Memorie.al publishes an unknown article in the French magazine “L’EUROPE CENTRALE” published in Paris in 1934, where the author, Professor Léon Rey, who for ten years led the French archeological mission in Albania, has masterfully described its impressions and impressions from the land of eagles, as well as the stunning beauties with its tourist resources. His advice on Albania at press conferences he gave to Parisian students.
Léon Rey: My Travels in Albania in the ’30s
Old cultural monuments, ancient and medieval forts, old towns discovered by archeological excavations, mosques, monasteries and churches decorated by famous painters, stunning coastal beauties along its entire length, high mountains with forests virgin and snow-capped Alps in all four seasons, flowing rivers with clear water and its picturesque lakes, have made Albania a place visited by many foreign tourists, since the first years of last century. And also aroused great interest for many scholars, scientists, historians, explorers, etc., from different European countries. One of them was the Frenchman Léon Rey, a professor at one of the most famous universities in Paris, who in the 1930s, for ten years in a row, led a French archeological mission in Albania. All his impressions and impressions from Albania, which he wrote in some articles of French newspapers or special books, the famous French professor, who was immensely in love with the country of eagles, conveyed to his Parisian students. What were Professor Léon Rey’s impressions of Albania and the Albanians, in what cities and provinces of our country did he travel for explorations in the early 1930s and how did he present his impressions to his French compatriots? Regarding this, there is an article by him, published in the French magazine “L’EUROPE CENTRALE”, as well as some articles by the Albanian journalist, Fiqri Llagami, who accompanied Professor Léon Rey during the press conferences he gave in Paris. From these very interesting articles, we have selected some of them and are publishing them in the following article.
Léon Rey and the “Turing Club” of France with a project for Albania
An Albanian automobile club has been established in Tirana, a useful initiative owed to Mr. Rexhep Jella, prefect of that city. This prominent official told me recently that the new club aimed to develop tourism in Albania, to attract foreign travelers and to improve the conditions of their travel and accommodation. Some time ago, the author of these lines had presented to the Ministry of Internal Affairs a project of the Turing Club, which under a slightly different formula is completely national, you are answering, Yes, to this goal. For reasons I do not know my suggestion, there was no sequel then. I am happy to see an interest in this issue and wish it to bring good results. Everyone knows that the arrival of tourists has a moral and economic interest. Really this place needs to be better known. There is no better propaganda to make a place needed by foreigners, other than giving all the facilities to walk. This is the main point of the Albanian Government. It is more than right that Albania has picturesque and artistic places that look strange and that the hospitality of Albanians deserves the reputation it has. If we take the geographical map in hand and remove a line from west to east, going from Durrës to Tirana and joining it with the Drini, we will find that all the places between this line and the Yugoslav border are separate. only from a road that starts from the North of Lake Shkodra, ends in Durrës and Tirana. This large artery is the only one that connects the north of Albania with the Capital, and does not leave the liturgical field from Shkodra to Vlona, separating the mountains from the sea. None of the rivers like Kiri, Drini, Mati, which flow between the mountains, do not form enough fields to make a road, the construction of which would cost much more expensive works of art and undoubtedly disproportionate to its strategic interest. economic. (It is only behind a road that separates the west, east and north of Albania. This road, the works of which for several years going from the north of the Drin to Puka, seems to connect Shkodra with Kukes. Note by Prof. Léon Rey)
Lack of roads, obstacle for tourism
The lack of roads makes tourism very difficult in the Alps (both in Malësia e Madhe and in Shkrel and Kelmend), located north of the Drin, as well as the places of Mirdita located south of this river. For a long time now these places, where old and stranger customs are kept not only of Albania, but of the Balkan cynicism, cannot be visited except by brave travelers, enjoying only small walks in places located above street. (Most of those who have gone to these places have published travel events and constitute a fairly large tourist literature. In terms of housing and customs of northern Albanians the most important work, unfortunately very expensive, 170 fr, is that of Baron Nopcha: Albanien, Bauten, Trachten und Gerate Nordalbanien, Berlin ef Leipzig de Gruyter, 1925. (Note by Léon Rey) Middle and southern Albania are fortunately separated by a number of connecting roads the cities of Durrës, Tirana, Elbasan, Korça, Berat, Gjirokastra and put on the one hand Albania in traffic with Yugoslavia (Ohrid and Bitola) and on the other hand with Greece (Florina and Ioannina). The natural beauties that are found are numerous, especially in the areas near Lake Ohrid and Prespa and by the incomparable sea of Himara.Albania always attracts attention from the diversity of the country eve and from the very special sights of each city, where there is no fear of boredom. We must add here that King Zog, despite his desire to put Albania in the ranks of modern nations, still did not want to take those radical measures, which under the domination of Kemal Pashaj have changed the appearance of Turkey, so that Westernism has slightly changed the physiognomy of some cities such as Tirana and Durres, while in every other country, the people and especially in the villages have preserved their measures, their traditions and the way the old people dressed. From this it follows that the picturesque factor which plays the best role in attracting foreign visitors, has retained all its value; No less interesting from the tourist point of view is the large number of monuments owed to various civilizations, which have come to Albania since ancient times.
