Albania, Bahrain, and Autocratic Popular Geography

The Black Hole of Tirana The Albanian capital of Tirana will never be able to fully purge itself of totalitarian urban planning.  The city centre was designed by the Fascists during the Italian occupation of Albania in the 1930s, and they installed wide streets and open squares, perfect venues for holding military parades.  After the war, during the Communist period, this design was augmented with angular Stalinist constructions (the Palace of Culture and the National Museum) in the centre and high-rise concrete residence blocks in the outskirts.  Enver Hoxha [pronuncation] was a man who understood the propagandist potential of space: … Continue reading Albania, Bahrain, and Autocratic Popular Geography

A Brief History of Modern Albania

Of all the countries we visited on this trip in which we spent enough time for me to feel I can judge them properly, Albania was the one I liked the most.  This is probably because I’ve been obsessed with Albania for years on a level comparable only with Georgia, and for largely similar reasons.  I was therefore absolutely convinced that I would enjoy Albania, so enjoy it I did. Albania’s recent past is one of the more absurd bits of European post-war history, so I’ll run you through it quickly. After the Second World War, Yugoslavia’s head of state … Continue reading A Brief History of Modern Albania

Croatia and Montenegro

CROATIA: Our journey from Mostar to Dubrovnik can be best described as circuitous.  Dubrovnik is a coastal exclave, isolated from the rest of Croatia by the city of Neum, which is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s only coastline.  In 1699, when Dubrovnik was its own nation-state, it voluntarily gave up control over Neum to the Ottomans, mostly in order to form a powerful buffer between themselves and the Republic of Venice which lay to the north.  The anomaly has remained ever since. The area around Dubrovnik is mountainous, so it is best to approach along the coast.  To do this from Mostar, … Continue reading Croatia and Montenegro