At the base of Kruja’s mountain, one can see the ruins of the Krujë Castle which holds within it the National Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, the most revered of all Albanian heroes. Skanderbeg’s personality, his political pragmatism, and his ability to reunite Albanian families which had been divided for six centuries, rendered him the most significant figure of Albanian history. It was Skanderbeg’s return to Krujë, following his childhood in Turkey, that forever linked the city to his name and vice versa. As the leader of the country during one of its most glorious periods, Gjergj Kastrioti created an army that successfully fended off the Ottomans’ advances for 25 years, until his death in 1468.
It is not sufficient to say that the museum of Skanderbeg is a national treasure. This landmark of Kruja has been one of the most visited places in the country, ever since its opening in 1982. This beautiful architectural object represents a grand collaboration of experts of all fields including a team of important Albanian architects, led by Pirro Vaso and Pranvera Hoxha, who drew inspiration from the conceptual platform devised by Aleks Buda, then chair of the Academy of Sciences of Albania, as well as teams led by the renowned historian Kristo Frashëri and the talented Albanian painter, Bashkim Ahmeti. The museum was conceived as a memorial, where its architecture was seamlessly synchronized with history and the medieval arts. The museum beautifully impacts Kruja’s skyline, blending in the natural landscape and adding a contemporary flair to the medieval Castle of Kruja.
Upon entering the museum, you are confronted with a beautiful alto relief of Skanderbeg and his brave soldiers. This massive sculpture artistically represents the symbolic moment of the countless wars led by this national hero and masterfully details the clothing and armor of the time. The museum exhibits many visual art pieces which portray Skanderbeg in his various roles as statesman, warrior and battle commander. The pavilions store documents, original bibliographies, and reproductions which recount the history of Albania during the 15th century.
The museum shows, in chronological order, the life of the Albanian principalities through ceramic, bronze, iron, and copper objects, original icons, swords of the time, as well as a grand bell that dates back to 1462. The walls are covered in beautiful Byzantine-style frescoes which romanticize Skanderbeg’s return to Krujë and glorify the unification of the once-divided Albanian principalities. The National Museum in Krujë is equipped with guides in both Albanian and English, which tell this significant story of Albania’s history and its hero, whose name has now become part of world-renowned bibliographies and has inspired countless Albanian and international artists.