Have you ever heard of Korçë? If not, it is time to go there and check this unique Albanian town for yourself! You will be surprised how interesting this place is.
Korçë is situated not far from North Macedonia, 19 km from Greece on a plateau around 850 m (2,789 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by the Morava Mountains. Korçë is the 6th biggest city of Albania (75,994 inhabitants) and definitely one of the most charming ones. It is known for their serenates, biggest carnival organized in Albania, good beer and spectacular views. Saze (Albanian traditional clarinet) music is played throughout southern Albania and in Korçë and you can admire here also “valle” (a typical Albanian dance) of Dardha or Devolli.
In Korçë I was amazed by its architecture: houses and grand villas from the 20s and 30s., streets paved with cobblestone. Truly beautiful.
Cultural and Culinary Korçë
The city of Korçë offers a range of interesting museums such as the Education Museum (located in the building where the first Albanian school opened in 1887), the National Museum of Medieval Art, the Prehistoric Museum, the House-Museum of the famous landscape painter, Vangjush Mio, the Museum of the Oriental Art “Bratko”, Gjon Mili Photography Museum.
You also have to visit The Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral of Korçë. It is the main Albanian Orthodox Church here built in 1995 by Greece. It is painted in pink, blue and brown. A previous cathedral in Korçë named after St. Geroge was destroyed by the communists in 1968. Inside you can admire a huge carved wooden iconostasis.
You definitely have to stroll across Bulevardi Republika with cafes and restaurants and Old Bazaar: old market with shops and various modern and traditional restaurants cafes and bakeries. In Korçë you can enjoy delicious food in many taverns with tasteful traditional cooking such as various types of pie. In many restaurants you can also listen to live music and try local raki, beer or Albanian wine.
Villages and Byzantine churches
While visiting Korçë you should also explore villages located in the nearby mountains, such as Voskopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi and Boboshtica.
Voskopoja is located 21 km (13 miles) away from Korçë, 1160 meters above the sea and used to be a cultural center since 1330. It is here where the first printing press outside Istanbul was located. This village is surrounded by hills and forests and is a perfect destination for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. We loved the Byzantine churches in Voskopoja, more than 24 were built there. The Monastery of St. John the Baptist (Manastiri i Shën Prodhromit), the Church of St. Mary (Kisha e Shën Marisë), the Church of Saint Athanasius (Kisha e Shën Athanasit), the Church of Saint Nicholas (Kisha e Shën Kollit) are just some of them.
Close to Korçë you can visit Prespa Lake (which is the country’s largest National Park).
- How to plan your holidays?
We were supported professionally by a young tourist organization: Travelling Albania which specializes in Albania and can support you as well in North Macedonia.
2. How to get there: There is an international airport in Tirana.
Rent a Car: There are many companies renting a car. We rented ours by Tisa Tours& Rent a Car, highly professional and experienced company offering tailored solutions.
They can also take care of arranging the Macedonian green car card for you if you want to combine visiting Albania and North Macedonia.
3. Where to stay?
There are quite a few options, for example a private hotel located in the original building of Korce: Bujtina e Bardhe, located centrally, just behind the Cathedral. https://www.facebook.com/BujtinaeBardhe/
4. Where to eat?
We recommend Taverna ‘Tradita’ where you can try authentic food and see photos of old Korçë. https://www.facebook.com/TavernaTraditaKorce/
In Voskopoja we tried Vila Falo and it offers delicious authentic food and there is also a garden with the playground for children. https://www.facebook.com/Vila-Falo-Voskopoje-325261024277097/
General info about Albania
Republic of Albania is located in Southeast Europe at the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Meditterranean Sea. It borders with Montenegro to the northwest,Kosovo to the northeast,North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and has a maritime border with Greece and Italy to the west.
Its area covers 28,748 km and population equals 2,876,591 ( 2017). The capital city is Tirana.
Albania is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic. Official language is Albanian. Recognised minority languages are Aromanian, Greek, Macedonian. Currency is Lek (ALL)
Sources: https://travellingalbania.com/nl/, local leaflets, Wikipedia, Albania.al, intoalbania.com
Photos: Communications-Unlimited.nl. © Copyright www.communications-unlimited.nl, 2019. All rights reserved.