Rozafa Fortress

Top choice in Shkodra

With spectacular views over the city and Lake Shkodra, the Rozafa Fortress is the most impressive sight in town. Founded by the Illyrians in antiquity and rebuilt much later by the Venetians and then the Turks, the fortress takes its name from a woman who was allegedly walled into the ramparts as an offering to the gods so that the construction would stand.

The story goes that Rozafa, the unfortunate woman chosen to be walled-up in the castle for good luck, asked that two holes be left in the stonework so that she could continue to breastfeed her baby. There's a spectacular wall sculpture of her near the entrance to the castle's museum. There's little left to see inside the castle itself, save the ruins of various structures and the impressive walls. When exploring the quieter corners of the castle grounds, keep your eyes peeled for one of the many tortoises who have made the castle their home.

The castle is 3.5km south of the city centre. Grab a bicycle (many of the hotels rent them out) and enjoy the ride down here. Afterwards you could cross over the river and explore the fishing villages and big open countryside to the south of the castle. If cycling is too energetic, take one of the municipal buses (30 lekë) that stop near the turn-off to the castle. Or a taxi to the entrance costs 300 lekë from the city centre.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Shkodra attractions

1. Rozafa Fortress Museum

0.09 MILES

The small museum inside the Rozafa Fortress is worth a look for anyone interested in the history of the fortress and town and covers the neolithic period…

2. Site of Witness & Memory Museum

1.73 MILES

During the communist period this building, which started life as a Franciscan seminary, was officially used as the Shkodra headquarters of the Ministry of…

3. Ebu Bekr Mosque

1.79 MILES

Known more commonly to locals as the Great Mosque, this impressive centrepiece to the city actually dates from the 18th century, but was fully renovated…

4. Marubi National Photography Museum

1.88 MILES

The Marubi Museum is a one-of-a-kind Albanian photographic museum. The core of the collection is the impressive work of the Marubi 'dynasty', Albania's…

5. Mother Theresa statue

16.32 MILES

Aptly located at Ulcinj's medical clinic is a statue of Mother Theresa, the most famous Albanian of recent years (although she was actually born in North…

7. Lamit Mosque

16.78 MILES

Lamit Mosque dates from 1689 but was substantially rebuilt after the 1979 earthquake. The ceiling has interesting green-painted geometric wood panelling.

8. Mezjah Mosque

16.79 MILES

Set back slightly from the road, the 1728 Mezjah Mosque is Ulcinj’s main Islamic place of worship. Inside there's a sloping floor and wooden mezzanine.