icons.
The mosaic seems to be far away and approaching, because the symbol of Christ it brings back is not only a symbol of religion and faith, but a solution to what we want, to perfection, to over-beauty and to the truth ...
Now I decide to leave the Mistral Cathedral. On my left, under the stairs on the first floor of the subsoil is the bookcase. When I go in to buy some incense, the saleswoman is surprised by my purchase, I see on the shelves a book entitled "The great mosaic of the Balkans". I sit and leaf through it with some Byzantine music in the background, which seems to me to come beyond the walls from a choir that plays in the next room, but actually comes from the computer of the saleswoman. I open the book with a great title and the 17 page mentions: the blue background was composed of 21 shades and each shade contained within itself 3-4 shades. The rhombus itself presented 4-5 shades. The circle in the center of the dome (with 8 meter diameter and surface 49 mq) was divided into squares by 20-30 cm and colored stones were ordered by commission, because they were not part of the catalog of the Venetian company "ORSONI" which produces stones . A blue mosaic stone had dimensions 8 × 13 mm and width 4 mm. In just one square of the mosaic, approximately 1000 stones were placed according to the nuances established in the draft of the project. 1 m² of golden mosaic weighs 10 kg, while 1 m² of blue mosaic weighs 14-16 kg. The gold used for the mosaic is of four types: white gold, yellow gold, dark and light bronze-colored gold. Their tiles are both flat and embossed. So in the background, especially behind the figure of the Pantocrator was used flat gold, while at the edges the one with relief. The golden stones used in the 12 dome beams that spread from the golden background of the Pantocrator are also relevant. The same gilded stones with relief were also used in the underlying drum where the dome rests. Bronze gold was used in the halo. I come out of perfection and beauty, the clock above and the bells have sounded three times for the city.
Published in the newspaper Shqip of 13 May 2013. Original title "Për Krisht AT'mozaik Ose Shën Sofia and Tiranës ".
Translated by AlbaniaNews from Daniela Vathi.