Origin of Name

Although a new and modern capital city the origins of Tirana as an inhabited centre are old with several theories and myths associating its current name with ancient words. One version is that its name derives from the word Theranda that Greek and Latin sources employed when referring to the area after the term te ranat, Albanian for ‘that which has fallen’, a reference to the soil and substrate swept down by water from Dajti Mountain. Another theory is that it comes from the word Tirkan, the name used by the sixth century Byzantine historian Prokop to refer to a castle, first built in the first century BC, on Mount Dajti, and the ruins of which are still there. Some say it comes from tyros, the old Greek word for ‘dairy’, with the hypothesis that it was in the fields here that local shepherds gathered to trade dairy products.

City foundation (Ottoman impact)

Modern Tirana was founded in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini Pasha, a local ruler from Mullet who constructed a mosque, a bakery and a hamam (Turkish sauna). The city began to grow at the beginning of the 18th century but it remained an unimportant town until it was proclaimed Albania’s capital in 1920. The choice was made due to its central geographical position in the country, on the fault-line between the northern Ghegs and the southern Tosks. It wasn’t until the late 1920s when, under Italian influence, the centre of the city took on the appearance of a capital city.