Shëngjergji or the “backyard” of Tirana

Published at : 27/06/2018 - 11:03

To have a different weekend, take a trip to Shëngjergj of Tirana!
In a unique landscape you’ll find only on those lands, as you are looking for Shëngjergji (Saint George), Shënmëri (Saint Mary) and Shëngjin (Saint John); on this triangle embroidered in history and with the names of Christianits saints. But today, with the minarets raised in their centers, speak about a new religious reality, reflecting in this way a “silent accord” between past and present.
The hills covered in trees and below them always a twisting river, dressed in a light that lurks even in the early days of December, when winter has started to strip everything. Of course, it wouldn’t have been so perfect if the road had no white contours in every inch of it, or the banisters to avoid any expected risk while climbing little by little the Highland of Shëngjergj. To catch a glimpse of the sky ... And then, to go slowly down to the “sanctity” found in the names of the villages of this area ...
Shëngjergji is located in the east of Tirana about 40 km away. It has a mountainous relief where the lowest quote is the Erzen River bed and the highest quota is “Mali me Gropa” (Pit Mountain) of 1200 meter high.
We recommend you to visit this area that has wonderful views of its hilly and mountainous terrain. Shëngjergji’s area is rich in numerous springs and lakes. It is believed that in the XII-XIV centuries it was called “Tomadhe” or “Tame Dea” - a goddess of water resources. After the year 1600, it was named “Shëngjergji”. There are many churches in the territory of Shëngjergji. The villages Shëngjergji, Shënmëri, Shëngjin, are old inhabited settlements, and there are many other small villages inhabited today, close to each other and have the names of many of Saints.
Shëngjergji Waterfall is another natural asset of Tirana Region. The waterfall is located near Shëngjin village, located in Shëngjergj Administrative Unit. Up to the waterfall, you can drive by car and the road is very good. This waterfall until six years ago, was “hidden” among the mountains and apart from the inhabitants of the area, no one knew its existence. Today it has become a genuine tourist destination with orientation signs.
The waterfall springs from “Mali me Gropa” and forms one of the branches of the Erzeni River. It has a height of about 30 meters and winds through spiral hinges at higher altitudes and less visible to the visitor’s eye. The rock formation around it is layered and colorful, where red is dominant. In spring and autumn it has a stunning beauty, with a rich variety of colors.
A little history
Shëngjergji previously held the name “Tomadha Province”.
Mentioned by Albanian and foreign linguists and scholars, whom prominent linguist Eqerem Çabej mentions as “old-time” Albanian, while Prof. Dhimiter Shuteriqi mentions it as a settlement that means “The Earth of Toma”. Specifically, he links this name to a great-grandfather of Vladan Araniti, who was named Toma, but it may be the land of Dea or Tama. “Its earth land has a stunning beauty of the three saints: Shëngjergji (Saint George), Shënmëri (Saint Mary) and Shëngjin (Saint John) the three villages of this province. “While Dhimiter Pilika and the history of the Italian Biemi, says that with Tamadhe we must understand “The Greats” and the real name should be “The Great Plains”. Other authors give an opinion of it as an ancient Illyrian settlement in the III-IV century (Prof. Kristo Frasheri). Later it was named the Province of Shengjergj.
By the end of the 19th century, boys from this were educated in the Ottoman Empire on general knowledge and theology. Such were Mustafa Shtepani, Rakip Disha, Hafiz Beqir Shaba, Hoxhe Jonuz Toqi, Ferik Altafa, etc. who have supported the patriotism and propagated for the Albanian school in Shëngjergj. Later on, fro mthis village they were also patriots like Ali Shtepani, Osman Distafa, Islam Keta, Muharrem Lorja, Ismail Rrëqeku, Abdi Ceni, Gani Hala, Shaban Balla, Begtash Cani and many others. Efforts for education in Shëngjergj existed before 1911. Inspired by the ideals of the “League of Prizren”, the branch of Elbasan, through their representatives, were connected with the province of Shëngjergji for the dissemination of education in Albanian language, according to a letter from Kristoforidhi, in 1871, Shëngjergji welcomed “Abetare” (Albanian ABC book) with great love.
Teaching Albanian language in Shëngjergj of Tirana started before the declaration of Albania’s independence in 1912. This fact is reinforced by many testimonies that shed light on the time when the Albanian language teaching began. History begins with a teachers coming of Elbasan, who in 1910 left that city due to an incident. Through intermediaries, he goes to the house of Xhafer Shtëpari in Shëngjergj, where he begins to teach young people and the elderly the ABC. Those who learned with this teacher have left their memories for this period which could to be called the beginning of the Albanian language learning in the Tirana Region. While the first Albanian (illegal) school started in late 1911 with the arrival in Shëngjergj of teacher Ramiz Hatibi. At the time of the fascist occupation, it was a fact that at the Shëngjergji School never were placed the portraits of Victor Emmanuel or Mussolini. Later on the school would become a supporter of the anti fascist liberation movement. In 1942, Shëngjergji’s party consisting of 20 people decided to build 3 new schools with village’s money, spending for each school 600-700 gold napoleons. Immediately after the country’s liberation, the school would make great efforts to eradicate illiteracy in the village by raising courses where priority was given to young people.
Being from Shëngjergji is a privilege from the very first moment of the presentation. “You are smart” – is the first impact of someone when learn that you are from Shëngjergji”. While the inhabitants proudly state that this finding is related to the first Albanian school (where it is taught in Albanian, both in written and spoken) in Tirana Region which is opened precisely in Shëngjergj of Tirana.
Must sees: Shëngjin Waterfall, Ruins of Shëngjin Castle, St. George’s Castle, the Cave of Val, the Sacred Place and the Old Tomb as well as Mali me Gropa.