Centre of Korçë
Korçë is located in Albania
Country Albania
County Korçë County
District Korçë District
Elevation 850 m (2,800 ft)
Population (2001)
 - Total 86,000 (2,008) Albania: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population] World Gazetteer.2009-12-01
Time zone Central European Time (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 7001-7004
Area code(s) 082
Car Plates KO
Website www.bashkiakorce.gov.al
Skënderbeu Korçë

Korçë (Albanian: Korçë or Korça, other names see below) is a city in southeastern Albania and the capital of the Korçë District. It has a population of around 86,000 people (2001 census)[1] , making it the seventh largest city in Albania. It stands on a plateau some 850 m (2,788.71 ft) above sea level, surrounded by the Morava Mountains.



Korçë is named differently in other languages: Aromanian: Curceaua or Cоrceaо; Bulgarian: Корча, Korcha or Горица, Goritsa (archaic form); Greek: Κορυτσά, Koritsá; Italian: Corizza; Macedonian: Горица, Gorica; Turkish: Görice.



Neolithic remains have been found indicating occupation of the site from 4000 BC onwards. The Copper Age lasted from 3000 BC to 2100 BC, and was followed by the Bronze Age.

The area of Korçë was on the border between Illyria and Epirus and was inhabited by Illyrians, but they were replaced by Chaonian tribes[2]. This occurred at 650 BC[3][4].

Middle Ages and Ottoman Rule

A town named 'Coviza' is mentioned in medieval documents in 1280. The modern town dates from the end of the 15th Century, when Iljaz Hoxha, under the command of Sultan Mehmet II, developed Korçë.[5] The Ottoman occupation began in 1440, and after Hoxha's role in the siege of Constantinople, in 1453; he was awarded the title, 'Iljaz Bey Mirahor'. Korçë was a sandjak of the Manastir vilayet in the Ottoman Empire as Görice.[6] The city started to flourish when the nearby town of Moscopole was raided by the Muslim Albanian troops of Ali Pasha at 1788.[7] [8]

Albania Independence

Ottoman rule over Korçë lasted until 1912; although the city and its surroundings were supposed to become part of the Principality of Bulgaria according to the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, the Treaty of Berlin of the same year returned the area to Ottoman rule.[9] Korçë's proximity to Greece, which claimed the entire Orthodox population as Greek, led to its being fiercely contested in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. Greek forces captured Korçë in 6 December 1912 and afterwards proceeded to imprison the Albanian nationalists of the town.[10] Its incorporation into Albania in 1913 was disputed by Greece, who claimed it as part of a region called 'Northern Epirus', and resulted in a rebellion by the Greek population that asked the intervention of the Greek army.[11] Under the terms of the Protocol of Corfu (May 1914), the city became part of the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus inside the borders of the principality of Albania,[12] while at 10 July 1914 the Greek Northern Epirote forces took over the city.[13]

At October 1914 the city came again under Greek administration. During the period of the National Schism (1916) a local revolt broke up and with military and local support Korçë came under the control of Eleftherios Venizelos' Movement of National Defence, overthrowing the royalist forces.[14] However, due to the development in the Macedonian Front of World War I the city came soon under French control (1916–1920). During this time the French Government established the Republic of Korçë to thwart Italian advances. It ultimately remained part of Albania, as determined by the International Boundary Commission, which affirmed the country's 1913 borders.

During the inter-war period, the city became a hotbed of Communist agitation. Albania's future dictator, Enver Hoxha, lived there and was both a pupil and a teacher at the town's French school. Korçë's underground Communist movement became the nucleus of Hoxha's Albanian Party of Labour. During the 1930s, the Bank of Athens had a branch in the city.

World War II Invasion

View of Korçë from the Heroes' Cemetery

Italian forces occupied Korçë in 1939, along with the rest of the country. After the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War, the Greek Army entered the city in November 1940, which remained under Greek sovereignty until the German attack in April 1941. After Italy's withdrawal from the war in 1943, the Germans occupied the town until October 24, 1944.

During the occupation, the city became a major center of Communist-inspired resistance to the Axis occupation of Albania. The establishment of the Albanian Party of Labour – the Communist Party – was formally proclaimed in Korçë in 1941. Albanian rule was restored in 1944 following the withdrawal of German forces.

Communist Albania era

The area suffered from Hoxha's dictatorial regime like the rest of Albania, although it is arguable whether it was to as great an extent. Hoxha mainly fought against the rich, despite the fact that they had often fought against the Nazi and Fascist occupations. Thousands of people from Korçë were sent to concentration camps or executed for disagreeing with Hoxha's regime. Hundreds of people fled to Boston, USA, joining a community of Albanians who had previously emigrated there.

