Kruja is a town and a municipality in north central Albania. Located between Mount Krujë and the Ishëm River, the city is only 20 km north from the capital of Albania, Tirana.In 1190 Krujë became the capital of the first Albanian state in the Middle Ages, the Principality of Arbër.In 1914. The museums of Krujë include the Skanderbeg Museum, located in the environs of the Krujë Castle, and the national ethnographic museum. The name of the city is related to the Albanian word kroi, krua, meaning “fountain”. During the Illyrian Wars the area of Krujë was captured by the Roman Republic.
Alley of the old market
From 1450 until 1477 Krujë was defended successfully by the Albanian troops four times against the Ottoman army, which eventually captured it in 1478 during the fourth Siege of the city. During the first siege of Krujë in 1450, the 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers of the League of Lezhë under Vrana Konti and Skanderbeg defeated an Ottoman force of about 100,000 men led by Sultan Murad II, who had tried to bribe Duke to surrender the castle of the town. In the following decade Krujë was first besieged in 1466 and then in 1467 unsuccessfully by Ballaban Pasha and Sultan Mehmed II, whose total troops were about 150,000. After Skanderbeg’s death in 1468, the city’s garrison was supplemented by troops of the Republic of Venice. In 1476 the town was once more besieged by a ten-thousand-man army under Gedik Ahmed Pasha; however, the local garrison led by proveditor Pietro Vetturi fended off the Ottoman besiegers, who retreated after the arrival of reinforcements under Francesco Contarini and Nikollë Dukagjini.
Krujë Castle is a major landmark located on the highest point of Kruje. Early medieval artifacts of Krujë include dress items and weaponry found in fifth- and sixth-century cemeteries, which display the high status and the wealth of the burials. Originally a middle-sized fortress like other urban centers, Krujë expanded to a town probably from the sixth to the ninth century AD. In 1190 Krujë became the capital of the first Albanian state of the Middle Ages, the Principality of Arbër. During the late 13th and early 14th century the Byzantine and the Thopia family and in 1343 the Serbian Empire took control of the city. During the Albanian Revolt of 1432-1436 the city was unsuccessfully besieged by Andrea Topia. On 28 November 1443 Skanderbeg gained control over Krujë by deceiving its subaşi with forged sultan’s letter, and raised the first Albanian flag on the same day.In 1444 Skanderbeg incorporated it in the League of Lezhë, the confederation of the Albanian principalities.
The old Bazar
Kruja Bazaar is famous for being one of the oldest in Albania. The construction of the beautiful and fascinating marketplace of Krujë dates back over 400 years, and was the starting point of free trade among the city’s most established merchants. It is in this particular bazaar that traders first began to officially exchange various kinds of goods with one another. Conveniently located on the main road leading to the Castle of Kruja, the space forms part of the museum while also serving its traditional commercial purpose. Whether you need a traditionally-crafted rug, or masterfully-made copper products from the renowned craftsmen who work here, you can find every object of interest you might need! Other items in the fascinating bazaar include genuine handcrafted items, and silver jewelers that is known to last a lifetime. The bazaar has steadily grown over the centuries,dictating the spread of housing and urban structures around it, making it the real epicenter of Kruja.
The Ethnographic Museum
The Ethnographic Museum of Kruja is located inside the castle of Kruja. This museum was erected in the house of the Toptan family, which is a “porch” type building from 1764. The apartment is a cultural monument of category I. In the indoor environments, as well as the objects presented in the outdoor environments, a complete picture is given of the crafts practiced in Kruja and throughout Albania, as well as of the way of life starting from 300 years ago. Full 90 percent of the objects of this museum are original and 100% are functional. In it we find objects made of ceramic, wood, stone, iron, cotton, silk, wool, various embroideries exposed with finesse. The age of these objects varies from 60-70 to 500 years old. The National Ethnographic Museum of Kruja was inaugurated on November 20, 1989.