Shkodra is one of the oldest and most glorious urban centers in the Western Balkans, as well as the main city of northern Albania: its has more than 203,000 inhabitants and is today an important commercial and industrial center.
A city of great charm and deep cultural roots, so much to be considered the cradle of Albanian culture, Shkodra has seen a particularly tumultuous and troubled history, due to its highly strategic value and its position in the border between areas of different political and religious influence.
Passed several times under Roman, Slavic, Venetian and Ottoman domination, the city preserves traces of Islamic and Catholic architecture, Italian and Turkish.
Founded in the fourth century B.C., Shkodra was the capital of the Illyrian kingdom until 168 B.C., when was taken over by the Roman Empire. Under the Romans, it was at first center of the vassal republic of the Labeat and then, with Diocletian it became the capital of the Prevalis; after the division of the Roman empire, Shkodra was part of Byzantine Empire.
Given to the Serbs by Heraclius, in the 7th century, then moved on to the Bulgarians, Byzantines and Venetians,until the king of Serbia, Stephen Dushan, extended his power there in 1330; after the death of Dusan, it was ceded to the Turks by Balsha II in 1389. Returned under the dominion of Venice in 1396, it was abandoned to the Turks in 1479, and Shkodra became the capital of the province.
After the proclamation of independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912 it was briefly occupied by the Serbian-Montenegrin troupe and then by the Austro-Hungarians in 1913. In the Second World War it was first occupied by Italy and then by the Germans. After the war, the fiercest communist dictatorship in Europe was installed in Albania and would last until 1991. It was in Shkodra that the movements for the overthrow of the dictatorship began. Currently Shkodra is the most important economic, administrative and cultural center of the region.