What You Need To Know
Elbasan is a city and a municipality in Elbasan County, central Albania. The third largest city in Albania, it is located on the Shkumbin River in the District of Elbasan and the County of Elbasan.
The present municipality was formed at the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities Bradashesh, Elbasan, Funarë, Gjergjan, Gjinar, Gracen, Labinot-Fushë, Labinot-Mal, Papër, Shirgjan, Shushicë, Tregan and Zavalinë, that became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the city Elbasan.
It was called Neokastron (Νεόκαστρον “New Castle”) in Greek, Novigrad (“New City”) in Slavic and Terra Nuova (“New Land”) in Italian. The modern name derives from the Turkish il-basan (“the fortress”).
Area: 1 290 km²
The Albanian Lek is the currency of Albania. The currency code for Leke is ALL, and the currency symbol is Lek.
The climate here is mild, and generally warm and temperate. The winter months are much rainier than the summer months in Elbasan. The climate here is classified as Csb by the Köppen-Geiger system. The average temperature in Elbasan is 12.9 °C. The average annual rainfall is 697 mm.
Precipitation is the lowest in July, with an average of 24 mm. Most of the precipitation here falls in December, averaging 109 mm.
At an average temperature of 21.9 °C, July is the hottest month of the year. January is the coldest month, with temperatures averaging 4.2 °C.
Industrial development began during the Zog regime with the production of tobacco and alcoholic beverages, and culminated during the communist regime. The city gained prominence after the Chinese built a steel mill in 1974. There were also other industries operating in the city during the communist regime.
The city was a hub for heavy industry during the communist regime, mostly metallurgic and metal processing factories. All these industries caused big pollution and Elbasan is considered today to be one of the most polluted cities of Albania.
Dialects. There are two main dialects of Albanian: Tosk (Toskësisht) and Gheg/Geg (Gegnisht). The dividing line between them is the Shkumbin river. Tosk is the official language of Albania, and one of the official languages of Kosovo and Macedonia, and is spoken in southern Albania, Turkey, Greece and Italy.
Culture and religion
Elbasan has been occupied by several different groups, including the Serbs, Bulgarians, Austrians and Italians. Elbasan remained a center of Islam in Albania even after the Ottoman occupation. After the 1908 Congress of Monastir (in modern Bitola, Republic of Macedonia) decided to use the Latin alphabet for the written Albanian language, Muslim clerics influenced by the Young Turks held various demonstrations in favor of the Arabic script in Elbasan.
In the middle of the city is found the Saint Mary Orthodox Church. The church was built in 1830 on the foundations of an older church, which had partially burned in 1819. Paintings and frescoes of Onufri, restored by David Selenicasi and Kostadin Shelcani can still be seen. The church has been an important religious and cultural center for the Albanian language. Teodor Haxhifilipi, Kostandin Kristoforidhi, and Aleksandër Xhuvani have served in the church. They are the authors of translations into Albanian of many psalms. The church building served as the first Albanian school of Elbasan in modern times, which opened in 1908.
Other orthodox churches in the Elbasan District include the Mameli church (built in the 17th century), the Saint Nicholas church (Albanian: Shen Kolli) in Shelcan (built in 1554), the Saint Nicholas church in Valesh (built in 1604), the Saints Cosmas and Damian church in Sterstan (built in the 18th century), the Saint Michael (Albanian: Shen Mehilli) church in Shalës (built in the 17th century), the Saint Mary church in Dragot (built in the 18th century), the Saint Nicholas church of Elbasan (17th century), and the Elbasan Saint Athanasius church of Elbasan (built in 1554).
About 7 km away from Elbasan there is an old monastery and orthodox church where notably Saint Jovan Vladimir was buried until 1995 when his remains were transferred to the Orthodox Cathedral in Tirana, being brought back to the monastery only for his feast days.
Elbasan is home to the National Autocephalous Albanian Church (Albanian: Kisha Autoqefale Kombetare), a relatively new Orthodox Autocephalous church that split from the Albanian Orthodox Church in 1995. Father Nikolle Marku is the leader of the new denomination.
About 45 minute ride from Tirana with the bus through the semi-finished new motorway that is still being built as in 2018. The new motorway was opened in 2012 and now you can go from Tirana to Elbasan much faster. Beside the new motorway you can see the beautiful landscapes.
Walking or taxi. Taxis are located close to the furgons (vans) at the center of the city.