Kruja

Kruja is considered by many as the birthplace of modern Albania. The old town is housed within the byzantine fortified complex guarded by 12 towers. The national museum celebrating Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeg features a dramatic mountaintop castle setting in Krujë, Albania. Skenderbeg was a 15th century Albanian lord whose formidable military strategy skills defended Albania from Ottoman invasion for over two decades. After inheriting his father’s land and titles in 1437, he originally served as a vassal of Sultan Murad II. After leaving the Ottoman army on the battlefield during the Battle of Niš in 1443, Skenderbeg helped initiate the Albanian independence movement from both Ottoman rule and Venetian control in the mid-1400’s, solidifying his home base at Krujë castle. Skenderbeg was a close vassal of Alfonso V of Aragon, and helped support Alfonso’s rule in the territories he controlled as King of Naples. Ottoman troops attempted to besiege Kruja castle three times, once in 1450, again in 1466 and for the last time in 1467. All attempts were unsuccessful due to the castle’s highly defensible location on a bare rock outcropping. In the winter of 1468, Skenderbeg eventually succumbed to malaria and died. He was considered a hero in his own time, particularly by Christian Europeans who venerated his successful resistance against the Muslim Turks. His popularity was so great and widespread that biographical novels were published in multiple languages and countries throughout the 16th – 18th centuries. The museum located at Skenderbeg’s home base in Kruja contains exhibits chronicling his life and military exploits, with paintings, armor, and other artifacts from the period. A replica of the hero’s famous goat head-topped helmet is on display; however the original is housed in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. The old bazaar is also part of the complex, which features an Ethnographic Museum. Visitors will be introduced to a stunning view of the valley and the city underneath, along with a wide and pleasant terrace for views.