Tepelena is a city in the south of Albania, Gjirokaster district. The city lies at the foot of a hill and is surrounded by three rivers, which create a magnificent landscape. Tepelena is named after a well-known man in the history of Albania, Ali Pashe Tepelena. A small town, but with an impressive history. Here’s top 10 things to do in Tepelene once you get there:
CASTLE REMAINS OF TEPELENE
The castle of Ali Pasha Tepelena was listed as a cultural monument of the first category in 1963 and is located in the north of the city of Tepelena, Municipality of Tepelena. The geographical position was used to protect the castle. According to historical sources, the construction of the castle was supervised by Ali Pasha himself. The existing castle was rebuilt in 1819 with an area of 5.5 ha, with three entrances and three towers. Until 1820 it was used as the second residence of Ali Pasha. The walls of the castle were built based on the natural shape of the terrain and do not have a regular geometric shape. Apart from the 3 polygonal towers that are erected at the key points of the walls for better control, the others are simply used as exit angles. The castle has three gates, one of which has an inscription: Vizier’s Gate.
2. BUST OF ALI PASHE TEPELENA
You can’t go to Tepelene without having a proper image of the man who gave the name to this city. You should visit the bust of Ali Pashe Tepelena. The magnificent monument is made of bronze, weighing 4 tons, 3.1 meters wide, 2 meters high. It is located in the town of Tepelena, in the square at its entrance, when you come from Ura e Lekli and the village of Luzat.
3. DRAGOTI BRIDGE
Cultural monument of Category II, in the village of Dragot, Tepelen. The Metal Bridge is located over the Vjosë river at the bend of Dragot village. This bridge was designed and built by Italian engineering students in 1936. On both sides of the river, the bridge rests on a concrete platform. It is a suspension bridge with arched metal trusses. It has dimensions: 114m long and 8m wide. The road is 5m wide. While the parapets are 1.50 m wide and are of metal construction.
Dragot Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges in Albania. It was built in 1936, on the river Vjosa, the wildest river in Europe. It is a rare engineering technology that has stood the test of time for over 80 years.
4. NIVICA CANYONS
The canyons of Nivica are a natural wonder, discovered and explored only in recent years by many visitors. They are located near the village of Nivicë. The canyons have a length of up to several (km), an average width of about 15 m, and a depth of up to several dozen (m). They were formed by the erosion of the Nivice Stream, part of the Benca Stream, in carbonate rocks. The stream of Nivica, below the village of the same name, has formed a gorge with a very narrow bed, with a length of about 3 km to the Merje basin, where it joins the Gurra e Progonati. Its bottom is very regular, with breaks or thresholds and spurs, accompanied by negative shapes, which are pits and furrows deepened in the rocky bottom of the canyon, with an oval appearance in the form of cauldrons, with clean and drained water. The water breaks off and falls from great heights (30-40 m) and forms waterfalls, like that of Guvë and two others below it. The canyon, although getting deeper, is presented with lots of natural contrasts, cliffs, stepped bed and numerous caves in the rock face. They can be visited by taking the road Tepelene-Progonat-Nivice.
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5. LERA TOWERS IN LEKDUSH
These two rock towers were carved by erosion. There are two towers with round tops, which can be seen as you climb Qafë Erë, but you can also see them from a distance from the villages of Rexhin and Nivicë. They are also called Kulla Kristof and Kulla Geri, taking the names of the first foreign visitors to this area. The first tower is 40 m high and the other 15 m high. They are located in a place, 700 m above sea level. They are rare formations, remnants of the river terrace of Gurra, which proves that their construction is also composed of limestone and flint pebbles, cemented with carbonaceous sand material.
6. COLD WATER SPRINGS
It is located to the right of the Tepelene-Gjirokaster national highway, just after the branching of the highway to Permet. The source is in the upper part of the left slope of the Drinos valley, in the contact of limestone rocks with those of limestone. The precipitation-atmospheric waters that fall in the eastern part of the Kurvelesi mountain range (Buza e Bredhi), through the karst caves, penetrate deep into the limestone rocks and feed this source. The slope where you come! the source is covered with natural vegetation of oak and bushes. In the vicinity of the valley, the turnip trees are quite large. The sound of the water, the greenery, the chirping of the birds, etc., have since time immemorial turned this place into a resting place for travelers. It is easily visited as it is near the Tepelene-Gjirokaster highway. It has scientific (hydrological, geomorphological), aesthetic and touristic values.
7. STAY AT A FANCY HOTEL WITH AN INCREDIBLE VIEW
It will be a great experience if you choose to stay at a guesthouse around the area, but if you are looking for a next level accommodation, try the new hotel “Uji i ftohte Tepelene”. You gonna find comfort and rest, but most of all you gonna enjoy an incredible view from your balcony. There is a fine restaurant and bar at this hotel too, which I’m sure you gonna love.
8. PROGONATI WATERFALL
A natural monument of the third category in the area of Kurveles. In fact, it is a series of canyons of Gurra, Lekdushi, Progonati. The most beautiful waterfall is that of Peshtura, which today has begun to be explored by many nature admirers. It is also called the water’s edge, because of the large natural spring of Crystal water. In this place, the canyon rises to a height of 1000 meters above sea level. This waterfall is 400 meters high and the falling water creates rainbow colors. You can visit these canyons on the way from Tepelena to Progonat. The road is not very good, but still passable. For those who prefer walking, this trip is considered not difficult, but it is not recommended on rainy days. The views of the waterfall will enchant you.
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9. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LOCAL MUSIC
This part of Albania is famous for the folk music, the unique style of singing and the instruments used. Once you start exploring the history and the culture of Tepelene, don’t neglect learning more about the music, the texts of the songs and its legends, in order to get in the very heart of its culture.
10. AGROTOURISM AT LORD BYRON
Where to try the local cuisine? Lord Byron Guesthouse is one of the best places to enjoy the dishes of the area, to taste the freshest veggies grown around the guesthouse, to relax in the countryside and get new energies. You can spend a whole weekend here as there is alwys something new to do.