UNESCO in ALBANIA: The worldwide protected Albanian treasures

Posted on 6 April 2023

Albanian culture represents indescribable value for the Albanian people, the country, and the region. Parts of this culture have a special place; they are paramount to the world heritage and serve as a testimony of the way of living of civilization, bearing great values. For this reason, we mustn’t lose them, but preserve and maintain them, and pass along the knowledge, so the next generations can understand and value their culture, proudly inherit their identity, improve and get inspired by these models of civilization. For this culture not to get lost, UNESCO has included, up until now, eight Albanian treasures in its lists of world heritage.

What is UNESCO?

After the second world war, terror and separation left a mark of incredible pain on the world’s memory. To secure peace, understanding, and sustainability in the world, The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization was founded in 1945. UNESCO‘s mission is to contribute to building a culture of peace, eradication of poverty, sustainable development, and intercultural dialogue.

UNESCO në Shqipëri

Albania on The World Heritage List


Yes, this is Butrint of the “Twelfth Night”, otherwise known, as one of the favorite resting places for the Greco-Roman aristocracy of ancient times. It is located 25 km from the city of Saranda and extends from the shores of the Ionian Sea of the Delvina field. For the combination of the diverse natural landscapes with the remains and ancient artifacts of the Greco-Roman culture, Butrint enjoys the status of a golden name in the history of Albanian archaeology, the historical part is part of UNESCO since 1992, while the lake of Butrint is an Area Specially Protected, according to the Barcelona Convention of 1995. Here you can even see large blocks with Pelasgian inscriptions. Observing the historical points and enjoying the natural beauty are undoubtedly the primary and most important activities when visiting Butrint. Butrint is the historical evidence of the continuity of cultures that have affected the area, from the Greek period to the Middle Ages.

Berat and Gjirokastra historical centers

Berat and Gjirokastra are early settlements of southern Albania and their fortified historical centers, with the one-over-the-other house architecture of the Ottoman style, influenced by the ancient culture, but also because they have been and continue to be inhabited, they have crucial values for their period. Berat is well known for the grand castle, the two historical neighborhoods of Mangalem and Gorica, the stone bridge, the blue river Osum that divides them, etc. Gjirokastra, known as the stone city, with its gray pitched roofs, cobbled streets, the extraordinary panorama of characteristic two-story houses, its historic bazaar, and the beauty of the landscape. These historical centers are filled with rare beauty and precious values.

Ohrid Lake

Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest lakes in Europe and the world. Its age is estimated between 4 and 10 million years old and is of tectonic origin. The green waters are home to over 200 endemic species. Since the beginning of time, the lake has served as a source of life, communities, and civilizations have developed around it, and today two modern states lie around it. This is the deepest lake in the Balkans. The lake offers spectacular views and in Pogradec, it has traditionally served as a beach spot. You can spend your summer vacation, go for a relaxing day, enjoy the fantastic cuisine of the area, go fishing, or go boating on the lake.

Gashi River and Rrajca

Two natural treasures of Albania are part of a wealth shared between eighteen European countries. Gashi River and Rrajca are on UNESCO’s list of Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe. Rrajca represents a unique ecosystem near the border with North Macedonia, almost entirely untouched, rich in extraordinary landscapes and rare biodiversity. The Balkan Lynx can be found here too. Gashi River, on the other hand, is located in the north, near Valbona. A great amount of the area is covered in Beech forests. This area offers wonderful views, where the landscape of mountains merges with cold, crystal waters, and the greenery of the trees.

Albania on the Intangible Heritage List

Albanian iso-polyphony

Albanian iso-polyphony has been declared by UNESCO as an oral and spiritual heritage of the world. This way of singing, which is thought to have been inherited from ancient times, has a special technique and is a rare skill. Iso-polyphony has accompanied the Albanian people in history in the happiest and saddest moments, since we see that it is sung in times of sorrow, but also in times of joy. It is thought and accepted that the true origin place of Albanian iso-polyphony is the south, but can also be found in the north of the country. Those who listen say that this way of singing lifts the heart and fills it with unusual emotions. The melody, the technical difficulty, and the rich history make the iso-polyphonic song monumental.

Xhubleta, craftsmanship, and how is used

There are many legends about the origin, shape, and reasons why xhubleta is presented to us in such a form. One thing is certain, xhubleta comes from antiquity and is Albania’s passport in the field of ethnic costume design. This unusual suit takes its name from the emblematic, wrinkled bell-like shape of the skirt. Others think that the shapes of the costume, made with shajak straps are a tribute to the Albanian Alps. With an ensemble of delicate and original decorations, xhubleta combines colors with early decorative symbols that can be traced back in time to the Illyrians and even to the Crete-Mycenaean culture. However, xhubleta is important as evidence of the continuity of early ancient culture, but also for the craftsmanship of making it and how is used, a culture which unfortunately is in danger of being lost. As the latest Albanian cultural element included in UNESCO, xhubleta is in the attention of all authorities to be preserved as evidence of the way of life and millennial companion of highlands women.

Albania in the Memory of the World Collection

Codex Purpureus Beratinus

The Purple Codex of Berat (known as Codex Purpureus Beratinus) are two gospels found in Berat that belong to the group of seven purple codices that survive in the world today. Beratinus 1 belongs to the sixth century and represents one of the four oldest archetypes of the New Testament; is of great importance for understanding the development of biblical and liturgical literature in the world. Beratinus 2 belongs to the ninth century. Both codices are a precious asset that today, after restoration and replication for study and cultural reasons, are kept in the National Archives of Albania.