|Founded||4th century BC|
|o Mayor||Voltana Ademi (Democratic Party)|
|o Municipality||872.71 km2 (336.96 sq mi)|
|Elevation||13 m (43 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Shkodër or Shkodra ( SHKO-der,Albanian pronunciation: ['?k?d] or ['?k?d?a]), historically known as Scodra or Scutari, is the fifth most populous city of the Republic of Albania and the capital of the eponymous municipality and county. It is one of the most ancient cities in the Balkans and exerts strong cultural, economic and religious influences in Northern Albania. Its location has been of strategic importance throughout its history. It has often helped the city to its wealth or made it the subject of conflicts between foreign powers.
Geographically, Shkodër sprawls across the Plain of Mbishkodra between the freshwater marshlands of Lake Shkodër and the foothills of the Albanian Alps. As most of the Dinaric Alps, the mountains are dominated by limestone and dolomite rocks. The lake, named after the city of Shkodër, is the largest lake in Southern Europe. The city is surrounded on three sides by the rivers Kir in the east, Drin in the south and Buna in the west.
Historically, the region that corresponds to the territory of Shkodër was founded in the 4th century BC by the Ancient Illyrian tribes of the Ardiaei and Labeates. It is evidenced by the artefacts and inscriptions discovered in the Rozafa Castle. During that period, the city was known under the name Scodra. In the last period of the Illyrian kingdom, under the Labeatan dynasty, it served as the royal capital city of the realm. It has historically developed on a 130 metres (430 ft) hill, strategically located in the outflow of Lake of Shkodër into the Buna. The Romans annexed the city after the third Illyrian War in 168 BC, when Gentius was defeated by the Roman force of Anicius Gallus. In the 3rd century AD, Shkodër became the capital of Praevalitana, due to the administrative reform of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. With the spread of Christianity in the 4th century AD, the Archdiocese of Scodra was founded and was assumed in 535 by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
During many different epochs it has retained its status as a major city in the wider region, due to its strategic position close to the Adriatic Sea and the Italian port cities, but also with land-routes to other important cities and towns in neighbouring regions.
The etymology of the term Shkodër is a subject which attracts debate. The name was first attested in antiquity in the Latin form Scodra, the Ancient Greek and the Ancient Greek genitive (of the Skodrians), which was discovered on coins from the 2nd century BC. Although the ultimate origin of the term is uncertain.
The further development of the name has been a subject of discussion among linguists over the linguistic provenance of the Albanian people and the Albanian language. While Albanian linguists Eqrem Çabej and Shaban Demiraj treat the development from Skodra to modern Shkodra as evidence of regular development within the Albanian language, Professor of Albanologie, Joachim Matzinger, argues that it fails to display certain known phonological changes that would have to have happened if the name had been continually in use in proto-Albanian since pre-Roman times, sk- consonant clusters are usually morphed into a h-, and not shk-. hudhër from *skurd?, hardhje from *skard? and herdhe from *skarda.
Matzinger's statement can however be disproved by the series of Albanian sc- borrowings from Latin that morphed into shk-, such as shkorsë from scortea, shkëndijë from scintillia, shkëmb from scamnum and shkop from scopae, thus proving Matzingers claims wrong.[full ]
In modern times, the term was adapted to Italian as Scutari; in this form it was also in wide use in English until the 20th century. In Serbo-Croatian, Shkodër is known as Skadar (Serbo-Croatian Cyrillic: ), and in Turkish as kodra.
The earliest signs of human activity in the lands of Shkodër can be traced back to the Bronze Age. The favorable conditions on the fertile plain, around the lake, have brought people here from early antiquity. Artefacts and inscriptions, discovered in the Rozafa Castle, are assumed to be the earliest examples of symbolic behaviour in humans in the city. Although, it was known under the name Scodra and was inhabited by the Illyrian tribes of the Labeates and Ardiaei, which ruled over a large territory between modern Albania up to Croatia. King Agron, Queen Teuta, and King Gentius, were among the most famous personalities of the Ardiaei.
The city was first mentioned during the antiquity as the site of the Illyrian Labeates in which they minted coins and that of Queen Teuta. In 168 BC, the city was captured by the Romans and became an important trade and military route. The Romans colonized the town. Scodra remained in the province of Illyricum, and later Dalmatia. By it 395 AD, it was part of the Diocese of Dacia, within Praevalitana.
