Korca is an Albanian city situated in the southern part of the country, close to the borders with Greece and Macedonia. It’s placed at an altitude of 850 m above sea level and is populated by 100,000 inhabitants. In Korca was created the first Albanian school in 1878, and the first girls’ school an year later: these made Korca get the title of cultural capital of Albania. The city is also important for Italians: it was one of the focus cities during the Greek-Italian War, in 1940-1941.
During the Italian occupation of Albania the swamp Maliqi was reclaimed, getting a fertile farmland that now gives inhabitants cereals, sugar and beer (do not miss the brewery in Korca, furthermore in summer takes place a nice beer festival).
How to get to Korca
An interesting – but slow – way to get to Korca from Tirana is to take the train, which departs at 06:00 from Tirana and makes a big detour via Durres: travel time is four hours to Elbasan, about 35 km from Tirana, then perhaps you might think to take the train directly here, arriving in Elbasan by taxi or furgon. Trains are OK, although for some unclear reasons many windows are damaged. The scenery is beautiful, and until October you can keep the window wide open.
Another way to get to Korca from Tirana is by furgon, more expensive than trains, 600 lek or € 4, but it is a faster way to go to Korca. Along the journey you may want to stop in some small traditional restaurants, where you will be able to enjoy some of traditional Albanian food.
Mosque Iljaz Mirahori
One of the most important places of Korca is the mosque Iljaz Mirahori (you can ask for directions in Albanian: Xhamia and Iljaz Mirahorit). It was built by Iljaz Hoxha, known as Iljaz Mirahor Bey, and it has been a cultural monument of Albania since 1948.
The bazaar of Korca
For the elder Albanians the market of Korca is still the old Pazar, also known as the market of the serenades: for centuries in this place was composed and sang music. Today the importance of the market in Korca is a bit dropped, but it is still a meeting place for local as well as for different cultures: Albanians, Greeks and Macedonians living in the area get together and stay in peace.