Shkodra, also known as the “capital of north Albania” it is one of the oldest cities in the country, founded in the 4th century B.C. as the center of the Labeat tribe of Illyrians. Shkodra has been occupied several times throughout history by Romans (168 B.C.), then the Serbians (1040), the Venetians (1396), and finally by the Ottomans (1479). The city was returned to Albanian control as the feudal principality of the Balshaj during the 14th century and served as the municipal center of the Bushatllinj Pashallëk from 1757 to 1831. Shkodra is rich in cultural heritage; the city itself as well as the people bears the pride that the large number of artists, musicians, painters, photographers, poets, and writers born here strove to create. Rozafa castle, rising majestically upon a rocky hill west of the city, the outcroppings and battlements paint a blazing picture against the setting sun. It is surrounded by the waters of three rivers; Drini, Buna, and Kiri. Much like the town it protected, the castle has Illyrian origins. Like all ancient works, the castle comes with a popular local legend. Historians tell us a less enchanting and more scientific background of the castle’s characteristics. It reflects the dominion of the Balshaj family but passed through enough other ruling periods that each left their own signs and markings on the grounds, including a distinct Venetian flare, some Ottoman architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries, and even a few modifications from the Bushatllinj family during the 18th and 19th centuries. Within the castle walls is a museum where a discerning lover of antiquities could spend a comfortable afternoon reading more of the history, and a restaurant has been added to showcase local food and traditional dress.
Shkodra Lake is located in northwestern Albania and is the largest lake in the entire Balkan Peninsula, with an area of 368 hectares. The lake is shared between Albania and Montenegro, of which 149 hectares and 57 km of shoreline fall within the Albanian territory. According to local legend, there was only a small brook fed by a water spring where the lake is today. One evening a young woman who was collecting water at the spring received the news that her husband had just returned home after years of traveling abroad. She jumped up for joy and ran home, forgetting to put back the rocks that blocked the water from running. The water flowed the whole night and the next day the Shkodra Lake was created. In reality, the lake is sourced by the Morača River, and drains into the Adriatic via the Bojana River.