Elbasan, located in central Albania, is a city with a rich history, stunning natural landscapes, and a vibrant culture. Here are some of the best places and things to do in Elbasan for travelers looking to explore this hidden gem.
1. Elbasan Castle
Start your journey by visiting Elbasan Castle, a medieval fortress that dates back to the 15th century. The castle walls offer panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains, and you can explore its towers, ramparts, and gates. Inside the castle, you’ll find the Ethnographic Museum, which showcases traditional Albanian costumes, weapons, and artifacts.
2. King Mosque
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Mosque,_Elbasan
The King Mosque, also known as Sultan Mosque, is one of the oldest and most important mosques in Elbasan. Built during the Ottoman era, the mosque features stunning Ottoman architecture, intricate tile work, and beautiful calligraphy. Visitors can marvel at the mosque’s grandeur and learn about its history and significance to the local community.
3 Shkumbin River
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shkumbin
The Shkumbin River runs through Elbasan and is a great place to enjoy water sports like kayaking and fishing. Visitors can also walk along the river banks and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
4. St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church is one of the most ancient churches in Albania, located in the heart of Elbasan. The church dates back to the 6th century, and it has been restored several times over the centuries, most recently in the 20th century. The church features impressive frescoes and icons that showcase the history of Christianity in Albania. It is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture, with a cruciform plan, a dome, and a narthex. The church also has a belfry that was built in the 19th century. St. Mary’s Church is a significant religious and cultural landmark in Elbasan and a must-visit for anyone interested in history and architecture.
5. Clock Tower Sahati
The Clock Tower Sahati, also known as the Sahat-Kulla, is a historic landmark located in the center of Elbasan. It was built in the 18th century during the Ottoman period and served as a watchtower to keep track of time and to alert the residents of danger. The tower stands at 23 meters high and is topped with a clock and a bell that chimes every hour. Visitors can climb up the narrow spiral staircase inside the tower to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. The Clock Tower Sahati is an iconic symbol of Elbasan and a popular tourist attraction, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history and cultural heritage.
6. Mosque Pasha
Mosque Pasha, also known as the Pasha Mosque, is a historic mosque located in the center of Elbasan. It was built in the 15th century by the Ottoman governor Gjergj Pasha, and it is considered one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture in Albania. The mosque features a large dome, a minaret, and a spacious courtyard that can accommodate up to 1,000 worshippers. The interior of the mosque is decorated with intricate geometric patterns and calligraphy
7. Shebenik Jabllanice National Park
Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park is characterized by its diverse landscapes, including forests, alpine meadows, and rocky peaks. It is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including several endemic and rare species such as the Balkan lynx, brown bear, gray wolf, chamois, and golden eagle. Visitors to Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park can enjoy hiking, camping, and wildlife watching, as well as exploring the park’s cultural and historical attractions.
8. Syri i Cikllopit
Image Source: https://sq.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syri_i_Cikllopit
Syri i Cikllopit, which translates to “the eye of the Cyclops” in English, is a natural wonder located on the coast of Albania. It is a natural sea cave with a small opening that allows light to enter, creating a unique blue-green color that illuminates the water inside. Syri i Cikllopit has become a popular tourist destination in Albania due to its unique beauty and mythical associations. It is also a popular spot for photographers and filmmakers looking to capture its natural beauty on camera.
9. Cave of Pellumbas
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_P%C3%ABllumbas
The Cave of Pellumbas is a natural cave located in the foothills of the Skanderbeg Mountains in central Albania. It is a popular tourist attraction due to its natural beauty and the archaeological discoveries made inside the cave. The cave itself is over 360 meters long and features a small underground river and several chambers with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors can explore the cave with the help of a guide, who will explain the history and geology of the cave.
10. Kabashi Cave
Kabashi Cave is a natural limestone cave that stretches for about 200 meters underground. The cave has several large chambers and is decorated with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. It is believed that the cave was formed millions of years ago as a result of the erosion of limestone rock by water.
11. Canyons of Erzen River
The Canyons of Erzen River are a series of natural canyons located in central Albania, along the Erzen River. The canyons are a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers due to their scenic beauty and opportunities for hiking, rafting, and kayaking. The canyons are carved into the limestone rock by the Erzen River and feature steep cliffs, deep gorges, and clear water pools. The area is also home to a variety of flora and fauna, including several species of birds and fish.
12. Royal Tombs of Selca e Poshtme
The Royal Tombs of Selca e Poshtme are an archaeological site located in central Albania, near the village of Selca e Poshtme. The site dates back to the 4th century BCE and contains several tombs believed to belong to Illyrian royalty. The tombs were discovered in 1958 by a team of Albanian archaeologists and have since been excavated and studied extensively. The tombs are carved into the natural rock formations and feature elaborate decorations and inscriptions.
13. Shengjergji Waterfall
The waterfall is approximately 25 meters high and is located in a lush green area surrounded by forests and mountains. The water cascades down the rocks, creating a pool at the base of the waterfall that is perfect for swimming during the hot summer months. Visitors to Shengjergji Waterfall can access it by hiking through the forested area that surrounds it. The hike is relatively easy, and the trail is well-marked. Once at the waterfall, visitors can relax on the rocks, swim in the pool, and take in the beautiful scenery.
14. Petrelë Castle
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrel%C3%AB_Castle
The castle dates back to the 4th century AD, when it was built by the Romans. Over the centuries, it has been used by various rulers, including the Byzantines, the Ottoman Turks, and the Albanian feudal lords. It played an important role in the defense of Albania against various invading forces.
Elbasan is a hidden gem in Albania with its rich history, stunning natural landscapes, delicious cuisine, and vibrant culture. From exploring ancient castles and archaeological sites to indulging in local culinary delights and experiencing traditional festivals, there is something for everyone in Elbasan. So, if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Albania, make sure to put Elbasan on your travel itinerary!
Places and Things To Do