After 1990 Korçë was one of the six cities where the New Democratic Party won all the constituencies. Popular revolts in February 1991 ended with the tearing down of Hoxha's statue.


Korca has an oceanic climate (Koppen Cfb)[15] with high temperature amplitudes. The hottest month is July while January is the coldest. The city receives around 700 millimetres (27.6 in) annual precipitation with summer maximum and winter minimum. The temperatures in Korca generally remain cooler than other parts of Albania in summer, due to the high altitude of the valley in which it is situated. However temperatures can still reach up to 39 °C (102 °F) on occasions.



Christian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George in Korçë

Korçë has been an important religious center for Orthodox Christians for centuries. It has a large Orthodox community and it is the seat of an Orthodox metropolitan bishop. There is also a large Sunni community in and around the city. Islam entered the city in the 15th century through Iljaz Hoxha, a famous Albanian jannissary, who actively participated in the Fall of Constantinople.[5] One of the oldest mosques was built in Albania by Iljaz Hoxha in 1494, the Ilias Mirahori Mosque.[16] Also a Bektashi community is present in the city. The main center of the Bektashis of the area is the Turan Tekke.


Korçë is called the city of museums. The National Museum of Medieval Art of Albania, has a rich archives of ca. 6500 icons and 500 other objects in textile, stone and metal. The National Museum of Archeology is located in Korçë. The first Albanian School as well as the house of the painter Vangjush Mio and his gallery function as museums. Another museum in Korçë is the Bratko Museum and the Oriental Museum.


Students in front of the first Albanian school of Korçë in 1899
The building of the first Albanian school in modern Albania

The first school, a Greek language school, in the city was established in 1724.[17]

In the 19th century various local benefactors such as Ioannis Pangas donated money for the promotion of Greek education and culture in Korçë.[18][19] The city also hosted a Romanian school at that time.

In the end of 19th century local Albanians expressed a growing need to be educated in their native language[20]. The first Albanian language school was established in 1887 by the Drita (English: Light) organization and funded by notable local individuals. Its first director was Pandeli Sotiri.[21] Naim Frashëri, the national poet of Albania played a great role in the opening of the school in 1887. As a high-ranking statesman in the ministry of education of the Ottoman empire ha managed to get official permission for the school. The Ottoman authorities gave permission only for Christian children to be educated in Albanian, but the Albanians didn't follow this restriction and allowed also Muslim children to attend. As a result the school was closed in 1902 by the Ottoman authorities.[22]

The school was followed by Albania's first school for girls in 1891. The school, started by Gjerasim Qiriazi was later run by his sisters, Sevasti and Parashqevi Qiriazi. Later collaborators were the Rev. & Mrs. Grigor Çilka and Rev & Mrs. Phineas Kennedy of the Congregational Misson Board of Boston.

When the city was under French administration in 1916 (the Republic of Korce), Greek schools were closed and 200 Albanian and French language schools were opened. A few months later Greek schools were reopened as a reward and result of Greece's adhesion to the Entente alliance part of which was France, although the decision to reopen them was in contradiction with the wishes of the population.[23]

The city is home to Fan Noli University, founded in 1971, which offers several degrees in humanities, business, and sciences. The University includes an school in Agriculture, Teaching, Business, Nursing, and Tourism.

In April 2005 the first bilingual Greek-Albanian school opened in Korçë after 60 years of prohibition of Greek education in the city.[24]


During the 20th century, Korçë gained a substantial industrial capacity in addition to its historic role as a commercial and agricultural centre. The plateau on which the city stands is highly fertile and is one of Albania's main wheat-growing areas. Local industries include the manufacture of knitwear, rugs, textiles, flour-milling, brewing, and sugar-refining. Deposits of lignite coal are mined in the mountains nearby such as Mborje-Drenove. The city is home to the regionally famous Birra Korça.


Notable people from Korçë

In alphabetical order by last name:

