If you want to escape the crowded beaches, the intense summer heat, or the monotonous winter in big cities, and if you are fond of nature, forests, mountains, lakes, or interested in old stories and a special ecclesiastic atmosphere, then you would definitely enjoy visiting Korça and the vicinity. Korça, a city with a favourable climate, hospitable and hard-working people, illustrious culture and traditions, and an endless array of holidays, is waiting to be explored. Do not hesitate, you will have a fabulous experience in Korça!
The City of Korça is one of the main cities in Albania. Located in south-eastern Albania, it lies at the foot of the Morava Mountain, at 869 metres above sea-level. The Korça area is rich in underground sources, and rivers, with the Devoll River, branching off into the tributaries of Dunavec and Upper Osum, which is the most important one. The sources of three rivers in Albania (Devoll, Shkumbin and Osum) are found in this area. The lakes include Prespa e Madhe (Prespa Major) and Prespa e Vogël (Prespa Minor). North of Korça by 41 km is the town of Pogradec; 45 km to the south is the town of Erseka; 27 km to the east is Bilisht; and to the west is the town of Skrapar. The capital city of Tirana is 181 km away.
By Air: Through Mother Teresa Airport in Rinas.
By Sea: Through to main ports: Durrës and Vlora.
On Land: If you come from Kosovo, you should follow this path: E-851 (Morinë-Kukës-Milot-Mamurras-Fushë Krujë-Vorë), which here, take the road to SH3 (Tiranë-Elbasan-Librazhd-Prrenjas-Pogradec-Korçë) [406 km]. If you come from Montenegro, you must follow this path: E-762 (Hani Hotit-Shkoder-Lezhë-Laç-Fushë Krujë-Vorë), which here take the road to SH3 (Tiranë-Elbasan-Librazhd-Prrenjas-Pogradec-Korçë) [327 km]. If you come from Macedonia, could follow this path: SH3 (Qafë Thanë-Pogradec-Korçë) [65 km]. If you come from Greece, across the border in Kapshtica, must follow this path: SH3 (Kapshticë-Korçë) [35.3 km]. If you come from Greece, across the border in Kakavi, must follow this path: SH4 (Kakavi-Gjirokastër) [30.7 km], and than turn right to take the road to (Këlcyrë-Përmet-Çarshovë-Leskovik-Ersekë-Korçë) [190.3 km].
Archaeological finds in the Korça Plain reveal that it was inhabited as early as the Neolithic Age. The chronicles of the history and genealogy of the important Albanian feudal family of the Muzakajs, written by Gjon Muzakaj in 1510, represent the most ancient written source referring to the existence of the city of Korça. While itemising the possessions of Andre Muzaka I, who held the title of Sebastrocator between 1280 and 1281, and became lord of a wide province stretching from Central Albania as far as the Vjosa River in the south, and including Myzeqeja, Tomorica, Opera, Devoll and Kostur, with the town of Berat as its administrative centre, he makes mention of the region of Korça, which he calls a city. The censuses carried out in Korça and Përmet between 1431 and 1432, following the Ottoman occupation, indicate that the region of Korça had been incorporated into a vilayet with Korça as its centre, which the Turks called Gjorixhe. Korça itself is referred to as a castle inhabited by 26 households. It was no accident that the Turks decided to make Korça the centre of the region. Korça was already an established important economic centre, with a favourable position, a castle situated in the Old Bazaar, and strong economy. In 1723, the first Greek school was established. In 1783, Korça fell into Ali Pasha Tepelena’s hands. In the second half of the 19th century, it developed into one of the biggest economic, trade and cultural centres nationwide, with its large characteristic Bazaar occupying a special place among the cultural monuments across the other Albanian cities and towns. At that time, Korça was famous for the processing of wool and homespun wool flannel, and carpet making. During the Renaissance, the people in the Korça region had an important role to play in the movement for reviving the national feeling. It produced eminent patriots who fought with their pen and rifle for the Homeland. The outcome of the extensive activity in which numerous immigrant patriots were involved, was the opening of the First Albanian School on 7 March 1887, and the First School for Girls in 1891. A number of figures, involved in the uprisings for independence (1911-1912) and the efforts for national culture, stood out at this period. Between 1912 and 1914, Korça fell into the Greek chauvinist troops’ hands. During the First War World, it was occupied by Austro-Hungary. Later on, it fell under the Greeks, and then, under the French forces (October 1916), which left in 1920. On 10 December 1916, the Autonomous Republic, which was also called the French Republic of Korça, was founded.5. Population, Religion, Economy
Population The city of Korça registers a population of around 86,176 inhabitants, with an almost equal number of females and males. The Albanian population in the city and its environs also consists of Walachians, Slavs and Romanians, Roma and Egyptian.
Religion Two religions co-exist harmoniously in Korça: the Orthodox religion and the Moslem religion.
Economy Economically speaking, Korça used to be one of the most important centres in the region, in which trade of agricultural products with other countries took place. The Old Bazaar, wherein people could easily find various handicrafts and agricultural products, was the key to the economic development of the city of Korça. At present, Korça is home to one of the biggest food-processing businesses nationwide for the production of flour, sugar, meat, salami, diary foods, drinks, and snail canning. Agricultural products account for 32 per cent of overall revenues. Great prospects are in store for the small and medium agro-business enterprises, and consequently, for the size and relevance of the agricultural sector in the Korça District.
