Tiranë is the capital and the largest city of Albania.
The first nucleus of the city center was born in Roman-Byzantine Empire (Theranda), the period of its first expansion, but in the course of its history it was occupied by the Turkish-Ottoman Empire, and finally agglomeration in the Kingdom of Italy. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of 600,000, with metro area population of 763,634.
The city is host to public institutions and private universities, and is the centre of the political, economic, and cultural life of the country.
The Municipality of Tirana is located at (41.33°N, 19.82°E) in Tirana District, Tirana County, about 32 kilometers (20 mi) inland.
The area occupied by Tirana has been populated since Paleolithic times dating back 10,000 to 30,000 years ago as suggested by evidence from tools found near Mount Dajt's quarry and in Pellumba Cave. As argued by various archaeologists, Tirana and its suburbs are filled with Illyrian toponyms as its precincts are some of the earliest regions in Albania to be inhabited.
Records from the first land registrations under the Ottomans in 1431–32 show that Tirana consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 2,028 houses and 7,300 inhabitants. In 1614, Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler established the Ottoman town with a mosque, a commercial centre, and a hammam (Turkish sauna).
The town was located along caravan routes and grew rapidly in importance until the early 19th century.
In 1939, Tirana was captured by Fascist forces appointing a puppet government. In the meantime, Italian architect Gherardo Bosio was asked to elaborate on previous plans and introduce a new project in the area of present day Mother Teresa Square.By the early 1940s, the southern portion of the main boulevard and surrounding buildings were finished and renamed with Fascist names. A failed assassination attempt was carried towards Victor Emmanuel III of Italy by a local resistance activist during a visit in Tirana. In November 1941, Enver Hoxha founded the Communist Party of Albania.
The period following the fall of communism until the late 1990s is often described negatively in terms of urban development even though significant utility investments were made. Kiosks and apartment buildings started to be built without planning on former public areas. Informal districts formed around the city as internal migrants gathered from around the country.
During this period, Albania was transformed from a centrally planned economy into a market economy.
In 2000, former Tirana mayor Edi Rama undertook a campaign to demolish illegal buildings around the city centre and on Lana River banks to bring the area to its pre-1990 state. In addition, Rama led the initiative to paint the façades of Tirana's buildings in bright colours, although much of their interiors continue to degrade. Public transport was privatized and newer second hand buses were introduced. Municipal services were expanded, a richer calendar of events introduced, and a Municipal Police force established. Most main roads underwent reconstruction such the Ring Road (Unaza), Kavaja Street, and the main boulevard. Common areas between apartment buildings were brought back to normality after decades of neglect, while parks, city squares, and sports recreational areas were renovated giving Tirana a more European look.
Some critics argue that traditional houses are being threatened by continuous construction of apartment buildings while some green areas are being used for the construction of skyscrapers. In fact, Rama has been accused by critics of political corruption while issuing building permits, but he has dismissed the claims as baseless. Decreasing urban space and increased traffic congestion have become major problems as a general construction chaos is observed in Tirana.
In 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush marked the first time that such a high ranking American official visited Tirana. A central Tirana street was named in his honor. In 2008, the 2008 Gërdec explosions were felt in the capital as windows were shattered and citizens shaken. In 21 January 2011, Albanian police clashed with opposition supporters in front of the Government building as cars were set on fire, three persons killed, and 150 wounded.
Although much has been achieved, critics argue that there is no clear vision on Tirana's future. Some of the pressing issues facing Tirana are loss of public space due to illegal and chaotic construction, unpaved roads in suburban areas, degradation of Tirana's Artificial Lake, rehabilitation of Skanderbeg Square, an ever present smog, the construction of a central bus station, and lack of public parking space. Future plans include the construction of the Multimodal Station of Tirana and the tram line, rehabilitation of the Tiranë River area, construction of a new boulevard along the former Tirana Railway Station, and the finishing of the Big Ring Road.
The main cultural institutions of Tirana are the National Theater, the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania, and the National Arts Gallery (Galeria Kombëtare e Arteve). Performances of renown world composers are regularly performed by the Symphonic Orchestra of the Albanian Radio and Television.
The city serves as a venue for the Tirana Biennale, Tirana Jazz Festival, Summer Day, White Night on 28 November, Rally Albania, Netet e Klipit Shqiptar, and Tirana Fashion Week. Tirana has been redesigning its identity to a more Mediterranean city lined with cafes and a "vibrant" nightlife.
The Municipality of Tirana is divided into 11 administrative units referred to as Njësi Bashkiake (Municipal units). These have their own mayor and council, and sometimes are known as Mini-Bashki (Mini-Municipality).
In 2000, the centre of Tirana from the central campus of Tirana University up to Skanderbeg Square was declared the place of Cultural Assembly, and given state protection. The historical core of the capital lies around pedestrian only Murat Toptani Street, while the most prominent city district is Blloku. Once a secluded and heavily guarded Politbureau residential area, it has turned into a district where the young and fashionable fill the clubs and cafes. Tirana's influential elite live in the village of Selita on Tirana's outskirts. The area is famous for its villa architecture.
Until recently the city lacked a proper address system. In 2010, the municipality undertook the installing of street name signs and entrance numbers while every apartment entrance was physically stamped.
The preparation of a new master plan for Tirana was under way for almost a decade (2002–2011). Two interim reports prepared by Urbaplan - a Swiss consultant, and CoPlan - an Albanian urban planning institute were released in 2007 and 2008 respectively. However, the plan was turned down by the National Planning Council of Albania (KRRTRSH). In the meantime, the Municipality announced in 2011 that a new regulatory plan would be prepared within 2012.
The city suffers from problems related to overpopulation, such as waste management, high levels of air pollution and significant noise pollution. Over the last decades, air pollution has increased by a significant amount as the number of cars has increased to over 300,000. Despite the problems, the Big Park at the Tirana Artificial Lake has some effect on absorbing CO2 emissions, while over 2 000 trees have been planted around sidewalks.
(Source : wikipedia 2013-2014)