FROM SHKODER TO OROSH

FROM SHKODRA TO OROSH (MIRDITA)

The following is a write up from the Italian Touring Club, published in Milan, Italy 1940. It encompasses travel guides, maps and recommendations for anyone who wanted to travel to Albania. On page 168 one can find reference to Orosh, Mirdita and the Sarajet of the Kapidan along with a general description of the area.

Carriage km. 37 to Korthpule, then mule track. It is one of the most interesting routes in Albania, both for the panoramic beauty of the route and for the costumes of the Mirditi. The excursion is done comfortably in 2 days. You take the carriage of Puka, follow it to Vau Dejes, then deviate SE for 37 km, Korthpule m. 541. From here you take a mule track that goes into the Gjadri valley, a tributary of the Drin, up to its intersection with the Vonna, then up the valley to the village of Kolivac m. 202. Continue to Kashnjeti and St. George (Shen Gjergi), cross the Great Fandi (Fand i Madh) to Van Mach, climb the Great Stairs (Shkall and Madhe) to descend into the valley of the Small Fandi (Fandi i Vogel) and reach Blinisht in Mirdita. You cross the river and you arrive at Orosh m. 640, dwelling 1500 (Catholics), a country formed by groups of houses on the slope of Holy Mountain (Mali i Shenjit) m. 1430.

And the center of Mirdita, inhabited by the Mirditi, a large tribe of about 20,000 Catholic inhabitants, dedicated to pastoralism, which during the centuries, dating to Lek Dukagjini, have remained faithful to the prescriptions of the “Kanun”, without worrying about the laws that were issued by the central authority. The first time that the Mirditi spontaneously recognized an authority, other than that of the Kanun, was when their Chief (Kapidan, hereditary position) Prince Gjon Marka Gjoni, came to Tirana to pay homage to the Lieutenant General and to take an oath of allegiance to the His Majesty the King of Italy and Albania, Emperor of Ethiopia. Orosh was destroyed in 1877 by the Turks for its irreducible spirit to the rulers. The Kapidan’s house was also destroyed. His current residence, built in 1925 then relocated further upstream from Orosh, in Fage, is surrounded by thick walls and has windows with loopholes.

The current Kapidan, appointed Senator for his merit and for his attachment to Italy, has also built a Boarding School for the children of the region, the sons of shepherds, who in dire straits in winter due to the snow, would not have otherwise been able to receive an education.

On the other side of the valley is the small modern Cathedral of St. Alexander; here resides the Bishop Abate, who depends directly on Rome and has 16 parishes under him. On top of the Holy Mountain, until the year 1500, sat the ancient Abbey of St. Alexander, abandoned when the Turks arrived; now there is a chapel and a small house.

The tourist will notice that in this region the physiognomic characters of the ancient Illyrians have been preserved almost intact; while from the moral and social point of view the sentiment of justice is still identified with that of revenge. But a chivalrous spirit, common even to the humblest, makes the guest sacred, to whom even the poorest shepherd always finds something to offer with dignity and a grace at the same time. All characteristics of these people as well as the costumes of both men and women are also interesting.

Bianca Gjomarkaj

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