Senator Justin Godard brought archaeologists to Apollonia
One day Mr. Justin Godard, whose name is very popular in Albania, goes to Durrës, where they showed him a clay object that they had recently found. “This is a miracle,” cried the Lyon senator, “I will send you an archeological mission.” He kept his word and for ten years, after many hardships, today we are seeing the admirable monuments of old Apollonia come out of the ground. Except for an isolated column and some walls covered with wild grass, not a sign will be found; today a large portico 77 meters long, a town hall, the very rich facade of which is almost completely exposed, an odeon with a very beautiful sanctuary, pose admiration to visitors. In the South, just off the Greek border, an Italian mission gives light to Butrintos. And what about the churches of Berat and Moschopol, churches that are still little known and that unfortunately some of them are being destroyed. That is not enough. In Albania there are a large number of monuments of the XVII century and the beginning of the XVIII century. I want to say about some residences of beys and the mosques of Tirana, Elbasan and Peqin. The interior architecture and wall decorations belong to a neo-oriental art, or rather completely Albanian, where the elements from Constantinople and Italy come together in the most beautiful way. Among these monuments, which the French archeological mission was studying, was the Karapic mosque, which was unfortunately destroyed in 1930 due to the new city plan, prepared by an Italian architect.
Archaeological wealth of Albania
There is much to be said for Albania’s artistic wealth. The key is to save these things from ruin and then devalue this wealth. (I like to say in this case the initiative of the mayor of Durrës who has created a place where all the old things are collected, such as sculptures and inscriptions that have been found for many years. The Albanian government, on the other hand, to preserve the adorable mural of this city.Note by prof. Léon Rey). Numerous antiquities found by the French archeological mission, have been placed one on one, in a small room of the Municipality of Fier, and could very well fill a good museum. The old things that have been found by the research of the Italian mission, can be found in part in the insufficient museum of Tirana, but to admire the head of the goddess Butrinto, which is one of the best things found by this mission, we must at the Therm Museum in Rome. I note that many things of artistic value are taken from the churches by unscrupulous people. The new Albanian club together with the Ministry of Education, has a wide field of action, first of all the issue of tourism, which is not only, how can the improvement of hotels, roads, transport be trusted; saying these words, I believe I do my duty to a country I love.
Rey: Albania, an unexplored country
After ten years at the helm of the French archeological mission in Albania, the famous French professor, also known as a great and sincere friend of the country of eagles, returned to his homeland, France, where at a very briefly gave many conferences on Albania. In some of those conferences that were attended with great interest by many students of French universities, there was also the Albanian journalist, Fiqri Llagami, who in a correspondence from Paris given to the newspaper “Besa”, Tirana (dt. 12 February 1934), among other things, stated: “The impression of entering the conference is great. The guests chose and understood from the mouth of a French professor what was needed. After the entrance, the cinematographic apparatus silences the geographical harat of Albania. Oj Shqipni. Albanian students and workers utter a sigh and I am sure that the emotion I felt in my heart was also felt by the friends who were there in that hall. One has to stay outside for a while to be heartbroken for that small place called Albania. The French professor finds in Albania that mysterious taste which makes him attractive and beloved and he believes that “the tourist future of Albania comes partly from the privileged situation. I say in part, why the country of Albanians contains in itself many picturesque and artistic beauties to become the first source of a trip. “This is what makes me happy to be told and to tell you.” Your orator marked with his long stick, starts from Shkodra, to which he presents the many beauties and panoramas. The cinematographic film and the mouth of the orator, present and describe one by one the lake, the Buna, the Castle where history has recorded many famous events of the bravery of the Albanians against the attacks of the enemies. A picture of a highland girl, dressed in national clothes attracts everyone’s admiration for her divine beauty. Ah! the Albanian girl, whom some duo neglected and that Parliament was recently forced to approve a motion against those who, for “fashion”, despise Albanian women. But the Albanian girl is rare to be found, either for her beauty, or for her virtues and character. Professor Rey, after describing the situation of Krua (the city of Kruja), always accompanied by photographs, also presents the photograph of the legendary hero, Skanderbeg, whose triumph has crossed the borders of the homeland. “I do not know a more honorable hero”, the orator continues. His photograph is found everywhere and in every place; it is hung both on the wall of the rich, as well as on that of the poor, it is found everywhere near the no less popular and beloved photograph of the new King who today directs the fate of this Nation”.
