It's curious to see how warped our idea of a place in the world can be sometimes. The reputation for being the last bastion of Stalinism and Maoism bossing around hand in hand did not earn the country a particular liking and it wasn't until recently that even die-hard explorers, previously wary of potential threats, started to heat up their long-cooled ambitions to force through the finally weakened fortifications. Others still foster conspicuous hesitation or, most commonly, doubt whether it's noteworthy at all. Meanwhile, Albania has everything and more.
From the post-glacial lakes and lush foliage of Lura National Park to the glittering Ionian coastline with Saranda as its most precious pearl. From congested main roads of bustling Tirana to a thousand windows and the labyrinthine streets of adorable Berat. From the most secluded territories of sky-tickling Prokletije to fluffy gangs of sheep grazing on daisy-covered meadows.
Albanian architecture is quite another matter. Surrounded by powerful empires since times immemorial, Albania has welded Greek, Roman, and Ottoman elements into so rich an alloy that you'll have a hard time deciding what to focus your camera on. Here the magnificent Orthodox Church of Saint George in Korçë competes for beauty laurels with numerous mosques scattered all over the country, the ancient UNESCO Heritage sites of Butrint fight for supremacy with the magnificent ruins of Durres, and the world-forsaken monasteries reflecting in azure waters of Lake Ohrid humbly assume their ex equo place on the podium next to the outdoor museum of Gjirokastra.
Although the bygone era pretty much washed the country out of its flamboyant folklore, if you open up your mind and dig down low into the heart of Albania, there you'll find it in all its glory. Enjoy!