In the early 11th century, Jovan Vladimir ruled Duklja amidst the war between Basil II and Samuel. Vladimir allegedly retreated into Koplik when Samuel invaded Duklja and was subsequently forced to accept Bulgarian vassalage. He was later slain by the Bulgarians. Shingjon (feast of Jovan Vladimir) has since been celebrated by Albanian Orthodox Christians.
In the 1030s, Stefan Vojislav from Travunija expelled the last strategos and successfully defeated the Byzantines by 1042. Stefan Vojislav set up Shkodër, as his capital.Constantine Bodin accepted the crusaders of the Crusade of 1101 in Shkodër. After the dynastic struggles in the 12th century, Shkodër became an integral part of the Serbian Nemanji? Zeta province. In 1214 the city was briefly annexed to Despotate of Epirus under Michael I Komnenos Doukas. In 1330, Stefan De?anski, King of Serbia, appointed his son Stefan Du?an as the governor of Zeta with its seat in Shkodër. In the same year Du?an and his father entered the conflict which resulted with campaign of De?anski who destroyed Du?an's court on Drin River near Shkodër in January 1331. In April 1331, they made a truce, but in August 1331 Du?an went from Shkodër to Nerodimlje and overthrew his father.
During the disintegration of the Serbian Empire, Shkodër was taken by the Bal?i? family of Zeta, who surrendered the city to the Republic of Venice in 1396, in order to form a protection zone from the Ottoman Empire. During the Venetian rule the city adopted the Statutes of Scutari, a civic law written in Venetian. Venetians built the St. Stephen's Church (later converted into the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque by the Ottomans) and the Rozafa Castle. In 1478-79 Mehmed the conqueror laid siege on Shkodër. In 1479 the city fell to the Ottomans and the defenders of the citadel emigrated to Venice, while many Albanians from the region retreated into the mountains. The city then became a seat of a newly established Ottoman sanjak, the Sanjak of Scutari.
With two sieges, Shkodër became secure as an Ottoman territory. It became the centre of the sanjak and by 1485 there were 27 Muslim and 70 Christian hearths, although by the end of the next century there were more than 200 Muslim ones compared to the 27 Christian ones, respectively.
Military manoeuvres in 1478 by the Ottomans meant that the city was again entirely surrounded by Ottoman forces. Mehmed the Conqueror personally laid the siege. About ten heavy cannons were cast on site. Balls as heavy as 380 kg (838 lb) were fired on the citadel (such balls are still on display on the castle museum). Nevertheless, the city resisted. Mehmed left the field and had his commanders continue the siege. By the winter the Ottomans had captured one after the other all adjacent castles: Lezhë, Drisht, and ?abljak Crnojevi?a. This, together with famine and constant bombardment lowered the morale of defenders. On the other hand, the Ottomans were already frustrated by the stubborn resistance. The castle is situated on a naturally protected hill and every attempted assault resulted in considerable casualties for the attackers. A truce became an option for both parties. On January 25 an agreement between the Venetians and the Ottoman Empire ended the siege, permitting the citizens to leave unharmed, and the Ottomans to take over the deserted city.
After Ottoman domination was secure, much of the population fled. Around the 17th century, the city began to prosper as the center of the Sanjak of Scutari (sanjak was an Ottoman administrative unit smaller than a vilayet). It became the economic center of northern Albania, its craftsmen producing fabric, silk, arms, and silver artifacts. Construction included two-story stone houses, the bazaar, and the Central or Middle Bridge (Ura e Mesit) over the Kir river, built during the second half of the 18th century, over 100 metres (330 feet) long, with 13 arcs of stone, the largest one being 22 metres (72 feet) wide and 12 metres (39 feet) tall.
Shkodër was a major city under Ottoman rule in Southeast Europe. It retained its importance up until the end of the empire's rule in the Balkans in the early 20th century. This is due to its geo-strategic position that connects it directly with the Adriatic and with the Italian ports, but also with land-routes to the other important Ottoman centre, namely Prizren. The city was an important meeting place of diverse cultures from other parts of the Empire, as well as influences coming westwards, by Italian merchants. It was a centre of Islam in the region, producing many ulema, poets and administrators, particularly from the Bushati family. In the 18th century Shkodër became the center of the (pashaluk) of Shkodër, under the rule of the Bushati family, which ruled from 1757 to 1831. Shkodër's importance as a trade center in the second half of the 19th century was owed to the fact that it was the center of the vilayet of Shkodër, and an important trading center for the entire Balkan peninsula. It had over 3,500 shops, and clothing, leather, tobacco, and gunpowder were some of the major products of Shkodër. A special administration was established to handle trade, a trade court, and a directorate of postage services with other countries. Other countries had opened consulates in Shkodër ever since 1718. Obot and Ulcinj served as ports for Shkodër, and later on Shëngjin (San Giovanni di Medua). The Jesuit seminary and the Franciscan committee were opened in the 19th century.