We are now in front of the picture of Durrës, charming, for which the orator has praiseworthy words. Represents the antiquities of Durrës, castles, etc.; on the other hand, it shows its beautiful panoramas, the new constructions which day by day are being added and are beautifying this ancient city. A photograph of old Durrës, the orator has found in the National Library of Paris. Durrës has been studied by the French archaeologist in all phases of its history, full of interesting events that make us think of the past. For the present, the orator explains the countless constructions, which give the city great charm. We miss to remember once that aromatic Tirana, the center of tireless activity for the transformation and modernization of the homeland. Yes, the eminent French professor today, presents us not that modern Tirana, which we admire, but the old Tirana, that Tirana when the 30 days of Ramadan go out to the Bazaar armed with knives and cannons. I remember when a couple of months ago, one of the personalities of England, Sir Edward Boyle, visited Tirana after 9 years and, in the statement, he made to the press, he said that he did not know anything but the mosque near the Clock. This statement to the residents of the Capital is probably excessive. But Sir Boyle has only told the truth. Tirana of 9 years with today cannot be known at all. The crooked streets, the taftabene shops, the water lines in the middle of the bazaar, the cemeteries of all the mosques, etc., are now for antiquity. But there is no need to prolong: Mr. Léon Rey before entering into a conversation about Tirana, said: I swear to you and I assure you that, from this Tirana that you have parsyve, now you cannot find it anymore; on the contrary, today this city, which is the capital of the Kingdom, has the face of a completely modern city”. In terms of antiquity, the orator has the opportunity to appreciate and show the Albanian style of mosques, especially Haxhi Etëhem Bey and the Old Mosque and I cannot stay without showing his regret for the collapse of the Karapic mosque.
Rey: Albania is becoming a modern state
During the conferences that prof. Léon Rey gave in different cities of France regarding his ten years of work at the head of an archaeological mission in Albania, he used the opportunity, occasionally making some expositions of economic development and progress that our country was experiencing at that time. In one of these expositions, among other things, he said: “For ten years, a lot of work has been done in this place where everything had to be done. It would have been very interesting to show the next stages in which under the leadership of the new King who leads the fate of the Nation, Albania, the old nation, but a new state, has come to the rank of a very modern state. It would be interesting to show you the progress in the economic, industrial, commercial field. He would also have been very courageous after how the nationalist ideal of the Albanians has faced and will still face the obstacles in its path. “But tonight, is not the program of our conference.” Regarding the speech of prof. Léon Rey, in his article in the newspaper “Besa”, journalist Fiqri Llagami, among other things, states: “A new and excellent document for us Albanians. A distinguished professor like Mr. Rey cannot be beaten without expressing his opinion on the progressive evolution of today’s Albania, exactly in a conference, the object of which is only scientific. Shqipnija, under the leadership of Her Price, will continue the progressive path without considering any sacrifices and without being afraid of the enemies who, for obvious reasons, like to present Shqipni not as it really is. Mr. Léon Rey, with his generosity, is one of those who want to tell the truth openly right in the middle of the University hall. And this opinion of his finds trust and credit that it is known who he is “.
Léon Rey, press conference in Paris for Albania
Léon Rey, the head of the French archeological mission, who worked for almost ten years in Albania, in search of treasures and cultural heritage that hid the underground of our country, did not leave his work for the benefit of Albania. After returning to France, he organized several press conferences, where in addition to detailed coverage of the work he and his mission perform in Albania, Rey also propagated the tourist resources of our country. Regarding these conferences, there is also an article by the well-known journalist, Fiqri Llagami, published in the newspaper “Besa” of Tirana in February 1934. In that article, which is a correspondence from Paris, it is written, among other things: ” On the 5th of February, the first conference organized by the Students’ Association is held here, with the title: In Albania, by Mr. Professor Léon Rey, Head of the French Archaeological Mission in Albania “. In order for the conference to be a complete success, the great hall of the University of Paris was built for a considerable sum of money. Also, to give the conference the importance it deserves, it will be done with cinematographic projection and was placed under the patronage of the honor of Mr. Justin Godard, Senator of France, and our Minister in Paris, Ekrem Libohova. Despite the lack of funds, the organization of the conference is quite good and hopes for its complete success. Such conferences on Albanian will be organized from time to time. It is necessary and a duty that is sacred for every Albanian that, in order to propagate our country, we do not ask for any effort and sacrifice. To show an example, Mr. Menon, director of the big agency, Havas, said to me one day: “I have visited Shqipni, and now I owe it; “Everyone who visits your country leaves with very good memories and loves you more and more.” It has been more than a month since the director of Havas said the same words to me. They are very valuable and serve us to work tirelessly. We must propagate our country as much as possible; when a person visits him, not only is he surprised that he does not find him as those who do not love us have shown, but he also becomes a supporter and admirer of our country “. / Memorie.al