National History Museum

Top choice museum in Tirana

Image by Patrick Syder Getty Images

The largest museum in Albania holds many of the country's archaeological treasures and a replica of Skanderbeg's massive sword (how he held it, rode his horse and fought at the same time is a mystery). The lighting might be poor but fortunately the excellent collection is almost entirely signed in English and takes you chronologically from ancient Illyria to the postcommunist era. The collection of statues, mosaics and columns from Greek and Roman times is breathtaking.

A disturbing and very important gallery devoted to those who suffered persecution under the communist regime is the most recent addition to the collection, though frustratingly almost none of this display is in English. Another highlight is a terrific exhibition of icons by Onufri, a renowned 16th-century Albanian master of colour. The modernist mosaic adorning the museum's facade is entitled Albania and shows Albanians victorious and proud from Illyrian times through to WWII, with some unsurprisingly communist overtones.


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