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The 1992 elections in Albania ended 47 years of communist rule. The shaking off of the restrictive weight of the communist regime is expressed in the attitudes of freedom and fun found in the Albanian people, and the untamed colour schemes of the newly redecorated buildings here are a visual demonstration of this energetic rebirth. The oppression that stifled life here for years has been discarded and a "new lease on life" attitude is evident in this city. Tirana itself is an enticing mix of stern Soviet Bloc cement buildings, Ottoman minarets and 1930's Italian architecture, which juxtapose the wild colour schemes of newer buildings that have been redecorated by local artists. The religious buildings in Tirana are a wonderful mix of Christian and Muslim shrines, which speaks to its varied heritage and multi-cultural present. There is also a pulsing nightlife scene and Tirana is famous for its all night café culture.
Old Communist Regime relics have become popular tourist attractions and are a severe reminder of the recent past. Street signs are still up and coming as tourism develops here. If you ask a local for directions they are given in terms of landmarks. The addresses listed in this guide are often street names only – building numbers do not exist universally here.
Tirana has a number of versatile dining options. European cuisine, especially the Italian, has gained great influence because of Italy's relationship with Albania. There are many traditional Albanian food outlets to choose from, too.
Visiting cafés is one of the most popular pastime of many locals and all throughout the day and well into the evening people are sipping expresso and chatting with friends. The neighbourhood Blloku is currently the hub of café culture in Tirana and here you will see people often sit for hours drinking and gossiping. After a long day of sightseeing, grab a cup of coffee and relax with the locals at one of the many cosy cafés the city has on offer.
Have a drink at one of the bars in Tirana. As with the cafés and clubs, bars are open very late. There is wide variety of choices for nightlife in Tirana – from bars and clubs to live music and ballet. It is popular to put the word "Disko" in the title of a nightlife establishment, the "Disko" settings indicate DJ music and dancing.
As Albania recovers economically from the disputes of the 1990's, its shopping areas are growing. Tourism is expanding in Tirana, and upscale shops have started to spring up in order to compete with other chic tourist destination. Local ceramics, crafts, jewellery and food items continue to offer an experience of the native cultural flair.
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