Shkodra, it is one of the oldest cities in the country, founded in the 4th century B.C. as the center of the Labeat tribe of Illyrians known with the name Scodra.
Shkodra has been occupied several times throughout history: The first was by the Romans (168 B.C.), then the Serbians (1040), the Venetians (1396), and finally by the Ottomans (1479).
The city returned to Albanian control as the feudal principality of the Balshaj during the 14th century and served as the municipal center of the Bushatllinj Pashallëk from 1757 to 1831. Shkodra is very rich in cultural heritage, the city itself as well as the people bear pride in the large number of artists, musicians, painters, photographers, poets, and writers born here. Shkodra’s main tourist attraction is Rozafa Castle. Rising majestically upon a rocky hill west of the city, the outcroppings and battlements paint a blazing picture against the setting sun.
It is surrounded by the waters of three rivers; the Drini, Buna, and Kiri. According to the historian Tit Livi, “it was the strongest area of the Labeats.” Like all ancient works, the castle comes with a popular local legend from which the caste takes the name. Rozafa was the name of the bride of the youngest of three brothers who originally built the castle. The three men worked tirelessly by day laying mortar and stone but the walls always crumbled over the night.
Consulting a wise man, they learned that to be able to finish the castle that would last through the ages, one of their wives needed to be entombed within the walls. The brothers made a heart-wrenching pact not to alert their wives to this danger, and whoever brought her husband his noon meal the following day would be sacrificed. The elder brothers broke their word however, and it was Rozafa, the wife of the younger brother who came with food.
When she heard the proclamation, she wept for her newborn son and for her husband, but allowed herself to become a living part of the walls so that the castle could be built. According to both legend and local folklore, the calcareous water flowing at the entrance of the castle is the milk flowing from one of her breasts, which she requested be left exposed so that she could feed her baby. She also pleaded for one foot and one arm to be left free, in order to rock her son’s cradle at night and sooth him during the day.
Historians tell us a less enchanting and more scientific background of the castle’s characteristics. It reflects the dominion of the Balshaj family but passed through enough other ruling periods that each left their own signs and markings on the grounds, including a distinct Venetian flare, some Ottoman architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries, and even a few modifications from the Bushatllinj family during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Within the castle walls is a museum where a discerning lover of antiquities could spend a comfortable afternoon reading more about its history, and a restaurant has been added to showcase local food and traditional dress.
Close to the city lies Lake Shkodra (Skadar), the largest lake in the Balkans with a surface area of 368 km2 (149 km2 in Albanian waters). The lake is notable for its different banks: the southern bank is high and rocky while the northern one is low and marshy
Famous for their fishing, both villages contain restaurants serving the most popular local dish, baked carp. Every August 15th the Catholic pilgrimage of Shën Rrok, or Saint Rocco, is observed in Shiroka to celebrate the historic protector of the town.
In addition to leisure activity, the lake constitutes a very important ecosystem with 281 species of birds and 45 species of fish including carp, eel. The beach of Velipoja is only 22 km away from the city of Shkodra. Possessing unusually high iodine content, the long shoreline is famous for its therapeutic sand
Besides swimming and fishing, the surrounding scenery offers many fascinating natural landscapes worth seeing, such as the small island of Franz Joseph located at the mouth of the Buna River, close to the Montenegrin border.
Shkodra is one of the most important cities of Albania and is also known to be the center of Albanian Catholicism, Culture and Harmony between different religions.
You can visit the renewed Marubi National Museum of Photography famous for its big and rare collection of photos over Albanian history or just take a tour at Pedonalja so called Kole Idromeno street that is the old center of Shkodra, very mediterranean taste passing through mosques and churches.
The lake of Shkodra is also suggested to visit, to bath, or to eat some of the best dishes of Albanian cuisine like Krap ne tave typical for this region.