Albania has one of the lowest per capita incomes in Europe, & struggles to develop a sustainable economy to raise the standard of living. Its greatest resource is cultural heritage highlighted by two World Heritage sites that draw tourists from around the world. Gjirokastra's Ottoman-era tower houses are vital to the continuing growth of heritage tourism. Only by supporting the use of traditional building skills & training young residents in these trades will the buildings stand & economy grow.
In the early 1990s, Albania emerged from nearly a half-century of Communist rule in severe poverty and with few resources available to initiate economic development. One potential resource, the remarkable architectural heritage of its World Heritage Sites, is on the brink of collapse. As one of the poorest countries in Europe, Albania recognizes that restoration of these sites is essential to help build the economy through heritage tourism, but assistance is needed from the internat'l community.
We will conduct community education through hands-on workshops that train young Albanians in preservation skills. The focus is on skills necessary to repair and restore the stone tower houses, which are the heart of Gjirokastra's World Heritage Site. Skills include working with plaster, wood, slate, and decorative painting - the materials of Albania's traditional architecture. Re-introducing young skilled craftspeople to the community will help spur efforts toward economic development.
This project provides preservation skills training that will support sustainable economic development through heritage tourism. We will educate Albanians on the importance of historic preservation as well as provide the necessary training. This initiative ties together the production and selling of traditional materials with the restoration of historic buildings through a trained work force. Preservation is key to rebuilding the economy and raising the standard of living for many Albanians.