Albania’s Kruja Castle was the center of its struggle against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, led by national hero George Skanderberg. Today, the castle is home to the National Skanderberg Museum, remains of the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Mosque, an ethnographic museum, a Turkish bath and a reconstructed bazaar. It also offers scenic views of the surrounding area.
The Skanderberg Museum contains artifacts dating back to the 15th century, with exhibits arranged to honor Skanderberg and his military feats. Items on display include paintings, armor, maps and stone and wood engravings. The highlight of the collection is a replica of Skanderberg’s famous helmet topped with a goat head. The ethnographic museum is considered one of the best organized museums in Albania. Set in a traditional Ottoman era house, it contains objects up to 500 years old. Visitors can walk through a handful of the 15 rooms, including the living room, children’s room and kitchen. Exhibits include olive oil processing tools, pottery and both Catholic and Muslim clothing.
The town of Kruja is just north of Albania’s capital, Tirana. Buses run frequently between the two cities, with the trip taking about one hour. The bus leaves Tirana from a market behind the train station and can be a bit difficult to find. Kruja itself is quite small and easy to navigate on foot. For a more in-depth look at Kruja, consider joining a full or half day tour from Tirana.