Albania anyone who hears the words Kukes, Tropoje and provinces around them thinks that they have will travel to a distant world of legends, a place where past and present strongly mix between mountains, pride peaks and deep valleys. If you want to see a different Albania the one far from the chaos of big cities, the one that has strongly maintained the old customs and traditions, then here is your opportunity. At the end of this trip will certainly remain satisfied. You will see one of the most attractive areas not only of Albania, but the entire Balkan.2. Geographic position
Kukes lies in the plateau above the joining point of river White Drin and with the Black Drin aside the artificial lake of Fierza, at the foot of Mount Gjallicës 350-400 m above sea level. As a large unit of administrative division of Albania, Kukes district (including the traditional provinces of Tropoja and Kukes), bounded on the east by the Republic of Kosovo, the west district of Shkodra, north Montenegro, south Diber county and partly that of Lezha.3. How to arrive
Through air: Through international airport “Mother Teresa”, 130 km.
Through sea: From the sea you can arrive from the main harbor, Durres, 149 km.
Through the ground: Through the Tirana-Durres-Kukes, 193 km. This is the most used way.
There are three land border points between Kosovo and Kukes district: Morine the district of Kukes, Prushti passage in the Has district, and Morine passage in the municipality of Bytyci.
Another way to get to the region of Kukes is a waterfront road, by ferry through the lakes Fierza and Koman.
Traces of early settlements on the Illyrian tribe Dardaniatae are of first centuries BC. Region name is associated with the Kukajve feudal family, the army commanders of national hero Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg. For the first time were mentioned in the Ottoman register of 1571. According to a 1610 document of the village of Kukes was built between two Drin Rivers and had 50 homes. The construction of new Kukes began in 1962 while the old Kukes was covered by the waters of Lake Fierza in 1978. The city in new urban plan was conceived and built as an urban center important for the entire country with wide roads, with high-rise residential buildings, with state, educational and socio-cultural institutions, with parks, hotels and various municipal and trading services. Region name became known worldwide when in 1999 hosted over 400 000 Albanian civilians from Kosovo, forcibly expelled by Milosevic's paramilitaries. Kukes is decorated with the bust of Skanderbeg, the work of Odise Paskalit, placed in 1939, the sculpture of Shote Galica and memorial dedicated to Albanian League of Prizren. Through Kukes passes the most important automobile road called the nation's highway, linking Albania to Kosovo. In 2005 there was built the second civilian airport after Rinas, with great importance for the Albanians in Republic of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.5. Population, Religion, Economy
General population in the Kukes Region is 115 097 inhabitants (2008) of which: in the district of Kukes 62 983, in the Has district 21 317 inhabitants and in the Tropoja 30 797 inhabitants (2008). Apart from the Albanians in this region there are the villages or communes belonging to an ethnic group called Gorani, a population which lives mainly in the Has region. It is a Muslim population which at home and in everyday life use a very old dialect of the Slavic.
The Kukes Region is a model of harmony of different religious faiths for centuries. Majority of its population is Muslim and few are Catholic. These regions are known for a long coexistence between different religious faiths. In many villages and towns has a cult building, mosque, masjid or church.
Important branch of industry has been and is power energt represented by Fierza hydro-power plant, one of the most important in all the Albanian energy system. In recent years are activated the processing of agricultural products (fruit and vegetables) and livestock.
Songs: In Luma folk songs are mainly lyrical, present are also present ballads and historical epic. Homofonia songs are typical to men and for women's polyphony. Men songs are accompanied with çifteli, those of women with tambourine.
In Malzi folk music are lyrical songs sung by women in the group associated with tambourine.
In the Albanian Alps are present epos songs of heroes which are accompanied by lute, but also songs associated with çifteli are used.
Dances: In Luma, characteristic is semi-circle shaped dance or "horra." For men, typical dances are epic, lyric for those women and ritual. Dances associated with the toy and pipe, those of women with çifteli and tambourine.
In Malëzi typically is the double that dance associated with tambourine, flute and çifteli.
Traditional Kitchen: Residents of this region have rich cooking experience. Special pride in the products that offered to guests such as lake fish luçiper, alpine river trout, lamb ferrlik, white goat cheese, chestnut honey, dried roasted meat. Among the traditional dishes of the region are famous “fli”, pie prepared with flour, eggs, butter and baked in copper plate. Well known are the Has pie and another one prepared with corn flour. An original cooking is called the boiled mazë.7. Place to visit
What you can visit
Ethnographic collection with unique values of the Kukes region is kept at the Palace of Culture of the city. It consists of a number of ethnographic objects waiting to be recorded, photographed and protected and restored in order to be inherited not only by future generations but also become the object of attracting tourists due to the high value of this treasure.
Bust of Scanderbeg: Work of one of the most prominent sculptors of our country, Odise Paskali, placed in Kukes in 1939. It is poured in bronze and height 65 cm. Although of small dimensions, it is one of those major works that have very large values as the real art masterpieces has.
Brises Church: In the cemetery of the village attracts the attention of the visitor a very old church for the fact that such a structure is not characteristic only for Albania but even for the Northeast and other regions of Albania. For the construction of roof style that is reminiscent of that of Shënkollit in Toplanë as it is a pre-ottoman construction. The building is rectangular plan, without the apse. It is built with stone tiles, building corners and gates are built with worked stones. Gate vault had its arched shape. The vault as locals call it, in external sites has arc markings and a cross. In the forehead of the church, on the right had some decorations deep in the wall, but on this side there were two windows. In this area, from inside there is a worked part as the one on the side of the entrance. The church served as a cemetery chapel. Tradition says that during the attacks of invading armies’ unarmed population of this country found there a safe protection.
Valbona National Park: Valbona Valley was declared National Park in January 1996. This park has an area of 8000 hectares. It is considered as the miracle of the Alps. It is located 25-30 miles northwest of the city Bajram Curri, the center of Tropoja region. It is bordered by Thethi National Park and stricted natural protected area of “Gashi River". Its territory is crossed by road Bajram Curri, Çerem-Dragoti-Valbona. There are high and steep peaks that change colors every season and present exceptional dynamic images in terms of a valley full of surprises, with many labyrinths. It has high levels of scientific, tourist, social recreation, which are rich in biodiversity with national and international importance. A curiosity here is the canyon of Shoshani several meters high. Valbona river narrows here and seem to cut the rock as by a knife. Valbona stems from the slopes of Mount Jazercës, the highest of the Albanian Alps (2693.5 meters). Valbona is the largest river that flows into the cascade Alps. River flows from the mountains of Çeremit and Raganit come full of sound and effervescence. It finds peace in the village of Valbona to move towards Dragobia swinging. Up to 1 meter depth of water is clean, clear and very transparent. In the diverse nature of this field you can practice all kinds of sports, make tourism and have fun. Here you will find eternal snow even in summer, will admire the fascinating waterfalls.
Gashi River: Includes an area of 3076 hectares and is of strictly protected natural areas across our country. There are high levels of biodiversity and represent important ecosystems and unique for the whole country. This area provides important habitat for all kinds of big mammals: bear, wolf, lynx, deer, wild goats and wild boars. Here are the major mass beech, fir, pine and various species, alpine pastures, mountain torrents and glacial lakes. All these landscapes with high scientific, educational and aesthetic values are further ornamented by the presence here of the wild turkey and eagle and Lutra lutra, which navigates the clear and clean waters of river Gashi.