How is life in northern Albania?

in #travelling7 years ago

It means that maybe Premier League will not be aired in northern Albania because irony is a beautiful creature. In northern Albania, lies the city of Kukës, or how we call the UK, New Kukës. Northern Albania is a sensitive topic. Both historically, geographically and literary. So to scratch the surface, here I go.

Getting to know and understand life in northern Albania, you should be acquainted with the word Mountainhood (Malësia). People of this region were called (and to an extent still are) Mountaineers (Malësorë).  Mountainhood throughout history has always praised it’s lands,  mountains and the blood of the children who fell to protect it  throughout the ages. This is a cultural attitude that can be found in  Montenegro (Black Mountain), northern Albania, Kosovo and southern  Serbia.

In my  opinion, the man whose influence was felt the most inside northern  Albania, is probably Lekë Dukagjini, the Prince of Peace, who fought  alongside the Dragon Prince. Even today, remote areas rely on the Kanun,  a set of rules and laws, considered in certain instances to be a  leftover from Illyrian times, or even Indo-European prehistoric areas.

Given  Albanian history, and I want to emphasise recent totalitarian  dictatorship, the north has been one of the least developed and most  neglected areas. It's inhabitants had to, therefore, rely heavily on  self-governance. This automatically positions northern Albania out of time.  I am looking for a word that resembles anachronistic, but at the same  time, recognizes progress. A parallel time-line if you will.

In a way, I do envy these people! They abide to honesty and dishonesty, something that modern society has learned to dress and masquerade, is punishable by death . The scenery is astonishing and terrifying at the same time. In English you will find them under the name Accursed Mountains - in Albanian Bjeshkët e Namuna. 

Pictured above part of the Valbona Valley, Accursed Mountains. Taken from Wikipedia

If you  are a tourist I highly recommend getting a guide. Forget we are in  2017, forget you are somewhere in Europe, in the vicinity of countries  like Croatia, Montenegro, Italy or Greece. You will  probably get lost and without survival training you will die. You need  to know the customs and customs are the most important.

In the Kanun  that I mention above, property is treated as sanctimonious. Nothing,  and no one, is allowed to touch it. Even if the family leaves it behind  without selling, no one shall sit and claim it. While you might feel  protected by other holy rules, such as that of the hospitality, life in northern Albania is infamous for property disputes that end in the death of the trespasser, never-ending blood feuds or other grim punishments.

In the  beginning of the twentieth century, Karl Steinmetz ventured from  Shkodra to Prizren. This is a collection of photographs of the time.

Pictures above taken from:

While  it may be rare, it won’t be impossible to go and take the same pictures  today. Maybe with fewer weapons and less traditional clothing, but the  feeling of being in a different place and time is still there. This is the part that fascinates me and I strongly disagree with people treating them as if they are inferior.

Today, life is much different than one century ago, technology has found its way in the North. It is not surprising to take a ferry boat travelling between mountains, or even sunbathe in the Koman lake.

This very strong people that I picture above, are some of the finest craftsmen of Venetian Masks; An attraction in the city of Shkodra. 

Hop over TripAdvisor to learn more.

Life in northern Albania is  complicated, hard, striving and rewarding as a human being.


Well preserved, until now at least :p

Great post :) Really enjoyed reading it! :)

Have to say... the "Accursed Mountains" look beautiful, despite the name :)

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