After 26 months and an investment of 84.000 Euros, the mediaeval city of Kruja reclaims today its castle’s hammam, a cultural monument of the highest category and an attraction for potential tourists. The Swedish foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders—Albania (CHwB Albania), in cooperation with the Institute of Monuments of Culture and with funding from the Government of Sweden, inaugurated today the restored hammam of Kruja, one of the oldest of its kind in our country. The restoration process also included the revitalisation of the hammam, making it one of the first functioning traditional hammams in the Balkans, and making way for the development of a bigger network of service-based cultural heritage sites.
Attending the inauguration ceremony, which took place on Wednesday, June 10, were Minister of Culture, Mrs. Mirela Kumbaro, Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of Sweden, Mr. Patrik Svensson, and head of CHwB Albania office, Mrs. Lejla Hadzic, and representatives from central and local government.
In her welcoming address, Mrs. Hadzic noted that: “The work with heritage is ever challenging. To make it relevant to people is what we believe matters! Cultural heritage is a solid platform for economic development, and here is one example.”
Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of Sweden, Mr. Patrik Svensson, was the person who symbolically handed to Minister Kumbaro the restored and revitalised hammam. In his speech, Mr. Svensson highlighted that: “Cultural heritage, as important as it may be for one’s nation, can also be a bridge to economic development, through tourism. Tourism, being also one of the priorities of the Albanian Government, can also be enhanced by restoration, preservation and revitalization of cultural heritage.”
Minister of Culture Kumbaro in her speech stressed that: ”It’s fantastic that this project not only has saved the monument as such, but is bringing it back to life for all the delights of our ancestors, also as a source of income, boost for tourism and completing a rich tourist itinerary for Kruja.”
The hammam of Kruja, built toward the end of the 15th century, belongs to the Ottoman period and is one of seven hammams that can be found in Albania. In its restoration were used traditional methods and materials, with all the supplies were transported manually from the end of the road at the top of the fortress,as it was in the times when the hammam was first built. Among the traditional materials used were egg whites, which were mixed into the finishing layer of lime plaster, brick dust in horasan (red plaster), as well as a clay and lime mixture, which was used to secure the brick tiles to domes and roof. The inauguration of Kruja’s hammam is the celebration of 14 months of restoration work, following 12 months of detailed survey and documentation, conducted by 20 dedicated specialists, workers and craftsmen, who contributed to the revitalization of the monument.
CHwB Albania’s objectives in this restoration and revitalization project include developing cultural heritage for sustainable income generation by restoring this monument to its original function. This restoration will boost financial incentives for members of the community by revitalising the surrounding neighbourhood, increasing tourism to the castle of Kruja, and beginning a larger initiative to create a national network of functional traditional hammams.