Voskopoja is a village 20 kilometers from Korça, located between Gorës and Oparit.The village is surrounded by high hills fern-filled forests.The climate in Voskopoja is cool in the winter and cold and snowy in the winter, making it a perfect setting for natural ski pistes.Known for the curative properties of its clean air, this village is regarded by many as a pearl of the Albanian landscape. The history of Voskopoja began in the 14th century, though it was not until the 17th century that it gained fame throughout the region for its progress in culture and education. At its peak, Voskopoja boasted 24 churches rich with frescoes, of which 7 are still left intact.
Voskopoja has been known for centuries as a prosperous center of Albania and the Balkan region for economic, cultural and artistic development.Existing as a crossroad of trade between the east and the west, Voskopoja flourished as a crossroads.
The city center of Voskopoja was believed to be founded in 1330 by a community comprised primarily of ethnic Vlachswith a minority of Albanians.The Church of Saint Friday, built up on a hill (which was eventually rebuilt after falling into ruin), was the first building to be constructed, surrounded by the first houses.
The richness of the city was built by the hands of the countless church architects, iconostasis masters, and masters of icons and frescos including David Selenica, the Zografi brothers from Korça, and Konstandin Lermonaku. The masterworks of these artists have resisted time, war, and damage at human hands to remain as a testament to the splendor of old Voskopoja.
Voskopoja is also an important cite for the development of language, culture and byzantine art.Much of this owes to the fact that it was granted special status under the Ottoman Empire to build and develop a city.With this status, the construction of 24 Byzantine style churches and a monastery was made possible, as well as their painted frescoes, arches and domes that still amaze visitors.A further critical landmark for the city was the development of the “New Academy” school which educated and housed thousands of students.Just as important was the construction of the first printing press in the region, which brought to light the knowledge of philosophers and European scholars held in library, developing the language and further fostering development in the city to eventually include countless fine stone houses, an orphanage, bridges, and cobbled streets.
As an important cultural center in the region, many languages were spoken in Voskopoja, including Aromanian, Albanian and Greek (the last being the dominate language of culture at the time).
Over the years, Voskopoja has created many local traditions and customs that continue to preserved.The foundation for this preservation has long been the 24 churches in the city, which elevated Voskopoja as an important liturgical education center, as well as an important city for the preservation and spread of the Albanian language, as well as the preservation of cultural and historical heritage and customs.
Voskopoja is known for its tradition of handicrafts created out of natural materials and based on the work by generations of artisans from the city.In particular, woodwork, handspun woolen clothing, and other crafts are prized in the region.
With the historical presence of the library, Academy, cobblestone streets, famous painters including David Selenica, Kavalioti, Grigori and others, the rich traditions of its people and its countless craftsmen, Voskopoja became and remains a critical cultural center for Albania and the region.
The summer season in Voskopoja always attracts many tourists, who are drawn to the prospect of walks in the morning or evening, clean air to breathe, fresh water from the natural springs, and to camp or go on other excursions. Away from the noise, heat, dust and work stress of the city, Voskopoja is also a rich escape for culinary delights of the region.You can’t visit without trying the wood fired lakror, spit-roasted lamb, plum raki, creamy and pungent cheese crepes, local traditional pastas, sausages and other dishes.
- Churches and Cultural Heritage:Visit some of the 7 churches and Basilica in the post-Byzantine style to learn about the cultural heritage of Voskopoja up close.Nature:Nature lovers can explore countless trails, including routes from Voskopoja to Shipcke, Saint Constantine, Pasha Tepes Peak, Zhombri Reservoir, St. John’s and Vaine peak, and the radio antennae.
Village Walk:Enjoy the beautiful traditional stone work, architecture, church frescoes, cobblestone streets and old city wells adorned with carved stone.
Sports:Walking, hiking horseback riding and bicycle riding.
Traditional cooking: Many restaurants in Voskopoja offer local traditional organic food, with many live bands playing traditional Korça serenades on weekend evenings.
Camping:When the weather is warm and the night sky is filled with stars, camping with friends and family is a wonderful option.Most of the areas surrounding the city are appropriate for camping, including with tents or in a camper.Many foreign tourists who visit Voskopoja spent one or two nights in this way, enjoying the beautiful panorama sweeping in front of them.