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Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a native feudal lord from Mullet, established the city in 1614. His first constructions were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam (Turkish bath). On February 8, 1920 Tirana was made the temporary capital by the Congress of Lushnje, and it was proclaimed the permanent capital on December 31, 1925.
Today the situation has dramatically improved regarding power outages. Tirana is undergoing a major renovation from its communist days. Many of the ugly dull buildings have been repainted, but a lot of work still needs to be done. English is rapidly gaining steam as the second language of the city with the youth but many older residents also speak Italian.
Albanians are very hospitable towards foreigners, despite media frequently portraying them as thieves and mobsters. Tirana itself is very approachable if you're the adventurous type - crime is rare, if ever directed towards foreigners and the costs are very low by regional standards. The worst experience you may have is with erratic driving style of Albanians.
The main business and entertainment area (not by coincidence) has become "The Block" (Blloku) which is the area where in the past, the communist leaders used to live under strict protection. Locals prefer to hang out at the many cafes and main parks. Tirana is a youthful and lively town resonating constant energy. A popular retreat is by cable car to Mount Dajti where one can get a panoramic view of the city from above.
A new tourist information office has recently opened on Rruga Ded Gjo Luli, just north of Skanderbeg Square (behind the National Historic Museum). The English-speaking staff are very helpful and can provide maps and directions to hostels/hotels etc. Also free copies of "Tirana in your pocket" guide, which includes vital information about bus and furgon schedules.
There is no rail connection to Tirana as of September 2013, due to planned relocation of the city's only railroad station and redevelopment of the existing site. This makes Kashar, about 10 kilometers from central Tirana, the closest railroad station to the capital. It was completely renovated together with some rolling stock and opened in May 2015. From there, you can reach Durrës, Shkodra, Elbasan, Vlorë (twice daily in the summer), and Librazhd (line to Pogradec discontinued since 2012 due to mud slides along Ohrid Lake track). Even though train services are very poor, when compared to West Balkan standards, they may be more frequent, cheaper, and more scenic than taking the bus. Taking the train to Elbasan is not recommended: the four hour trip makes a large detour via Durrës (not very scenic) while Elbasan is only 35 km away from Tirana.
What to do in Tirana
Bunkart, Prane Rruges Rexhepi, Rruga Teki Selenica. This is a bunker realization of an art gallery, with many corridors full of art works to admire. The most famous works of Albanian art are available here to witness and observe.
CinePlexx, (You can get the specific TEG bus near Kulla E Sahatit.). 3D cinema with many of the latest movies at the biggest Tirana commercial centre.
Imperial, (You can get a bus to Qendra Kristal or Sheraton near the center.). 3D cinemas with many of the latest movies at one of the greatest commercial centres and hotels in Tirana .