Tirana is the capital of Albania. It enjoys a beautiful setting between the ranges of Dajti mountain from one side and the coastal plains on the other one. Relatively a new city Tirana was founded in 1614 by Sulejmen Pashe Bargjini, feudal lord of that time from this region and proclaimed capital in 1920. However the area has been inhabited as early back as the Neolitic period. The ruins of the castle of first century A.D. which is likely to be the castle mentioned with the name Tirkan by Byzantine historian Procop (VI century) have been unearthed in the foot of Dajti mountain.
Still rapidly growing Tirana is a busy commercial and administrative center with several comfortable hotels, restaurants, discos, pubs as well as modern facilities for conventions and conferences.
City attractions include the monument of National Hero G.K.Scanderbeg in the busy Scanderbeg square, the Mosque of Ethem Bey (1798 – 1823) and the Clock Tower (1830) , 35 meters high . From its top the visitor can observe a wide view of Scanderbeg Square.
Worth mentioning are also the monuments of Tabakeve Bridge ( first half of XIX century) , and the monument of Mother Albania at the Cemetery of National Marthyrs.
It is always nice to have a walk in the Grand Park, lying in the southern part of the city and extending over an area of 250 hectars with an artificial lake included. It has 120 kind of plants, decorative shrubs and flowers of various colours. Tirana hosts several museums, artistic and scientific institutions, among which the most important are National Historical Museum, Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Nature Sciences, Opera and Balet Theatre, Drama and Variety Show, the Gallery of Fine Arts, the International Center of Culture, The Palace of Congres and Exhibition Halls.
Only a short drive east of Tirana there is Dajti mountain (25 km). It offers numerous opportunities all year round for excursions and recreation. Its unspoilt nature attracts many visitors during all seasons. Dajti is also a National Park, rich in diversity of flora and fauna.
One of the most interesting places to see round Tirana is Petrela village with its fortress. Only 15 km southeast of Tirana, Petrela has been known as a dwelling place as early as back 2000 years ago in the ruins of the Illyrian town of Presqopi. In that time the town is supposed to be used as a residential place for Illyrian King, Glauk. The most interesting object is the medieval castle, rising on a rocky hill. This castle has been under the command of Mamica Kastrioti, the Scanderbeg sister. The area round Petrela offers a unique landscape of broken hills covered by olive trees. In the south east direction from Tirana near the gorge of Erzeni river there is a carstic cave, called the Black Cave or the Dove Cave. It is located only 18 km far away from the capital.