A Former Closed Country
After World War II, Albania became a closed country under a Marxist-Leninist regime, and it stayed that way for 30 years. Today, it’s open and thriving, and hopeful about to join the European Union. But Albania does have a fascinating and dark history of being conquered and closed-off. Albania has been a part of the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and then finally became a self-contained communist state.
The country is maybe most famous for the Albanian Riviera (which is also sometimes called Bregu). This is an amazing strip of coastline on the southwestern corner of Albania, and it features picturesque towns, beaches, resorts, and landmarks. Like Butrint, a remnant of an ancient Greek city, and Borsh, the largest beach on all of the Ionian Sea.
Head to Berat or Gjirokaster, some of the oldest towns in Europe, and you can stay at an old Ottoman house. Both cities climb up the side of a hill and are made up mostly of perfectly uniformed, symmetrical Ottoman houses. They’re a fascinating and unique sight you can’t find elsewhere in Europe. These houses were built in the revival style during the final era of the Ottoman Empire.
Albania has a lot to offer – from the pristine white sand beaches to the quaint Ottoman houses. But it’s also home to some magical places like The Blue Eye. This place is a natural spring of sapphire-coloured water which turns into a river in the south of Albania. The deepest point is believed to be 50 metres deep (though no one knows for sure), and the whole area is more of less untouched.