  • Thoma Abrami, poet and activist of the Albanian National Awakening
  • Servet Tefik Agai famous soccer player, leading goalscorer of the fourth Championship of the Albanian Superliga.
  • Anastas Avramidhi-Lakçe (1821–1890) businessman and benefactor.
  • Pandeli Cale, rilindas and signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
  • Pavlina Evro, famous mid-distance runner, winner of the in the 1500 meter race at the "Grand Prix" International Athletic Meeting in Nice (France)
  • Eli Fara, famous singer.
  • Thanas Floqi, rilindas and signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
  • Llazar Fundo, member of the Albanian Communist Party during WWII.
  • Mihal Grameno, rilindas, freedom fighter along Çerçiz Topulli, journalist, and writer.
  • Spiro Ilo, signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
  • Panteleimon Kotokos (1890–1969), Greek Orthodox bishop of Gjirokastër (1937–1941).
  • Koçi Bey 17th century high-ranking Ottoman bureaucrat
  • Xhevat Korça, Albanian patriot, founder of the Institute of Albanian Studies.[25]
  • Ermal Kuqo, basketball player.
  • Savva Lika, javelin thrower.
  • Devis Mema, Albanian footballer, capped with Albania U-21
  • Jani Melka[26] Albania National Team volleyball player, also known in Greece, where he plays with Aris Thessaloniki, as Giannis Melkas[27][28]
  • Gjon Mili, fotographer
  • Vangjush Mio, painter.
  • Thimi Mitko, nationalist and folklorist.
  • Marius Ngjela, famous soccer player
  • Tefik Osmani, football soccer player, capped with the Albania
  • Dhimitër Orgocka famous actor and screenplayer, People's Artist of Albania
  • Ioannis Pangas (1814–1895), entrepreneur and benefactor.
  • Pilo Peristeri, former member of the Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania and former Minister in the Albanian Government
  • Leonidas Sabanis, weightlifter Olympic Games Silver Medal winner for Greece
  • Aristotel Samsuri famous soccer player, leading goalscorer of the second Championship of the Albanian Superliga.
  • Behar Shtylla, diplomat and Foreign Minister of Albania from 1953 to 1970
  • Konstantinos Skenderis, author and politician.
  • Stavro Skëndi, historian and linguist
  • Kristi Vangjeli football soccer player, capped with the Albania
  • Dhimitër Zografi, signatory of Albanian Declaration of Independence
  • Pandi Gëllçi, notable volleyball coach of Skenderbeu.[29]

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Korçë is twinned with:



