Kalaja (The Fortress) of Tirana was a road station of the line Egnatia of the type Mansio-Mutatio. It composed the center of inhabitation with a variety of names since the first centuries of our era.Tirkan (in 4-th century of our era), Tergiana (in 1927) when in it was placed the chancellery of its ruler Karli I Anzhu and in today’s form according to Barleti, Tyranna (1505). This type is not still completed.
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But, the fortress, the ancient testimony of the city is right in the place where the two streets, the old and the new one crossed and which linked the capital and then all Albania, north with south, east with west.
A castle of a fortress dominated each of the old ways before you entered to Tirana.
The castle of Lalmi (2-th century of our era) in the hill where Erzen River took the turn and permitted the road passage toward Petrela.
The castle of Tujan, where life traces are encountered since the first period of iron is a stony fortification in a quadrangle shape. Reconstructed in the 4-th century of our era it was the entrance gate of the corridor Dibër-Tiranë-Durrës.
On the other side, near the mountain of Vila, in the straits of Krraba, there is the Illyrian city of the Parthins-Persqopi (3-th century before our era), whose inhabitants later displaced to Petrela.
The castle of Dorëzi that passes through the river of Treza and Piolli (the first period of iron), then the castle of Ndroqi, Preza, Ishmi, altogether these antique and medieval castles made the defensive fence of Tirana. The castle of Tirana was and remained the historic kernel of the area of Tirana and an administrative residence during middle Ages.
As such, it continued even in 17-th century, when the city of Tirana expanded around it by having a filtered citizen center (the social –cultural complex) built by Sulejman Pasha, the crafts and commercial trade from the north view, Namazgjanë and the bridge of Tabakëve from the east side, the government men buildings inside the location of the castle.
The two other sides were raised upon the sides of Lana River.
It is thought that in 1640, Ahmet Beu made the restoration of the walls raising the height in antique structures. The long tower that still has a partially good condition was also a work of his. The castle is damaged again in the period between the inter- feudal wars of the 18-th century, where the troops of Ahmet Kurt Pasha of Berat collided with Bushatllinjtë. The immured people of Tirana defended it with heroism and the castle was not invaded by any of them. To this time belongs the system of embrasure for the fire guns in the highest part of the enclosing walls.
After 1814, the fortress of Tirana becomes residence of its new invaders; Toptans, who came from Kruja and built two houses, one for inhabitation and the other for reception, as it is still today. During the 20-th century, when its original function for defense was lost, there were observed big damages. It lost a part of the enclosing walls and its full stylistic formulation of the building is almost unnoticeable from the rests.
Though, it still remains a governmental residence or the most shown up for them in our days.
In our days in its terrain there are the Academy of Sciences, the National Assembly and the National Gallery of Arts.
Will its history be completely enlightened?
You can trust legends very little. The oral tradition and especially the written sources cannot be dried up. Anyway, there is still a safe way, the architectural tracing with the valuating methods of science of restoring. This illuminative process has started in 2000, through the close collaboration of the Municipality of Tirana with the Institute of Cultural Monuments, which altogether pay an essential attention to this essential monument part of the program ”Return to Identity.“
By this angle of perception the fortress (Kalaja) of Tirana was and should be treated in our époque as the historic and cultural monument of the Capital.
Source: Municipality of Tirana Official Website
Photos: M. Selimollari