Before 1867 Shkodër (kodra) was a sanjak of Rumelia Eyalet in Ottoman Empire. In 1867, Shkodër sanjak merged with Skopje (Üsküp) sanjak and became Shkodër vilayet. Shkodër vilayet was split into Shkodër, Prizren and Dibra sanjaks. In 1877, Prizren passed to Kosovo vilayet and Debar passed to Monastir vilayet, while Durrës township became a sanjak. In 1878 Bar and Podgorica townships belonged to Montenegro. Ottoman-Albanian intellectual Sami Frashëri during the 1880s estimated the population of Shkodër as numbering 37,000 inhabitants that consisted of three quarters being Muslims and the rest Christians made up of mostly Catholics and a few hundred Orthodox. In 1900, Shkodër vilayet was split into Shkodër and Durrës sanjaks.
Shkodër played an important role during the League of Prizren, the Albanian liberation movement. The people of Shkodër participated in battles to protect Albanian land. The branch of the League of Prizren for Shkodër, which had its own armed unit, fought for the protection of Plav, Gusinje, Hoti, and Gruda, and the war for the protection of Ulcinj. The Bushati Library, built during the 1840s, served as a center for the League of Prizren's branch for Shkodër. Many books were collected in libraries of Catholic missionaries working in Shkodër. Literary, cultural, and sports associations were formed, such as Bashkimi ("The Union") and Agimi ("The Dawn"). The first Albanian newspapers and publications printed in Albania came out of the printing press of Shkodër. The Marubi family of photographers began working in Shkodër, which left behind over 150,000 negatives from the period of the Albanian liberation movement, the rise of the Albanian flag in Vlorë, and life in Albanian towns during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
During the Balkan Wars, Shkodër went from one occupation to another, when the Ottomans were defeated by the Kingdom of Montenegro. The Ottoman forces led by Hasan Riza Pasha and Esad Pasha had resisted for seven months the surrounding of the town by Montenegrin forces and their Serbian allies. Esad (Hasan had previously been mysteriously killed by Esad Pasha Toptani in an ambush inside the town) finally surrendered to Montenegro in April 1913, after Montenegro suffered a high death toll with more than 10,000 casualties. Miss Edith Durham also notes the cruelties suffered at the hand of Montenegrins in the wake of October 1913: "Thousands of refugees arriving from Djakovo and neighbourhood. Victims of Montenegro. My position was indescribably painful, for I had no funds left, and women came to me crying: 'If you will not feed my child, throw it in the river. I cannot see it starve.'" Montenegro was compelled to leave the city to the new country of Albania in May 1913, in accordance with the London Conference of Ambassadors.
During World War I, Montenegrin forces again occupied Shkodër on June 27, 1915. In January 1916, Shkodër was taken over by Austria-Hungary and was the center of the zone of their occupation. When the war ended on 11 November 1918, French forces occupied Shkodër as well as other regions with sizable Albanian populations. After World War I, the international military administration of Albania was temporarily located in Shkodër, and in March 1920, Shkodër was put under the administration of the national government of Tirana. In the second half of 1920, Shkodër resisted another threat, the military intervention of the forces of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
Shkodër was the center of democratic movements of the years 1921–1924. The democratic opposition won the majority of votes for the Constitutional Assembly, and on May 31, 1924, the democratic forces took over the town and from Shkodër headed to Tirana. From 1924 to 1939, Shkodër had a slow industrial development, small factories that produced food, textile, and cement were opened. From 43 of such in 1924, the number rose to 70 in 1938. In 1924, Shkodër had 20,000 inhabitants, the number grew to 29,000 in 1938.
Shkodër was the seat of a Catholic archbishopric and had a number of religious schools. The first laic school was opened here in 1913, and the State Gymnasium was opened in 1922. It was the center of many cultural associations. In sports Shkodër was the first city in Albania to constitute a sports association, the "Vllaznia" (brotherhood). Vllaznia Shkodër is the oldest sport club in Albania.
