Discovering the Rich History of Shkoder and Lezhe: Exploring the Majestic Rozafa Castle


Tour Type

Daily Tour

Group Size

1 person


English, Francais, German, Italian, Russia

As a travel enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for hidden gems that are off the beaten path. One such gem that I recently discovered is the beautiful city of Shkoder and its neighboring town of Lezhe. Both these towns are located in Northern Albania and are steeped in history and culture. The highlight of my trip was exploring the majestic Rozafa Castle, which boasts stunning views of the Lake of Shkoder. In this article, I will take you on a journey through the rich history of Shkoder and Lezhe, and show you why Rozafa Castle should be on your must-visit list.

Introduction to Shkoder and Lezhe

Shkoder is the fifth-largest city in Albania and is located at the northern end of the Lake of Shkoder. The city has a rich history dating back to ancient times and has been ruled by various empires and kingdoms throughout the centuries. Lezhe, on the other hand, is a small town located about 30 kilometers northwest of Shkoder. It is famous for being the birthplace of Skanderbeg, a national hero who fought against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.

The history of Rozafa Castle

Rozafa Castle is a must-visit attraction in Shkoder, and its history is as fascinating as the castle itself. According to legend, the castle was built by three brothers who worked during the day and found that their work was destroyed at night. They consulted a wise man who told them that they needed to sacrifice a woman to appease the spirits of the castle. The brothers decided to sacrifice one of their wives, Rozafa, who willingly agreed to be walled up in the castle’s foundation. It is said that her spirit still guards the castle to this day.

The castle itself dates back to the 4th century BC and has been rebuilt and expanded over the centuries. It was an important stronghold during the Middle Ages and was captured by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Today, the castle is a popular tourist attraction and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

Exploring the castle’s architecture and views of the Lake of Shkoder

As you walk through the castle’s walls and towers, you can’t help but marvel at the architecture and engineering prowess of the people who built it. The castle’s walls are 6 meters thick in some places and are made of stones that weigh up to 2 tons each. The castle’s towers offer panoramic views of the Lake of Shkoder and the surrounding mountains, and you can easily spend hours exploring the castle’s nooks and crannies.

Discovering the Marubi Museum and its photographic treasures

The Marubi Museum is a photography museum located in the town of Shkoder. It was founded by Pietro Marubi, an Italian photographer who settled in Shkoder in the 19th century. The museum has a vast collection of photographs that document the history and culture of Albania from the 19th century to the present day. The collection includes portraits of Albanian leaders, landscapes, and everyday life in Albania. If you are a photography enthusiast, this museum is a must-visit.

Visiting the Tomb of Skanderbeg and learning about his legacy

Skanderbeg is a national hero in Albania, and his legacy is still celebrated to this day. His tomb is located in the town of Lezhe and is a popular tourist attraction. Skanderbeg was a military commander who fought against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. He is remembered for his bravery and his role in uniting the Albanian people against a common enemy. Visiting his tomb is a great way to learn about Albania’s history and culture.

Shopping for handmade carpets and traditional souvenirs

If you are looking for souvenirs to take back home, Shkoder and Lezhe have plenty of options. The towns are famous for their handmade carpets, which are made using traditional methods that have been passed down through generations. You can also find traditional Albanian clothing, jewelry, and pottery in the local markets. Bargaining is expected, so be sure to haggle for a good price.

Unwinding with a taste of local food and drinks

No trip to Albania is complete without trying the local food and drinks. Shkoder and Lezhe offer a wide variety of traditional Albanian dishes such as fërgesë, a dish made with peppers, tomatoes, and cheese, and tavë kosi, a baked dish made with yogurt and lamb. You can wash down your meal with a glass of rakija, a fruit brandy that is popular in the Balkans.

Practical tips for a day trip to Shkoder and Lezhe

If you are planning a day trip to Shkoder and Lezhe, here are some practical tips that can help you make the most of your visit:

  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking.
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat as it can get hot during the summer months.
  • Carry cash as some of the smaller shops and restaurants may not accept credit cards.
  • Hire a local guide to show you around and provide insights into the history and culture of the area.

Other activities and attractions in the area

Apart from Rozafa Castle, Shkoder and Lezhe have plenty of other attractions that are worth visiting. Some of these include:

  • The Lead Mosque, a beautiful mosque located in the heart of Shkoder.
  • The Shkoder Historical Museum, which is housed in a Venetian-style building and showcases the history of the city.
  • The Orthodox Cathedral of Shkoder, a stunning cathedral that was built in the early 20th century.

Conclusion and summary of the hidden gems of Northern Albania

In conclusion, Shkoder and Lezhe are hidden gems in Northern Albania that are well worth a visit. The highlight of the trip is exploring the majestic Rozafa Castle and learning about its fascinating history. The Marubi Museum and the Tomb of Skanderbeg offer insights into Albania’s rich culture and history. And if you are looking for souvenirs, the local markets offer a wide variety of handmade carpets and traditional Albanian products. So pack your bags and head to Northern Albania for a trip that you will never forget.



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