The Pyramid of Tirana: Then and Now

The Pyramid of Tirana: Then and Now


The pyramids in Egypt were built over 2,500 years ago. They’ve been looted and plundered but they are still standing tall.

The Pyramid of Tirana opened to the public in 1988. It was quite a sight back then but, since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Pyramid of Tirana has gone to rack and ruin.

The pyramids in Egypt continue to evoke awe in all who see them and are often said to have magical healing powers.

Anyone standing in from of the Pyramid of Tirana can be forgiven if they start shaking their heads and muttering, “Physician, heal thyself.”

So why was the Tirana Pyramid built in the first place and what went wrong?


A Monument to a Politician

Strangely enough, despite its distinctive shape, the “Pyramid of Tirana” is not the building’s original name. It was created to pay homage to Albania’s 22nd Prime Minister, Enver Halil Hoxha.

Enver Hoxha was an important man in Communist Albania. After his death in 1985, the plan for a monument was discussed. The present Pyramid of Tirana is the end result.

A number of people were involved in the design including Hoxha’s daughter, Pranvera, and her husband.

At the time it was built, the Pyramid was alleged to be the most expensive individual structure ever to be built on Albanian soil.

Sometimes called the Enver Hoxha Mausoleum, the building was opened on October 14, 1988, as the Enver Hoxha Museum.

In those early days, the Pyramid of Tirana was coated in white marble cladding. This is no longer the case. The marble is gone, and the walls of the pyramid are covered in graffiti instead.


A Museum No More

The fall of communism in Albania brought about many changes. In December 1990, there was a student revolt in Tirana. This was when the Enver Hoxha Museum became known as the Pyramid of Tirana. This was partly due to its shape, but also due to the fact that it was seen as a symbol of dictatorship.

On February 20, 1991, a huge crowd of pro-democracy demonstrators toppled the giant bronze statue of Enver Hoxha that used to stand in the centre of the city. Communism was dead. It was a case of out with the old and in with the new.

From 1991 onwards, the Pyramid was a museum no more. It was used as a conference centre for a while. Then, during the 1999 Kosovo War, it became a base for NATO and humanitarian organizations.

Later, the building was home to a media company and the area around it became a parking area.

What’s next for the Pyramid of Tirana? That’s the big question.

The Former Enver Hoxha Museum in Tirana, Albania (AKA the Tirana Pyramid)


An Uncertain Future

There has been a lot of talk about demolishing the Tirana Pyramid. So far that’s all it is—talk.

At one point the site was scheduled to be home to a new opera theatre. That’s when the marble cladding was removed and put into storage. Things never got any further than that. The project was cancelled shortly after work began.

In 2018, the Dutch company MVRDV announced it had been engaged by the Albanian-American Development Foundation and had plans to revitalize the Tirana Pyramid and aimed to “give the building back to the public”.

MVRDV has completed some very creative projects, not just in the Netherlands, but all over the world.

The company has an impressive portfolio that includes the Flight Forum business park in Eindhoven, the Mirador housing complex in Madrid, and the Gyre shopping centre in Tokyo. However, MVRDV appears to still be waiting for Albanian authorities to give the green light.

When I visited the Tirana Pyramid in April 2019, it was still a sorry site and the grounds were surrounded by metal security fencing.

The fences served little purpose, people had removed some of the clips and entered the grounds anyway. Although there was a security guard on the premises, he didn’t seem to mind having some extra company.

A lot of websites still state the Pyramid in Tirana is a site visitors should see. Unfortunately, those who visit it now will not be seeing it at its best.

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