Korça is one of the largest and most important cultural and economic centers of Albania, located in the southeastern part of the country.
The city is known for its typical quarters, composed of low houses and villas, which are paved with cobblestone. The Bazaar of Korca is an ensemble of trade, craft, and residential buildings with urban-architectural and artistic values that dates back to the 19th century. The collection of buildings is a testimony to the existence of craftsmen and tradesmen who at that time had a deep influence on the economic and social life of the country. The bazaar’s one of the main tourist attractions in Korça.
The city of Korça has a range of museums such as the Education Museum (located in the building where the first Albanian school opened in 1887), Majestic Cinema ( a 90 year old cinema), the renewed National Museum of Medieval Art (to visit absolutely), the Prehistoric Museum, the House-Museum of the famous landscape painter, Vangjush Mio, the Museum of the Oriental Art “Bratko”, etc. In the vicinity of the city is the cemetery of French soldiers fallen during the First World War.
The renewed Theatre Cajupi is also a place to see theatre performances and other cultural events.
Musically, the city is known for the local songs, called serenata. In the city, you will find many taverns with tasteful traditional cooking such as various types of the pie which perfectly combines with good music and traditional drinks.
Korça is a very good base for exploring many tourist points located in the nearby mountains such as Voskopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi, and Boboshtica. These villages are well known for offering the possibility to practice many outdoor sports and activities. The area is also famous for the Byzantine churches of Vithkuqi and Voskpoja, whose walls were painted by famous medieval Albanian painters. Close to Korça you can visit Prespa Lake (which is the country’s largest National Park), Drenova National Park, the Illyrian tummulus of Kamenica, etc. The most beautiful places in Korca are in walking distance.
You can drive to Korca through three different cities. Korca is located in the southeastern part of the country, and it’s:
167 km from Tirana
75 km from Ohrid
250 km from Skopje
You can go to Korca by means of public transport such as buses, minibusses, etc. you can find them at every time of the day. Korca has regular lines with the cities of Tirana, Elbasan, Durres, Pogradec.
From Tirana to Korca the ticket of the bus costs 500 Albanian Leke ~3.8 Euro.
The place in Tirana where the buses and minibusses set out is found here: https://goo.gl/maps/xsWNrgRBCS72
The bus will stop just some meters away from City Center.
If you come from the north of the country and from the capital Tirana, you should pass from Elbasani, then continue the national road Librazhd-Pogradec-Korce. The distances that you should know: Shkoder-Korce 292 km, Tirane-Korce 167 km, Elbasan-Korce 127 km, Librazhd-Korce 103 km, Pogradec-Korce 41 km.
If you come from Greece through overland in the border zone of Kapshtica, from Macedonia, the customs of Tushemisht, Qafe-Thane and the customs of Gorica. The distance Kapshtice-Korce 37 km, Tushemisht-Korce 49 km, Qafe-Thane-Korce 57 km, Oher-Korce 70 km, Thessaloniki-Korce 270 km, Skopje-Korce 280 km.
If you come from the south of the country from Saranda you should pass through the road axle Sarande-Gjirokaster-Tepelene-Ballsh-Fier-Lushnje-Elbasan-Librazhd-Pogradec-Korce. The distances that you should know: Sarande-Korce 247 km, Gjirokaster-Korce 195 km, Fier-Korce 217 km.
You can come through the sea from the port of Durres and then through overland in the road axle Durres-Kavaje-Rrogozhine-Elbasan-Librazhd-Pogradec-Korce. The distance: Durres-Korce 209 km.
You can come through sea roads from the port of Vlora and then with overland in the axle Vlore-Fier-Lushnje-Elbasan-Librazhd-Pogradec-Korce. The distance: Vlore-Korce 250 km.
