Yesterday evening, after a record ten months of work, Scanderbeg Square, the capital’s main and most important square for Albanians, was inaugurated. Scanderbeg square has a long history. It was designed by Brasini, an Italian architect, back in 1937. In 1968, it was named after the Albanian national hero Scanderbeg, whose bust substituted that of Stalin. Many important buildings surround the sqare, like Ethem Beu Mosque, Palace of Culture, Opera House, Tirana International Hotel, Municipality, National Museum and the Central Bank of Albania.
The square, 40.000m2, has always been the arena for many important events, like manifestations, concerts, open fairs and after the 90s, for political demonstrations, the most important of which was the tumbling of Enver Hoxha’s bust, the communist dictator.
During these years of democracy there have been various projects for its reconstruction, but never concluded until now, which left the square looking the best in years. It was concluded in only 10 months, a record time for Albania, where bureaucracy and corruption delay everything.
The Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, a young leftist politician educated in the USA, mentioned in his speech yesterday that for its reconstruction natural stones, plates, and trees from all Albanian districts were used, exactly 35.000 flowers, 10.000 plants and 5.000 trees. There is a underground parking, a wedding altar, 11 small parks, a solar panel lightening system, and many small fountains which help preserve the micro-climate as there is 2100 m3 of water under the square.
During last night’s inaguration ceremony, among folk songs and dances from all over Albania, what impressed most was a folk French band, who sang acappella two polyphonic Albanian songs (iso polifonia popullore), which is a polyphonic singing tradition protected by UNESCO since 2005. Three was also an Arberesh folk group. Albanians settled in Calabria Italy 500 years ago after Scanderbeg’ s death, still preserving the Albanian language and culture. Thousands of people attended the ceremony live or through direct broadcasting.
The architecture of Tirana Scanderbeg Square will also be part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial in September, as one of the best in Europe.