Albania was lost to the world from 1950 through 1985 because of the complete meglomaniac paranoia of Enver Hoxha. He started out as a patriotic nationalist, but ended up as an unreformed Stalinist who held absolute power. So convinced was he that ‘reactionary’ Communist forces were going to overthrow him that he had built over 700,000 anti-tank pill boxes. All over the country to this day do these pill boxes stare at you, just waiting for you to make one subversive move.
One of the 700,000+ anti-tank boxes built under the Hoxha regime
another pill box, peering at me from the bus
Yet another one, watching me from a farmer’ field. They are simply all over the place.
Actually, all of them have been decommissioned, with the death of Hoxha in 1985. But his legacy remains.
The Pyramid built to last a ‘1000 years’ in Tirana, Albania, in commemoration of the great leader Hoxha. It was designed by Hoxha’s untrained daughter. City officials closed it down 15 years ago, and it is now caving in. The stairs in front have collapsed. This is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias, all over again.
People’s art, on the outside of the National Museum. But the art inside was definitely worth seeing.
Nominally Muslim Albanians are very appreciative of US efforts in the Balkans. The US led NATO effort and Bill Clinton are much respected here. Here is an exhibit in the Albanian National Museum in appreciation of the Clinton administration’s efforts to stop Serbian aggression in the region.
Emperor Justinian’s wall in Tirana, Albania. 1500 years old, and still standing.
Fitting a square peg into a round hole, in Tirana, Albania.
The Albanians we have met have been wonderfully warm and hospitable. The prices are low and the people have been most fair with us. They want full economic integration with Europe. But they all smoke cigarettes!
We stayed at this resort in the mountains in Southern Albania, at 1,500 meters high and in the snow. Luxury accommodations at a steal, and we were the only ones there. The signs warn you of wild boar, wolves, bears, and larger cats. They mean it.
A view from the mountains of Southern Albania, in the wind and rain.