It seems, for the moment, not yet possible to totally forget about the recent history of Albania. The country is full of natural and historical sights, the young population is welcoming to visitors; enough reason to merit a visit. But the past of the country is there, too, and often emerges while visiting the country. In Tirana, we were curious about the pyramid, and headed there on a sunny summer morning. Knowing it must be on a square on our left, we almost passed it; and only realized later on that the neglected building we saw was in fact the infamous pyramid. Somehow expecting to see a grandiose building, reflecting the omnipotent character of the Hoxha regime, we were surprised to see a grayish building with broken glass, all covered in colourful graffiti for its lowest 2 metres.
We walked around the building, and I could not help but wonder about the symbolism for the former dictator. Once the strong man of the country, a totalitarian ruler of a kind not found very often in the league of dictators, Hoxha has all but disappeared from public life. When he died in 1985, 4 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall that would change Europe, and his country, forever, he was still very much in power, and three years later, his daughter and son-in-law designed this memorial building in his honour. It housed the Museum of Enver Hoxha, which undoubtedly was supposed to last for a long time as the reminder of the greatness of the Leader. Inside stood a statue of Hoxha, and even though I will never be able to see the museum since it has been closed in the early 1990s, I can only imagine how its function was to sing praise on the Albanian dictator.
Things look slightly different now in Albania, though, and the pyramid is probably one of the most telling symbols. It appears to be totally without maintenance, many of the windows are broken, the concrete is covered with graffiti with skulls, hearts, and many other symbols, and the sloping walls of the building are great for kids to climb on. Curiously, the discotheque on one side of the pyramid is called Mumja; but looking at the entrance, one can wonder when was the last time people were dancing the night away in this establishment. So, it seems, time in the end wins over everyone; even the harshest dictator, who has an iron hold on society, can fade from public life in a matter of years, and his iconic building with him - his statues have been torn down already in the early 1990s. I could not help but wonder what the former dictator, who steered his country to almost absolute isolationism, away from all powers in Europe and beyond, who had many opponents executed, would say if he were to see reality in his country now, where the Albanian flag can often be seen in between the Stars and Strips of the USA, and the European flag. There is even talk that the pyramid will be replaced by a new building.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Tirana Pyramid (Albania). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Tirana Pyramid.
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