Aug
03
2006
0

The Church of Ristoz – Mborje, Albania (outside of Korce)

The Church of Ristoz - Mborje

Finding the Church of Ristoz, what the local population claimed was the “oldest church in the balkans,” was not easy. The people of Korce all seemed to offer generalized directions (“by the beer factory” or “up that way”) so it took a bit of time and a bit of walking to find it. The mountainside village, resting safely above Korce valley, was in the middle of road and pipe repairs so that the entire village roads were dug up and impassable by anything not resembling an army tank.

We were directed around a corner and managed to find the front gate but were disappointed to see the church door closed and no windows at all to peek in. We walked around back to find four teenage boys smoking and lazing around in the shade of a tree. They told us the guy who maintained the church wasn’t there at the moment. After a few minutes walking around the church clearly disappointed, one of boys asked if we “really needed to see it” and we said we had come from far just for this. He said okay and set off down the road to find the man who held the key. Ten minutes later, he returned key in hand, and unlocked the door and let us be.

The doors opened to a dark and mysterious three roomed church, intact with ancient christian murals painted on almost every wall. Sadly, we had no flashlight (if you are going to explore the castles and churches of Albania, a flashlight is a good idea) but still managed a few stunning photographs out of the dim light available only through the front door and cracks between the rocks that made up the walls. The church was not so easy to navigate, as there was scaffolding setup by whomever was working on the restoration.

Our exploration was cut a bit short by some locals who had marched up the hill to find the out of towners who had managed to block his car from leaving town.

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Aug
03
2006
0

Korca, Albania

Korca

The drive from Pogradec to Korca was pretty uneventful, or so I am deducing because I do not remember anything from it. Once in Korca, I was shocked at how bare the city looked baked in the sun. And then I remembered that Korca is a city whose center is off-center. It’s full of beautiful houses and monuments which are hidden in narrow alleys and semidetached neighborhoods. I have lots family in Korca, but I’ve never paid attention to where they live, or the nice parts of the city that they’ve shown me because I’ve always passively followed people to places and I’ve never actually led the way. We found the city looking upside-down, or inside-out to be more accurate, because the municipality was redoing all the pipes across town.

People were cordial when asked for directions, but they had that implied sense of self-importance, typical of Korcars, who assume everyone should know where certain things in their city are, that’s why they gave us directions that were based on us knowing where major buildings or institutions were. Oh well, it’s the Korca way.

- Kejda

Written by in: Korce | Tags: , |

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Aug
03
2006
0

Driving Tushemisht to Korca

Sites included lush vegetation, curvy yet well-paved roads. Most interesting was a farm animal market in the middle of the mountains. Buying and selling cows – pretty cool.

-Michael

I really enjoyed the ride for the most part, might have been more fun or more stressful if I were behind the wheel, I don’t know. The road curves and curls like crazy but the scenery is rewarding. If you see little kids selling pears or peeled hazelnuts on the side of the road, don’t get something you don’t need just because you feel bad for the kid: if you do, you will feel bad for the next ten kids you’ll pass by without buying anything from in the next couple of minutes, all trying to sell the same things. I suggest having the camera ready at all times, this is a beautiful strip of Albania.

-Kejda

Aug 3, 2006 – 2 Photos

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