Home Nature preserves Isolated Albanian village happily juggles different identities

Isolated Albanian village happily juggles different identities


At the village mosque, an old grandfather clock has kept time for 210 years, becoming one of the symbols of the village, with a 150-year-old lime tree and a tradition of rich wedding ceremonies.

“A businessman brought the clock here. His name was Ali Bin Tahiri. He owned a candy store and bought the mosque clock, ”Novruz Mehmeti told BIRN.

In 1967, when Albania was declared the world’s first and only atheist nation and all places of worship were closed, the mosque was turned into a store. However, the villagers’ passion for the clock spared him. They put it in the local cooperative cafe.

Mehmeti recounts how authorities in the nearby town of Kukes sent a message to get the clock. Unable to categorically refuse the request, the villagers demanded at the time a high price – some 10,000 leks – around 2,000 dollars.

They have the same passion for the protection of the lime tree, which legend has it that it preserves the memory of the soldiers killed during the battle of Plevna.

They unsuccessfully asked the authorities to declare the lime tree a “monument of nature”, but this setback did not deter Mehmeti.

“We decided to fence it off and place a plaque indicating that the lime tree is a monument of nature,” he said.

Wedding ceremonies in the greater Gora region are such that entire villages participate, both as participants and spectators.

A centuries-old tradition states that the ceremony should begin on the hill above the village to the sound of traditional musical instruments.

Villagers say the start of the hillside tradition dates back to a young man who got engaged but died before his wedding day from tuberculosis and asked to be buried on the hill.

A richly embroidered flag or sheet was prepared by the family of the youngster who died before getting married.

“There are about twenty rules for how the wedding flag should be prepared,” Mehmeti said. The staff on which the wedding flag is supported must be kept intact after the wedding. “You must not break it,” he observes.

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