Kruja is a medieval town located 32 km northwest of Tirana. It is built on the slopes of Sari -Salltiku Mountain.
The name of Kruja derives from the Albanian word krua, meaning ‘water spring’. The citadel became the main Illyrian fortress in the area in the 4th century AD. In the year 879, Kruja was mentioned for the first time as a Christian religious center. The first Albanian feudal state was created here circa 1190.
The ottomans occupied Kruja two times, in 1396 and 1415. The town reached its zenith on the 28th of November 1443 when the Kruja castle was sized by Gjergj Kastrioti (Skanderbeg), who then organized the long anti-Ottoman resistance. From this time on, under the leadership of Skanderbeg, Kruja repelled three Ottoman sieges in 1450, 1457 and 1466. Only ten years after the death of Skanderbeg, in 1478, were the Ottomans able to capture the castle and destroy the town.
The sights of the town
Kruja Castle was built during the 5th and 6th centuries and has an elliptical shape with a total area of 2,25 ha. The surrounding walls are reinforced by nine towers, which served as an observation and signaling post during times of war. Within the walls of the castle there can still be seen the remains of a few houses.
The Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg
The Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg – inside Kruja Castle. The National Museum Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu, also known as the Skanderbeg Museum and the Kruja Museum, is located in Kruja and is one of the most visited in Albania. This museum was built in the famous Kruja fortress, the headquarters of the arberian state and the personification of the defeat of the Ottoman armies, for three consecutive years, in the nineteenth century.
In this museum there are exhibited many original objects, documents and bibliographies, authentic reproductions that speak clearly about the history of the Albanian people in the 20th century and beyond.
There are several pavilions in this museum such as the pavilion of antiquity and early medieval period, the pavilion of Albanian principals, the Ottoman invasion, the pavilion of medieval castles, the Albanian resistance, Skanderbeg’s chancellery, the library, the hall of the princes etc. In these pavilions you can find displayed ceramic, bronze, iron, copper, various facsimiles, original icons, inscriptions, the bell of 1462, and original swords of the XVth century etc.
The Ethnographic Museum
The Ethnographic Museum – inside Kruja Castle. Very near to the modern Skenderbeg museum is the ethnographic museum of Kruja, within the remains of the old citadel of Kruja castle. It is the best preserved ethnographic museum of Albania and is packed from bottom to top with a lot of objects, situated in an old traditional house in Turkish style, built in 1764.
The museum is also called the National Ethnographic museum, because of its importance. Surrounded by a wall, well marked, the entrance is through the original gate at the back of the house, while you will leave through the “front door”. All the rooms are furnished in the original way, kitchen, sleeping rooms, guestrooms etc., all packed with objects like clothes, musical instruments, utensils and other objects of importance.
In the basement of the house, before entering the living rooms on the first floor, is an exhibition of crafts. Production of raki, olive oil, woolen dresses and qeleshë, the skull caps etc. Within the living rooms it is even possible to climb up to the place where the women stayed when guests were in the Oda. One of the main attractions of this museum is the private bath. It seems to be the only preserved personal Turkish bath in Albania.
The Traditional Bazaar of Kruja
The Traditional Bazaar – on the way to the castle, a medieval – type bazaar with traditional handicrafts such as filigree, alabaster, silver, copper, wooden made objects, wool carpets, etc. All the shops are made of wood.