If you are visiting Tirana, the capital of Albania, you must also visit the Cape of Rodoni especially during the summer. Why? Because the Cape of Rodoni is only one and a half hours drive by car north from Tirana. You can also easily travel north from Durres to the Cape of Rodoni. Not only is it an historical location but it has some of the most beautiful beaches in Albania that you and your family will enjoy.
My family and I visited the Cape of Rodoni for the first time last summer. We were so impressed by the beautiful scenery on our way from Lalzi Bay through the villages to the Cape of Rodoni. From the top of the mountains you can see down to the Adriatic Sea with its almost deserted beaches, a few fishermen sailing their boats, here and there some cows, sheep and goats, so authentic and natural. One thinks that time has stopped at some point of history on an undefined piece of Earth.
There are two famous beaches there, Rera e Bardhe beach and also the beach near the so called Skenderbeg’s church administered by the Franciscan Order. Both of the beaches are really beautiful. The kids love to swim at the Rera e Bardhe beach, and you can also enjoy a very delicious lunch at the small improvised restaurant of Gezim who welcomes you with a hearty smile, so typical of Albanian hospitality.
Probably you have already heard of the Albanian national hero Gjergj Kastrioti, also known as Skenderbeg. He resisted the Ottomans for many years in the 15th century. After his death, Albania succumbed to Ottoman domination. The Albanian nationalism is based on his existence. St. Anthony’s church, also called by the villagers as Skanderbeg’s Church, can be found on the Cape of Rodoni.
The residents of the villages nearby say that Skenderbeg got married in this church with his wife Donika. The church became a cultural monument in 1963 and serves as a shrine of pilgrimage every year on the eve of St. Anthony’s celebration. Those who believe in the miraculous intercession of St. Anthony may attend the prayers on the eve of June 12th.
The Cape of Rodon also boasts the Rodon Castle built by Skanderbeg, destroyed by the Ottomans to then be rebuilt by the Republic of Venice. Only sparse remnants of the structure with melancholy remain to this day trying to resist the eternal and unstoppable sea waves.
A small entrance fee is to be paid. At the beach you can enjoy the very authentic food of a small restaurant and as a souvenir you can buy their homemade liquor made by the peasants who were taught the craft by an Italian catholic priest of the parish.
The Cape of Rodoni has not been a very frequent destination until this day. It seems to have become such recently. It is our favourite family destination. It is not far from Tirana and when travelling there, we feel as though we are making a great escape to rebel against the capital in an attempt to find true Albania, in search of lost time.