  1. Albania: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population World Gazetteer.2009-12-01
  2. Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0631198075,page 47,"According to one reconstruction (Hammond) we have the evidence of an Illyrian dynasty being replaced by a Chaonian regime from Northern Epirus"
  3. The Cambridge ancient history: The expansion of the ..., Tome 3, Part 3,bt John Boardman,Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond,page 263,"In the plain of Korçë Illyrian rule ended c. 650 BC, when the burials of "
  4. The Cambridge ancient history,Tome 3,Part 3,by John Bagnell Bury,"In the plain of Korçë Illyrian rule ended c. 650 BC, when the burials of their chieftains in Tumulus I at Kuci Zi came to an end"
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Iljaz Bej Mirahori". http://www.bashkiakorce.gov.al/frontend/article.php?aid=140&cid=51. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  6. Masud, Muhammad (2006). Dispensing justice in Islam: Qadis and their judgements. BRILL. pp. 283. ISBN 9004140670. http://books.google.com/books?id=yvjcpJ_8E9oC&pg=PA283&dq=Görice. 
  7. Princeton University. Dept. of Near Eastern Studies. Princeton papers: interdisciplinary journal of Middle Eastern studies. Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002. ISSN 1084-5666, p. 100.
  8. Fleming Katherine Elizabeth. The Muslim Bonaparte: diplomacy and orientalism in Ali Pasha's Greece. Princeton University Press, 1999. ISBN 9780691001944, p. 36: "...destroyed by Muslim Albanian troops"
  9. "History of Albania, 1878-1912". World History at KMLA. http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/balkans/albania18781912.html. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  10. Pearson, Owen (2004). Albania and King Zog: independence, republic and monarchy 1908-1939. Albania in the twentieth century. 1. I. B. Tauris. pp. 35. ISBN 1845110137. 
  11. Roudometof, Victor (2002). Collective memory, national identity, and ethnic conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian question. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 155. ISBN 0275976483. http://books.google.com/books?id=Xoww453NVQMC&pg=PA155&dq=greek+army+korce&lr=&as_brr=3&hl=en&cd=9#v=onepage&q=greek%20army%20korce&f=false. 
  12. Valeria Heuberger, Arnold Suppan, Elisabeth Vyslonzil (1996) (in German). Brennpunkt Osteuropa: Minderheiten im Kreuzfeuer des Nationalismus. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag. p. 69. ISBN 9783486561821. http://books.google.com/books?id=edAu3dxEwwgC&hl. 
  13. The Ottoman Empire and Its Successors, 1801-1927. William Miller, 1966. ISBN 0714619744
  14. Kondis Basil. The Greeks of Northern Epirus and Greek-Albanian relations. Hestia, 1995, p. 32: ""a rebellion broke out in Korytsa... their loyalty to the National Defence movement."
  15. World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated. Meteorologische Zeitschrift, Vol. 15, No. 3, 259-263 (June 2006) © Gebrüder Borntraeger 2006. http://koeppen-geiger.vu-wien.ac.at/pdf/metz_15_3_0259_0263_kottek_wm.pdf. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  16. Petersen, Andrew (1994). Dictionary of Islamic architecture. Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 0415060842. http://books.google.com/books?id=t5gOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA10&dq=City+of+Stone+gjirokaster&hl=en&ei=GmgVTOTLGML78AazjrGdDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=book-thumbnail&resnum=2&ved=0CDIQ6wEwAQ#v=onepage&q=City%20of%20Stone%20gjirokaster&f=false. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  17. Basil Kondis. Albania's Captives. Hestia, 1995, p. 9: ""The first school of the Hellenic type in Korytsa opened in 1724"
  18. Basil Kondis. The Greeks of Northern Epirus and Greek-Albanian relations. Hestia, 1995, p. 9 "With the money bequeathed by An. Avramidis two schools of the Hellenic type, a girls' school, and three primary schools were founded"]
  19. Ismyrliadou, Adela; Karathanasis, Athanasios (1999). "Koritsa: Education-Benefactors-Economy 1850-1908". Balkan studies: biannual publication of the Institute for Balkan Studies 1 (40): 224–228. http://books.google.com/books?id=6VVpAAAAMAAJ&q=Lasso%2Bkoritsa&dq=Lasso%2Bkoritsa&hl=el&cd=1. "Among them benefactors Ioanis Bangas (1814-1895) and Anastasios Avramidis Liaktsis have a definite place...", "General Rules for Public Institutions in the town of Koritsa were drawn up and changed for the better the functioning of the educational estamblishments.". 
  20. The question of the education of the Albanians in their own language was a problem posed many times in the reports of American religious missionaries in the Balkans. In June 1896 Reverend Lewis Bond reported that lessons at the Korça (Korcë) school were conducted in modern Greek, while the local people loved their own tongue which they spoke only at their homes. "Can we do anything for them", asked Reverend Bond. His question obviously remained rhetorical, because three years later he sent another, much more extensive, statement on the issues of the language and education of the Albanians in Korça. He wrote that only at the girls' school, set up by the Protestant community, the training was in Albanian and once more claimed there was no American who would not sympathise with the Albanians and their desire to use their own language Source : Antonina Zhelyazkova Albanian identities . International center for minority study and intercultural relations. Sofia .BULGARIA 1999
  21. Clayer, Natalie (2007) (in French). Aux origines du nationalisme albanais: la naissance d'une nation majoritairement musulmane en Europe. KARTHALA Editions. pp. 301–10. ISBN 2845868162. http://books.google.com/books?id=umotBF3KFWgC&pg=PA309&dq=Avramidhi&ei=OQTcS9GDKZOozATUnoXvCA&hl=en&cd=1#v=onepage&q=Avramidhi&f=false. 
  22. Özdalga, Elisabeth (2005). SOAS/Routledge Curzon studies on the Middle East. 3. Routledge. pp. 264–5. ISBN 0415341647. http://books.google.com/books?id=sRtTyyGIgXsC&pg=PA264&dq=korce+albanians&lr=&as_brr=3&hl=en&cd=11#v=onepage&q=korce%20albanians&f=false. 
  23. Stickney, Edith Pierpont (1924). Southern Albania, 1912-1923. pp. 69–70. http://books.google.com/books?id=n4ymAAAAIAAJ&q=Northern+Epirus#v=onepage&q=%22several%20months%20later%2C%20Greek%20schools%20were%20reopened%20as%20a%20result%20of%20Greek%20influence%22&f=false. "several months later, Greek schools were reopened as a result of Greek influence" 
  24. "Albanische Hefte. Parlamentswahlen 2005 in Albanien" (in German). Deutsch-Albanischen Freundschaftsgesellschaft e.V.. 2005. pp. 32. http://www.albanien-dafg.de/downloads/AH-3-2005.pdf. 
  25. NDRECA, Ardian. "Xhevat Korça: shembull i qëndrimit moral për intelektualët shqiptarë" (in Albanian). http://www.lajmishqip.com/?p=895. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  26. "Storia della Pallavolo Albanese(English: History of the Albanian Volleyball)". Albanianews. http://www.albanianews.it/sport/item/1184-storia-pallavolo-albanese-1. 
  27. Sport.gr
  28. Ethnos.net
  29. Dizdari, Besnik. "Volejbolli i vajzave, “Marin Barleti” dhe çdinamovitizimi". Gazeta Tema. http://www.gazetatema.net/index.php?gjuha=0&id=4618. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  30. "Twinning Cities". City of Thessaloniki. http://www.thessalonikicity.gr/English/twinning-cities.htm. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 Korce Municipality. "Twin cities" (in Albanian). Korce Municipality. http://www.bashkiakorce.gov.al/frontend/articles.php?cid=64. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 

See also

External links