House in a garden with concrete path
Albania,  Dark tourism,  Postcards from the road

A postcard from Tirana: Enver Hoxha’s former residence

House in a garden with concrete path

Enver Hoxha’s former residence

In Tirana’s now trendy Blloku district one house stands empty and isolated, largely ignored by the bright young things who come here to eat and drink in the many bars and restaurants.

This is the one-time home of Albania’s dictator, Enver Hoxha. He lived here for many decades until he was assassinated in 1985. During his lifetime, the entire area around the home was known as the leadership block and was off limits to ordinary citizens. Hence the current name, Blloku: the Block.

Apparently the inside of the house remains as it was when he lived there. The internal doors are clad in soundproof cushioning, there is a pool in the basement and an escape door leading to an underground bunker.

The house is preserved but not open to the public. Opinions are divided as to whether it should be opened as a museum or pulled down. It seems the world over people are unsure what to do with the monuments of a now abhorrent past. Is it best to preserve them as reminders of acts we hope never to see repeated? Or destroy them lest we risk celebrating those acts in some way?


  • wetanddustyroads

    I’ve never heard of Enver Hoxha … but doesn’t sound like he was a very popular man. That’s an interesting question you ask about whether the house should stay or not – I suppose the answer could be yes/no, just depends who you ask, right?

  • equinoxio21

    A difficult choice… Trotsky’s house in Mexico (where he was assassinated) has been preserved as a museum, run by his descendants… I’ve been there several times. Many historical pictures. Worth maintaining though Trotsky was no angel.

  • grandmisadventures

    That’s a tough debate over places like this. I can see where it would feel wonderfully vindictive to tear it down and smash it all to pieces. But at the same time, how do you teach the younger generation about this difficult part of history without it. Then there’s the cost of maintaining such a place and is preserving it worth the time and money it would take.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      That’s a good point about cost. At the moment it’s a white elephant and must be costing a lot to keep in good condition. At least if they opened it as a museum they could make some money out of it, but not as much as selling off the plot for development!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I think we’re all much of a mind Maggie – both on the benefits of opening it as a museum AND the likelihood of still failing to learn from it, sadly.

  • Easymalc

    It should be preserved in my opinion Sarah, if only to make sure that future opinions are based on fact and not on what people want to believe. It doesn’t have to be a place of pilgrimage for those who glorify such people either if it’s handled correctly.

  • margaret21

    Like other commenters, I think we have to hang on to the past, good and bad. It would be good if we attempted to learn from what’s gone before, but no … we just keep on repeating ourselves.

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Was that outside Tirana? I understand the rest of the country is very different to the capital. Here there are at least three museums covering that period, including the excellent House of Leaves in the former Secret Police HQ.

          • margaret21

            We were in Korçë , quite far from Tirana, and in rural areas. Yes, I’m sure it’s different. Just as our recent French travels had nothing of the vibe of the troubles in Paris.

          • Sarah Wilkie

            Yes, it’s often surprising how different a capital city can be in comparison to far flung rural parts of a country. If you’ve only seen London you haven’t seen England; if you’ve only seen Washington DC you haven’t seen the US and so on …


    It’s fascinating seeing the difference in this part of Tirana, how evolution has brought such irony. What was once the very proof of the lies behind Hoxha’s brand of communism (extreme wealth for the few whilst preaching equality for all), now the very centre of freedom and a statement on modern lifestyles. In those circumstance maybe leaving the house just as it is – a reminder of the past but ignored by the present – is the perfect way to deal with it.

  • leyle193b6231e09

    Makes me think of Stalin’s museum in Georgia. I walked through his train carriage – if those walls could talk – and looked at the house he was born in, but the actual museum was a step too far.

  • Pat

    I find I am withdrawing from so much of our recent horrible past because any reminder makes me angry and anger takes so much energy when it doesn’t seem to lead to constructive action. Thanks for this good writing, Sarah. It resonated with me.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I do understand what you mean Pat. It would be so much better if we could get collectively and constructively angry, to prevent or at least reduce recurrences.

      • Pat

        I agree. There seems to be some indications that that is happening at the ballot boxes – at least in the U.S. I haven’t kept track of other places.

  • Marie

    There probably isn’t a public authority on the planet that doesn’t have to deal with controversial monuments at one time or other. A house such as this is possibly easier to deal with than say a statue – this could be opened to the public as a museum, giving the authorities an opportunity to educate the public. I wouldn’t like to be dealing with such issues….

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Very true Marie. Tirana has several museums devoted to the horrors of the Hohxa regime, but to open this as a museum about the man himself would add another dimension to the story. However I am sure there are many Albanians who would rather forget about him altogether

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