During the early 1990s, Shkodër was once again a major center, this time of the democratic movement that finally brought to an end the communist regime established by Enver Hoxha. In the later 2000s (decade), the city experiences a rebirth as main streets are being paved, buildings painted and streets renamed. In December 2010, Shkodër and the surrounding region was hit by probably the worst flooding in the last 100 years. In 2011, a new swing bridge over the Buna River was constructed, thus replacing the old bridge nearby.
The municipality of Shkodër is encompassed in the County of Shkodër within the Northern Region of Albania and consists of the administrative units of Ana e Malit, Bërdicë, Dajç, Guri i Zi, Postribë, Pult, Rrethinat, Shalë, Shosh, Velipojë and Shkodër as its seat.
Shkodër is the largest city in northern Albania, lying near latitude 42° 4' N, and longitude 19 ° 31' E. Geologically, Shkodër extends strategically on the Mbishkodra Plain between the marshlands of Lake Shkodër and the foothills of the Albanian Alps, the southernmost continuation of the Dinaric Alps. The northeast is dominated by Mount Maranaj standing at 1,576 metres (5,171 ft) above the Adriatic. Hydrologically, the city is trapped on three sides by the rivers Kir in the east, Drin in the south and Buna in the west. Rising from Lake Shkodër, Buna flows into the Adriatic Sea, forming the border with Montenegro. The river joins the Drin for approximately 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) southwest of the city. In the east, Shkodër is bordered by Kir, which originates from the north flowing also into the Drin, that surrounds Shkodër in the south.
Lake Shkodër lies in the west of the city and forms the frontier of Albania and Montenegro. The lake became the symbol of the stable and consistent economic and social divide of the city. Although, the lake is the largest lake in Southern Europe and an important habitat for various animal and plant species. Further, the Albanian section has been designated as a Nature Reserve. In 1996, it also has been recognised as a wetland of international importance by designation under the Ramsar Convention. River Buna connects the lake with the Adriatic Sea, while the Drin provides a link with Lake Ohrid in the southeast of Albania. It is a cryptodepression, filled by the river Mora?a and drained into the Adriatic by the 41 km (25 mi) long Buna.
Shköder has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) climate, that is almost wet enough in July to be a humid subtropical climate, with continental influences. The average yearly temperature varies from 14.5 °C (58.1 °F) to 16.8 °C (62.2 °F). Although, mean monthly temperature ranges between 1.8 °C (35.2 °F) to 10.3 °C (50.5 °F) in January and 20.2 °C (68.4 °F) to 33.6 °C (92.5 °F) in August. The average yearly precipitation is about 1,700 millimetres (66.9 in), which makes the area one of the wettest in Europe.
|Climate data for Shkodra (1991-2020)|
|Average high °C (°F)||10.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.1
|Average low °C (°F)||1.8
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||130.3
|Average rainy days||9||10||11||10||9||4||3||4||7||9||12||11||99|
The main activities of the processing industry in Shkodra were the processing of tobacco and manufacture of cigarettes, production of preserved foods, sugar-based foods, soft and alcoholic drinks, and pasta, bread, rice and vegetable oil. The main activities of the textile industry were focused on garments and silk products. The city also had a wood-processing and paper-production plant. The most important mechanical engineering industries concerned wire manufacturing, elevator manufacturing, bus assembly and the Drini Plant.
According to the World Bank, Shkodër has had significant steps of improving the economy in recent years. In 2016, Shkodër ranked 8 among 22 cities in Southeastern Europe before the capital Tirana, Belgrade, Serbia and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As the largest city in northern Albania, the city is the main road connection between the Albanian capital, Tirana and Montenegrin capital Podgorica. The SH1 leads to the Albanian-Montenegrin border at Han i Hotit border crossing. From Tirana at the Kamza Bypass northward, it passes through Fushë-Kruja, Milot, Lezha, Shkodra, and Koplik. The road segment between Hani i Hotit at the Montenegrin border and Shkodra was completed in 2013 as a single carriageway standard. Shkodër Bypass started after the 2010 Albania floods. It was planned to incorporate a defensive dam against Shkodër Lake but works were abandoned a few years later. The road continues as a single carriageway down to Milot and contains some uncontrolled and dangerous entry and exit points. The SH5 starts from Shkodër to Morinë.
The 20th century found Shkodër with a population of around 30,000 to 40,000. After Albanian Independence in 1912 the city numbered 23,000 inhabitants. Surveys in 1926-27 showed the city not to have experienced any relative growth, a figure of 23,784 inhabitants being given, which was the same figure as confirmed for the data of the population census of 1918, according to which Shkodër in 1918 had a population of 23,099.
