Iconic monuments generally define cities. Paris and the Eiffel Tower, Berlin and the Brandenburg Gate and New York and the Empire State Building, are all shining examples.

But what about Tirana, the capital of Albania? In the sixties, the most iconic building in the city was the Palace of Culture (Pallati I Kulturës), where the opera, the ballet and the National Library are located. Completed in 1963, it is a typical post war, Eastern European construction building. By the end of the 1980s, the Pyramid – dedicated to Albania’s former communist dictator Enver Hoxha – had taken the crown. The memorial and museum, which was inaugurated three years after his death in 1988, was closed in 1991 and has since fallen out of favour. It is now a dilapidated structure in the heart of the capital.

Turning Tirana into a trendy, contemporary capital

Over the past decades, the city of Tirana has been undergoing a transformation in a bid to make the capital a regional, urban hub and a city of both cultural and economic importance for the Balkans. This, of course, includes a new, contemporary building which, it is hoped, will become known as the city’s newes, most iconic, landmark.

Danish architecture office CEBRA won an international competition to design a new landmark for the city The future structure – Mount Tirana – will be located in the heart of the city, next to the Palace of Culture.

The Aarhus-based architectural company CEBRA is well known for its striking designs and sustainable structures. At 185 metres high, the winning proposal, Mount Tirana, will be the tallest building in Albania. The distinctive tower will take its inspiration from the beauty of Albania and the mountains that surround Tirana.

“Mountains are one of nature’s most impressive features,” said Mikkel Frost, Founding Partner and Architect at CEBRA. “Everlasting, awe-inspiring and beautiful, they are the original landmarks. By using the mountains of Albania as our main source of inspiration, we tap into the local history, the cultural heritage and the identity of Albania.”

Mount Tirana will be constructed using locally sourced materials to minimise the building’s carbon footprint. Terraces covered by greenery including trees will give the impression of a mountain slope to the building. It will also help reducing the need for mechanical cooling and aid the urban biodiversity.

Detail of the future tower (Image: CEBRA)

“This symbolic landmark will create an elegant connection between the ever-transforming urban fabric of Tirana and the natural surroundings – an architectural hybrid between a tower and a mountain and an international typology, which is locally anchored,” added Frost.

Popularity of Albania on the rise due to its image as affordable destination

Mount Tirana will comprise housing, commercial facilities, a boutique hotel, a business area, offices and parking facilities as well as restaurants and cafés. The further development of Mount Tirana begins immediately.

The spectacular tower is likely to raise awareness of Albania which, until recently, did not go under the spotlight of many tourists. This year, Albania gained more popularity among travellers due to its unspoilt beaches and due to the fact that the country remains a great bargain with its cheap prices to most travellers. The country has become a hit on TikTok, for being a great budget travel destination.

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