Folk Costumes By late 19th century, the fustanella was the commonest male dress. Later on, it was replaced by the poture. The commonest female dress included a long shirt and an apron. Metallic belts and plates with decorated elements were characteristic of the Korça female dress.
Songs (Serenades) Korça serenades are characteristic lyrical songs accompanied by guitar, which have made Korça famous across Albania. Extolling refined feelings, the serenades represent an original way of cherishing love.
Carnivals The Carnival is one of the events that are most frequently associated with Korça. Celebration of the Carnival in the city coincides with the opening of the tourist festival season in June. The Carnival is a festive occasion to which many locals and visitors look forward.
Cooking and Drinks Korça is famous for its traditional delicious meals. It is known for two-layered pie, the lakror, cooked on the baking dome, the Lake Prespa carp-based dishes, the famous bleak-based dishes, and the wild animal and bird-based dishes. The Korça characteristic dishes include the petanik filled with white beans, the lakror, risen përvëlak , the lakror prepared by sprinkling milk over the layers, and the rolled meat patties. Worth-mentioning is also the mulberry rakia produced at Boboshtica, or the Dardha rakia produced in the village with the same name. You can not leave without having first tasted the famous Korça beer, the top beer in Albania.7. Places to visit
National Mediaeval Art Museum The Museum was inaugurated in the year 1980. Its rich archives include historical, cultural and artistic exhibits from the mediaeval period, which concern mainly the Christian Byzantine and, later on, the Byzantine heritage. The museum’s iconographic collection is one of the richest, with 6,500 icons being registered. The museum is located in the center of the city. Open: Monday through to Friday, Price of ticket: 200 lekë
Kamenica Tumulus in the city of Korça is one of the most attractive burial places in the Balkans. The skeleton of an Illyrian woman carrying a child’s skeleton in her womb (3 thousand years B.C.), and the skeleton of a man in advanced age, have been unearthed there, adding to the value of this archaeological site. This archaeological monument provides interesting data, as light is shed on the Illyrian inhabitants’ spiritual and material life, customs and rituals between the 10th and 8th centuries B.C. This place can be found close to the city, just 7 km to the village of Kamenica. Open: Monday through to Friday, Price of ticket: 200 lekë
Archaeological Museum was inaugurated in 1985, and was renovated in 1990. The Museum is housed by two characteristic Korça early 19th-century dwellings. These dwellings, on account of their architectural values, are declared Monuments of Culture. The Museum is home to around 1,200 exhibits, with their majority being from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Open: Monday to Friday, Price of ticket: 100 lekë
Old Bazaar in Korça is an area of ancient historical, cultural and architectural values. Overall, two-storeyed buildings and narrow alleys are what characterize this place. Its construction style is noteworthy. The market, with around 1,000 shops, reached its peak development towards late 19th century and early 20th century. The Old Bazaar formed an ensemble on its own against the urban structure of the city in the background. Open: 7:30–15:00, daily.
(Christ’s Revival) Cathedral Built in 1992, its size ranks it as the most important in Korça and the largest across Albania. It epitomizes the return of religious practices in a country where all religions were banned between 1967 and 1991.
Korça - Boboshtica - Dardha In order to reach Boboshtica, drive along the Korça-Erseka main road south-east direction. For four kilometres then turn left. Signs are in place to indicate direction. Having taken the turn, you will drive for another three kilometres. When you see a grove of old mulberry-trees, you will know that you are close to the very attractive village of Boboshtica. Once at the centre of the village of Boboshtica, take the bound road. This road leads to the village of Dardha. In the beginning, you will be driving through a barren landscape, which gives place to a forest in a matter of minutes. It is here that the most beautiful part of the trip starts. Dardha offers an ideal place for skiing.
Korça-Voskopoja Until the late 18th century, Voskopoja used to be a very important urban settlement. In order to get there, you will first have to drive along the city’s ring westwards, and then, take a turn past the thermal-power station in the west. A distance of around 20 kilometres lies between Voskopoja and Korça. You will be driving along a pleasant road winding next to a stream. The village forest is one of the most frequently visited areas across Korça. Skiing events are hosted here in wintertime.
Korça-Prespa e Madhe Prespa is a relatively big lake. To reach there, you need to leave Korça driving north. Then, take a right onto the highway leading to Bilisht, and then, to Kapshtica, on the border with Greece. However, you will not need to drive for long. Around 15 kilometres from Korça, near the village of Plasa, take a left, and drive along a narrow, asphalted road. After three kilometres, you will drive through the Zvezda Pass, a passageway between the Dry Mountain in the west, and the Ivan Mountain in the east. You are gradually entering the Prespa natural park territory. Prespa e Madhe is shared by three countries of which one sixth belongs to Albania. It has a very interesting landscape and water. The 11th-century eremites’ churches are the greatest attraction that Prespa e Madhe offers. The Albanian section of the Lake is home to a number of them. All of them are built on the hillside. Old frescoes have survived in a number of them.