You can come through the air from Tirana International Airport (and then through overland in the road axle Tirane-Elbasan-Librazhd-Pogradec-Korce. Or bust station that you can find here:
Korça is characterized by a climate that is part Mediterranean mountain, and part continental, with cold winters and hot and dry summers. The average yearly temperature is 10.6ºC. The coldest month is January, and the hottest months are July&August. The wettest month is November, with average rainfall totals of 104 millimeters, while the average yearly total for rain is 720 millimeters. The region is characterized by different local winds such as the Voskopoja wind, Southwest wind, and winds from Morava, Devollka, and other places.
The population of the City of Korça is 130,531. Following the 1990s, the city experienced significant emigration of the population both to other places in the country and abroad. In addition to ethnic Albanians, the region around Korça includes Aromanians, Slavs, and Roma.
Korça is predominately comprised of Orthodox Christian and Sunni Muslim adherents. In addition, there are other faiths in the region, including Bektashi Muslims and Evangelical Christians. Korça is considered by many to be a symbol of interfaith harmony and understanding.
Korça is an important transportation hub linking Central Albania with roads to the regions of Devoll, Kolonje, Permet, and Pogradec. In addition, Korça is connected by the national road with Greece including the nearby cities of Thessaloniki, Larisa and others. The main automobile routes include Korça-Elbasan-Tirana, Korça-Erseka, and Korça-Bilisht-Kapshtica.
TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS
The ethnographic provinces of the region are Gora, Opari, Devolli, and Prespa. Local craft traditions include working with wool (felt, cloaks, shirts, and carpets), thick leather goods with cotton, or woodworking.Voskopoja was traditionally known for its export of felt, Dardha for woodworking, Bradovica for its clay pottery, Progri for house building, and Opari for its woodworking and cobblestones.
Traditional dwellings in Korça are made in the Turkish style, with a semi-open upstairs veranda- a style which was popular in the villages as well. Iron railings and stone sculptures are a typical feature of Korça’s architecture. Additionally, the City of Korça is known for its beautiful courtyard gardens with flowers (roses, tulips, hydrangeas and other flowers), as well its city squares with historical public wells. Another characteristic of the city of Korça is the cobblestone streets that wind through traditional buildings in the older neighborhoods.
Until the end of the 19th century, the most common men’s clothing was a traditional kilt. For women, the most common clothing was a long shirt with an apron.Also characteristic for Korça women are belts adorned with intricate metal decorations. Traditional men and women’s shoes with plumes were renowned for their beauty and comfort, leading to the spread of this style of shoe throughout Albania and in other countries including Greece.
The serenades of Korça are songs characteristic to the region, usually sung with guitar and mandolin accompaniment. This particular style of song, though unique to Korça, is famous throughout all of Albania. The songs usually reflect on the sweetness of sadness of true love and represent an original and local way of musical expression. Famously, these songs would be sung by a love-struck man, standing under the balcony of the mischievous girl he desired, or beside the iron railing of a courtyard garden, or around the evening table filled with traditional food and drink. Serenades reached their peak popularity in the 1930s, but continue to be sung today with live music in bars and restaurants, and in the homes of Korça families.
CUISINE AND DRINKS
Korça is known for its delicious traditional cooking., including byrek or lakror (savory pie) with two layers cooked in a wood-fired oven, special preparations of the wild carp native to Lake Prespa, the famous dried and salted cironka (bleakfish), as well as the cooking of wild game and fowl. Traditional Korça dishes include savory pies baked over wood fires (petanik, lakror and përvëlak) and small spiced sausages. The village of Vithkuq is famous for its walnuts and tea, roasted meat and dairy, while the village of Dardha is most known for its take on the local savory lakror pie with two layers, baked in a wood fire oven. Particularly unique local flavors include the ligavece from Dardha, snails, local mushrooms and lakror pie with cornmeal. Of course, no visit to Korça would be complete without trying the famous Korça Beer, still brewed locally at the first brewery to ever open in Albania.
Albanian Leke is the official currency in Albania. You can’t pay with Euro in Albania.
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