Classical Tour of Albania
A typical Ottoman house belonging to a wealthy
Ethnographic Museum was shut for refurbishment, so we
visited nearby Skendule House instead. This is a typical
example of a C18th/19th Ottoman house and has been described
as a ‘rare and beautiful example of domestic
architecture’. It was lived in until taken over by the
state in 1881 when it housed the Ethnographic Museum. After
the Fall of Communism it was returned to the original
family, who are lovingly restoring the house and giving
Houses were designed to be defensive as well as comfortable homes. There were many violent feuds between neighbouring clans and threats of violence. The lower floors were designed for defence as well as being storage areas and to house livestock in the winter months. They had small windows set high in the walls. The upper floors were the main living areas and were segregated into men and women’s quarters. These were designed to reflect the wealth of the owners. Rooms were linked by wide corridors and covered balconies which could be used as additional living areas in the summer.
The house has only been open since 2015 and is a good example of a large two winged house with a central entrance to the ground floor and a flight of outside steps to the first floor rooms. It is too big to get in one shot. It has 64 windows, 44 doors, 9 fireplaces, 6 toilets and 4 hammams.
A flight of wooden stairway with a trap door at the top leads to a large landing area on the first floor.
Off this is the living room used by the women. The men used a separate room.
There is also a kitchen.
Stone steps lead up to the second floor landing which has an open gallery over looking the entrance. Doors lead off into the bedrooms. Each have their own fireplace.
Wall cupboards provide storage for bedding. This one in the guest bedroom has two doors so it can be accessed from the neighbouring room. There are latrine toilets off some of the bedrooms and also a hammam with stone floor.
The painted fireplace decorated with pomegranates, which were a fertility symbol. There are more pomegranates carved on the wood around the doorway.
Stairs lead up to the wooden balcony.
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