In 1918, the majority - two thirds - of the population was Muslim and one third was Catholic with a small community of Orthodox faith of Slavic and Vlah origin who immigrated to Shkodër during the 19th century. The city was divided into 12 mahallas, of which nine were inhabited by the Muslim and three by the Catholic population, and a separated bazaar. The Muslims were mostly to be found in the quarters on the west side of the city while the Catholics were living in the quarters on the east side of the city. The Orthodox population mostly lived within the Muslim quarters. As of current, Shkodër is the 4th most populous city in Albania and the largest city in the Shkodër County. According to the Albanian national Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), the city of Shkodër include 77,075 people as of the 2011 Census.
The city of Shkodër was one of the most important centres for Islamic scholars and cultural and literary activity in Albania. Here stands the site of the only institution in Albania which provides high-level education in Arabic, Turkish and Islamic Studies. Shkodër is the center of Roman Catholicism in Albania. The Roman Catholic Church is represented in Shkodër by the episcopal seat of the Metropolitan Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Shkodër-Pult (Scutari-Pulati) in Shkodër Cathedral, with the current seat of the prelacy. According to Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), Catholics make up about 47% of the population followed by Muslims (including the Bektashi minority) with 45% of the Shkodër County. About 1.5% of the population identify as non-Catholic Christians, 0.14% are Atheists and 0.31% identify themselves as believers without denomination.
Shkodër is an important educational and industrial center. The city produces various mechanical and electrical components, along with textile and food products. Luigj Gurakuqi University of Shkodër is one of the more prestigious learning centers of Albania. The public library of the city contains more than 250,000 books. Other cultural institutions include the Cultural Center, the Marubi Photo Archives, the Artists and Writers Association, the Migjeni Theatre (named after Millosh Gjergj Nikolla), the Gallery of Arts and the Museum of History. Historic cultural architecture includes the Castle of Shkodër, the Turkish Bath, and the Lead Mosque. The Castle of Shkodër became famous during the First Balkan War when it was protected by the Turkish general Hasan Riza Pasha and Esad Pasha. Many festivals take place on an annual basis such as Carnival, Children Festival, Lake Day and Shkodra Jazz Fest.
City tunes differ from the rural music of the land, but both enjoy popularity in Shkodra. Northern music is a refined combination of romantic and sophisticated undertones with oriental-sounding scales and a constant interplay of major and minor. It bears a significant affinity with the sevdalinke of Bosnia, but differs from them in their extreme forms while maintaining a typically Albanian quality through the exceptional fluidity of rhythm and tempo. Early descriptions of such music groups, which date from the end of the 19th century, suggest use of the violin, clarinet, saze, defi, and sometimes Indian-style harmonium and percussion (provided by rattling a stick between two bottles). Today, the accordion and guitar have replaced the more exotic instruments. Among the most important players are Bik Ndoja, Luçije Miloti, Xhevdet Hafizi and Bujar Qamili.
The city and the surrounding area are blessed with a large variety of natural and cultural elements. The most attractive quarters of the city are commonly thought to be Pjaca, identifiable as the main city centre between statues of Mother Teresa and Luigj Gurakuqi, and Gjuhadol, the neighborhood around one of the most scenic streets connecting the cathedral on the east side of town with the middle of the city. The most recognizable memorial is the legendary Castle of Rozafa known also as Rozafati. Lake of Shkodër is the largest lake in South Europe. It is a major summer attraction for tourists and inhabitants. Another interesting historical site is the ruins of Shurdhah (Sarda), a medieval town situated only 15 kilometres (9 miles) from Shkodër. To go out there you must take a motor-boat from the dam of Vau i Dejës out to the island where Shurdhah is located (about 10 miles, or 16 km). Shurdhah was built atop a hill on the island, roughly 5 ha in area, surrounded by the waters of the Drini river (which has been rerouted now to form an artificial lake). At one time it was the summer retreat of the famous Dukagjini Family. About 5 km (3 mi) east of Shkodër lies the medieval citadel of Drisht.
Many visitors feel that Shkodër is the soul of Albania. The very characteristic appearance of the city is formed by the juxtaposition of ancient houses and narrow streets joined with stone walls and modern buildings. After World War II, some of Shkodër was rebuilt with wider streets to accommodate automotive traffic, and new residential buildings are being constructed all the time.
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