First traces in Tirana
Human traces, in the territory where nowdays the city of Tirana lies, go back in time. The prehistoric and protohictoric period is represented by the settlement of Pellumbasi Cave which belongs to the Neolithic period.
The materials obtained from this cave by archaelogists have proved that it was inhabited during the Neolithitic,Eneolithitic and Iron age, during III-II centuries B.C, as well as in late antiquity.
The most important prehistoric fortification is the Castel of Tujan.In addition to dating through the surrounding walls,prehistoric pottery has also been encountered there.
Besides them,the prehistoric and protohistoric period is represented by the rock painting of Bovilla and the finds of archeological materials on the surface of the castle of Krraba.
Tirana under the occupation of the Roman Empire
As far as the administrative organization under the Roman Empire at the end of the I century B.C, is concerned, the province of Ilyricum was created which included the provinces of the Northern Ilyria.
While the Parthian lands thought to have inhabited the Tirana area were under the jurisdiction of the Province of Macedonia.
Later,with the coming to power of Diocletian(284-305),an administrative reorganization of the Roman Empire took place,which was divided into 4 prefectures,where the area of Tirana was included in the Illyrian Prefecture,in the province of new Epirus with Dyrrahu as its centre.
Tirana part of the Byzantine Empire
Of great importance is the division of the Roman Empire from which the Ilyrian provinces remained under the jurisdiction of the Byzantine Empire,with the only difference that they now had been turned into provinces of the empire.
Among the most important finds of this period we can mention the treasure of Vrapi, which is thought to have been the property of an Avar kagan, a discovery which is not as well known to the public as the Mosaic of Tirana or its castles, but is very special and valuable for the history of the city.
In the province of the New Epirus the prokop of Caesarea mentions a castle called Tyrkanos from which derives one of the hypotheses about the origin of the name Tirana,but which has not been localized.
Archaeological materials have been found in the castle of Kurora in Selba,in that of Tujan, Pellumbas, Skuterra, Shengjin, Skrep, Bastar, Shtodhri,Vrap and Dajt,which prove that they were inhabited in the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries.The Castle of Krraba with some elements of the defense system built in Late Antiquity, belongs to the same period.The peculiarity of this period is the construction of a separate tower in a cylindrical shape with three floors,where today is the castle of Petrela.
The beginning of the Norman invasions and the Crusades, one of which brought about the conquest of Constantinople itself, turned these provinces into the main theater of hostilities. XII, XIII, XIV century enriched these areas with many buildings of religious character where we can mention the Monastery of St. Mary in Bovilla, the church of St. Kolli in Priska e Vogel, the church of St. Mary in Brar, the Monastery of St. Hilarion in Shërmina , Shuksin the Great (St. Luke), the Hermit church on the Bovilla Staircase, the Abbey of St. Mauritius in the Great Priska which is thought to be of the XIII century, the church of Max-hara in Mullet (XIII-XIV century).
The family which ruled these areas at this time, based on archaeological discoveries especially in those of the church of St.Mary in Brar where the grave of Sebasti Mihal Skura was found, is thought to have been the family of Skuraj, whose traces are thought to be the castle and the medieval church of Shkoder in Skurina today.This area is believed to have been part of the Principate of Arber, under the crown of The Great Archon of Arbery “Demetrio Arbanasi principi”. At that time these territories must have been called Sguria as mentioned in a diploma of Philip of Anjou of Trant or in the Will and memories of John Muzaka in 1360. Later in 1443 Kruja, Tirana, Petrela and the surroundings were liberated by the troops of Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeu, and fell back under Ottoman rule after his death.
The oldest map that presents Tirana for the first time with the language of topographic relief and the name Terrana belongs to 1689, published in Rome by the cartographer Giacomo Cantelli, but 4 other centres around Tirana are mentioned in the cartographic materials starting from 1400, which are Priska e Madhe, Kruja, Petrela and Shen Gjergji (Saint George).
Tirana under the occupation of The Ottoman Empire
Modern Tirana was founded by Sulejman Pashe Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, who built a mosque, a bakery and a hammam. During the Ottoman occupation there were built the Castle of Preza, the Castle of Ndroq and the Castle of Tirana, Et’hem Beu Mosque, the Tomb of Kapllan Pasha and as well as the Grave of Bride in Petrela.
In the 18th century bridges like those of Tabakeve,Terzive,Beshir or cult objects like the Old Mosque, the Mosques of Fires, Red Hill, Karapiceve, the Mosque of Reçi as well as the tekkes of Sheh Pazari, Sheh Dyrit, Dervish Hatixhe, Namazgja etc were built.
In the same period the church of Saint Prokopi was built, which belonged to the orthodox community.The last century of the Ottoman occupation, in the urban and construction plan finds Tirana consisting of two main parts, handicraft-commercial centers and the inhabited one where the houses built of “qerpiç” dominated, as well as other auxiliary accessories and yards filled with flowers.In the second part of XIX century and the beggining of the XX century the inhabitants of Tirana lived in traditional houses like those “ with closed portico” and those called “ houses with corner.”
Independence of Tirana
On November 26, Tirana declared the independence declared publicly by Refik Toptani and the flag was raised by Hamit Bortshi in the building of the sub-prefecture of that time (today known as the building of the Old Library) and meanwhile through the City Council of Tirana mandated Abdi and Murat Toptani to participate in the Assembly of Vlora.What should stand out at this time is the arrival of the large Dibra community who were forced to leave their homes to escape Serbian violence. This left traces not only in the hospitable character of the inhabitants of Tirana but also in the toponyms such as the “Quartier of people of Dibra” and the “Pine Neighborhood”
Tirana as Capital
At the Lushnja Congress on January 21-31, 1920, Tirana was represented by Abdi Toptan and Mytesim Këlliçi. The government that emerged from the Lushnja Congress entered Tirana on February 11, 1920, after being prevented from entering into Durres, the capital of that time. The National Council was located in the building where the Academy of Sciences is located today. The entry of the Government in Tirana also marked its proclamation as the temporary capital of Albania. Ahmet Zogu and his people in the parliament, were the main supporters for the final proclamation of Tirana as the capital, which he made a reality on January 31st, 1925. In March 1925, with the final approval of the Basic Statute of the Republic of Albania and its publication in the Official Journal, Tirana was finally proclaimed the capital city of Albania.
The mission at this moment was to break away from the Ottoman heritage, to become a modern capital and the centre of Albanian political, economic, cultural and educational life.
At that time, Tirana had seven neighbourhoods "Sulejman Pasha", "Ali Beu", "Ismail Efendiu", "Avdulla Beu", "Lagjia e re", "Lagjia e Xhamisë së Sherifit" and "Tregu". The construction of public buildings started, the ministerial complex consisting of 6 ministries, the building of the Municipality, the building of the Albanian National Bank. The regulatory plans were drafted and implemented by the Italian architect Florestano de Fausto, who was based on the work of his colleague Armando Brasini.New streets, boulevards with sidewalks,and lighting system, were opened, such as, “28 Nandori” street, Durrës street, “Musolini” boulevard (today Kavaja street), “Mbretnore” street (today “Barrikadat” street), Hoxha Tahsim street, “Zogu I” boulevard, etc.
In the area of Shallvare, New Tirana began to come to life, the cemetery near the mosques was removed and the Ministry Square known as "Skënderbej" Square was built, as well as the upper part of the Clock Tower was remodeled. The first public park known as the "People's Park" was opened in 1923, in the northeast square of the current Assembly building. Cafes, restaurants, hotels, fashion salons and dance halls were built, modern villas that gave a new look to the city centre. Private enterprises developed and the hotel sector began to grow.