Sight seeing in Korça

1000 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

September, 2019

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

Partner

Reasons for trip

We stayed in Korça, south east Albania for three nights. Before checking into the “Bujtina Sidheri”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/accommodation/200646-review-bujtina-sidheri, we began our sightseeing with:

Meadow of Tears – a grassy area, just on the edge of town, which was the spot where in the 19th and 20th centuries families would wave goodbye to their emigrant menfolk. Now it contains a huge row of modern statues, which were apparently the entrants in a sculpture competition (we later saw the winning sculptures outside the Municipality Building).

Martyrs’ Cemetery – perched high on a hill overlooking the town. There was a huge statue of a soldier, arm held aloft, surrounded by numerous graves built into the sides, all from either 1911 or 1944.

On our official half-day sightseeing tour, we began at:

Iljaz bej Mirahori Mosque – said to be the oldest mosque in the Balkans having been erected in 1496. An earthquake in 1960 damaged the original minaret and clock tower, the latter having been rebuilt only five years ago. Inside were frescoes of Mecca and Medina and above the altar, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. They’d all been renovated, as they’d been whitewashed during the communist period. The mosque had been declared a cultural monument and therefore, unlike many religious buildings, had not been damaged. I was invited to go up the minaret to the woman’s balcony and whilst I’ve visited many mosques, this was a new experience and I was surprised how incredibly narrow and steep the twelve stairs were.

Bazaar – the buildings, many with balconies, date back to the 18th century and would have originally been separated into areas for wool, cheese and women (not where women were traded, but where the women traded). There have been three fires since, mainly due to the amount of wood used in their construction. Many of the buildings, around the narrow-cobbled streets, were closed and we were told this is because the Government only want bars, restaurants or antique shops, so owners wanting to sell other goods, are refusing to open. A ‘misunderstanding’ with the government has resulted in a brown three storey building with wrought iron balcony, originally the home of a wealthy merchant, simply been left. This was such a shame for a beautiful building.

We returned to the bazaar in the evening to visit the characterful bars and restaurants with their outside tables and chairs. Kafe Komiteti, was more like a museum from the communist era with a loo which our guidebook said looked like a raki still. We thought it resembled a butternut squash. Kafe Kooperativa served us two glasses of wee-coloured, luke-warm white wine and charged 100 Lek more than Kafe Komiteti. Whilst the Beatles Bar, had uncomfortable coloured chairs and tables and staff, busy on their mobiles, who appeared to think customers were a nuisance.

Andon Zako Çajupi Theatre – had been built during the communist era and reconstructed two years ago. The outside was decorated with individual facial masks, but all designed by the same person. It’s named after a writer, Andon Zako Çajupi, and seats around 300 to 400 with tickets costing a realistic €3 to €5.

Panorama tower – is a viewing tower built about 7 years ago at great cost. For this reason, it’s unpopular with locals who consider the views from the Martyrs’ Cemetery are as good. Its location in what is known as ‘Theatre Square’, means it obliterates views of the theatre. It’s a rather ugly building and known locally as the ‘toothbrush tower’.

The Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral – built in 1995 on the site of a previous church destroyed by the communists in 1968. As Mass had just finished, we were able to go in and see the paintings on the walls of the saints: males on the right and females on the left. Floor mosaics apparently act as a calendar with the light shining through the windows.

Boulevard Shen Gjergji – is one of the main pedestrianised streets, and one we’d walked down the previous day. But our guide’s insight into the eclectic buildings was fascinating and the most interesting were:

A ‘virtual church’ had the original footprint of a church destroyed by the communists marked out on the pavement. Stones were said to have been taken from the church to build an unused tennis court. Part of the footprint is now a library and when it was being built, the government disliked the design and the architect was sentenced to prison for one year: this was deemed to be a light sentence.

A striking yellow painted building known as the Romanian House but actually the Gjon Mili Museum of Photography. Inside we looked around the exhibition of photos of many famous people, including Picasso, and we could have spent longer learning about Mili’s technique using stroboscopic light.

Grey concrete apartment blocks built during the communist era.

The first Albanian school built in 1887 when only Ottoman schools or separate girls’ schools were allowed – this was a mixed school. It is now the Museum of Education but was closed as it had been affected by an earthquake earlier in June 2019.

Brewery – Korça beer is ubiquitous in Albania and although the brewery has tours, unfortunately we didn’t have time in our itinerary.

Korça has clearly been impacted by the communist regime and today’s Government still seem to be creating problems for what we found to be an interesting town.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.