Hotel Rozafa, Teuta Street 4000, Shkodër, has been welcoming guests to Albania since 1971 with staff that can speak (in addition to Albanian, of course) English, Italian, and French. The centrally located four-star hotel has 77 rooms and suites plus three meeting rooms that accommodate events from 10 to 200 people.
The spacious guest rooms are decorated to invoke the timeless aura of an elegant residence with a subdued palette highlighting the rich brown of the wood furniture: shades of cream, beige, and mahogany are accented with touches of gold. The views from the tall windows look over the city in northwest Albania, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Balkans.
Guest rooms are elegant
Original artwork decorates the walls of the guestrooms. In mine, a seating alcove spotlights a painting of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (1405-1468), Albania’s most recognized national hero.
Guest rooms have mini-bars, flat-screen televisions, free WiFi, desks, and armoires (instead of closets). My room had a small balcony, but opening the doors admitted the cacophony of a busy city.
My bathroom was wrapped in dark brown marble and boasted a humongous bathtub that included a shower (but no shower curtain). There were two sinks in addition to a toilet and bidet. Amenities, by Nirvana, were shampoo, bath gel, and lotion. A hairdryer was located next to the sinks.
Above the town are the ruins of a castle first constructed in the Bronze Age and added to over the centuries. It’s the legend of this castle that gives the hotel its name. Rozafa is the woman said to be buried in its foundations.
According to the legend, once upon a time three brothers from the Mrnjavčević family were given the task of building a castle. By day they worked hard to build up the fortification but each night, when they left, the walls would fall down. They didn’t know why.
One day, they encountered a wise man who advised them to sacrifice someone so that the walls would stand. The three brothers found it difficult to decide whom to sacrifice.
Finally, they decided it would be one of their wives: whichever one brought them lunch the next day. They promised not to tell their wives of this. The two older brothers broke their promises, explaining the situation to their wives that night, while the honest youngest brother said nothing.
The next afternoon at lunchtime, Rozafa, the wife of the youngest brother, appeared. He told her that she was to be ritually killed, then entombed in the wall of the castle so that they could finish building it.
The “official” moral of the story? All labor and every major task require some kind of sacrifice. Notably, however, the men tasked with building the castle were not immured. Misogyny in full bloom, they offered one of their wives. Then the two oldest broke their oaths of silence to be sure it was the wife of the “honest” brother, who did not. Rozafa is depicted as acquiescing but with conditions as she had a newborn son:
When you wall me
Leave my right eye exposed
Leave my right hand exposed
Leave my right foot exposed
For the sake of my newborn son
So that when he starts crying
Let me see him with one eye
Let me caress him with one hand
Let me feed him with one breast
Let me rock his cradle with one foot
May the castle breast be walled
May the castle rise strong
May my son be happy.
Booking a room at Hotel Rozafa
Rates start at about $50 per night, including a buffet breakfast. You can make a reservation on the Hotel Rozafa website or via one of the usual hotel booking sites like Booking.com or Hotels.com.
If your Albanian itinerary includes the capital city of Tirana, you might want to check this review of the Privilege Hotel & Spa
(Story and photos by Susan McKee)