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Albania: Tirana Pyramid

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Tirana Pyramid | Albania | Europe

[Visited: August 2012]

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.

Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): View of the pyramid from one side

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.

Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): The Mumja discotheque has seen better days

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.

Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): Frontal view of the pyramid, once the Museum of Enver Hoxha
Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): Boy wondering what to do next on the slope of the pyramid
Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): Once the Museum of Enver Hoxha, the pyramid now is decaying building of concrete and glass
Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): Broken windows and graffiti at the entrance of the Mumja discotheque
Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): Especially seen from up close, the pyramid appears like a tired old building
Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): One of the friendlier, international graffiti on the face of the pyramid
Picture of Tirana Pyramid (Albania): Graffiti on the pyramid; apparently the main function of the former Museum of Enver Hoxha

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