Mirdita: Unveiling Albania's Hidden Gem | WeBalkans | EU Projects in the Western Balkans

Mirdita: Unveiling Albania's Hidden Gem


In Northern Albania lies Mirdita, a region of natural and historic beauty that remains largely unexplored. This article explores how Mirdita is embracing its potential for tourism through a theatrical presentation at the Tourism and Travel Show in Tirana, supported by the EU4Culture grants programme via the Albanian Centre for Education, Tourism, and Entrepreneurship (CEAPAL).

Known for its picturesque views and delicious traditional dishes, Mirdita is being reimagined not just as a geographic area, but as a cultural concept. The CEAPAL initiative “Mirdita towards sustainable tourism development” involved the entire community — local leaders, historians, artisans, and citizens — to create new cultural heritage routes.

“This project has a special kind of magic. We didn’t just plan routes; we brought the community closer together. Every meeting and discussion highlighted our shared heritage. Mirdita is not just a place; it’s a living, breathing tapestry of stories waiting to be shared with the world,” said Amalinda Bediava, CEAPAL’s programme manager.

Albert Mëlyshi, the mayor, emphasised the project’s broader impact. “This isn’t merely about tourism. It’s about revitalisation and igniting hope in our youth that there’s a flourishing future here. Our partnership with the EU-funded EU4Culture project has been the catalyst for this new chapter in Mirdita’s story,” he noted.

The Tourism and Travel Show highlighted Mirdita’s rich culture. Local dancers in traditional attire performed vibrantly, capturing the essence of Mirdita. Through various workshops, business training, and cultural promotion activities, the EU4Culture-supported projects are helping to reshape the town’s narrative, with local artisans, tour guides, and cultural heritage experts playing pivotal roles.

The Crafts Fair, held in November 2023, symbolised an aspirational vision coming to life. The EU-funded “EU4Culture” project in Albania also supported the development of the “Cultural Routes of Mirdita”.

The Cultural Route of Mirdita, centred on the Monastery Church of Rubik, offers a journey through tradition. Located atop the Fan River Valley, it’s only an hour and fifteen-minute drive from Tirana. It provides an immersive experience into the past, complete with artistic frescoes and layers of religious history.

The route continues to the Church of Orosh, a sanctuary surrounded by green hills showcasing rich architecture and landscapes. The EU4Culture project ensures this site is attractive and engaging, with restored and promoted churches welcoming both religious visitors and history enthusiasts.

The path then leads to Rrëshen, the cultural hotspot of Mirdita, where tourists can visit the House of Culture and enjoy a traditional lunch at the Arber Winery, a local family establishment. The tour ends at the Church of Ndërfanës, perched on the edge of Gziq village, overlooking the region. This site marks a symbol of success and the conclusion of the journey through Mirdita. Such rich experiences make culture-driven tourism appealing to visitors and beneficial to the local economy, ensuring sustainability and respect for centuries-old pastoral traditions.

As Mirdita embarks on its path to becoming a cherished destination, the support from EU4Culture and the dedication of its community herald a new era of opportunity, not just for tourism, but for the cultural and economic revival of the region. Through the eyes of its people, Mirdita is not only unveiling its landscapes and traditions to the world but also extending a warm welcome to all who wish to discover its beauty.

About the project:

In November 2019, Albania experienced its most devastating earthquake in 50 years, with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale, causing extensive damage across 11 municipalities. The EU4Culture project, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in close partnership with the Ministry of Culture of Albania, focuses on the renovation and revitalisation of major cultural heritage sites damaged by the earthquake. It represents one of the largest cultural heritage programmes funded by the European Union, with a total budget of €40 million. Guided by the “Building Back Better” principle, EU4Culture aims to enhance Albania’s tourism potential, directly contributing to local and regional socio-economic recovery. The project also supports local entrepreneurship, artisanship, and cultural initiatives through grants, providing a direct boost to the local economy.

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