The natural features and climate of this area have encouraged the development of a rich flora that alternates woods with green meadows, creating a spectacular landscape especially attractive for those visiting the region.
The area is also rich in medicinal plants, high mountains plants such as gentian, arnica, sage, as well as blueberries and strawberries. Its typical products, such as tasty cheese and potatoes, are renowned throughout the country.
Within the villages, modern facilities alternate with typical houses of wood and stone, evidence of a past still alive despite the many changes that have occurred over the centuries. A section” of the past that allows travellers to immerse themselves in the colours of nature and the warm hospitality of the people.
History and Culture
Kelmend and Shkrel have an ancient origin: the archaeological findings in different territories of the area and in caves of Selcë and Vukël in Kelmend, and those found in villages Dedaj, Zagora and Bzheta in Shkrel , show that both areas have been inhabited, respectively, during the Neolithic and Early Bronze.
There are different opinions regarding the origin of the name Kelmend: from Latin Clemens-tis which means wise, simple, good, or the name of Pope Clement (90-101 years), Third Deputy of St. Peter.
Shkrel tribe, and people of Shkrel say they have come as nomadic cattle breeders from the upper areas of Balkan, which means , they come from the territories of today’s Bosnia and the Sanxhaku region of Novi Pazar, where used to live Illyrian tribe of the Dalmatians. With the arrival of Slavs in these regions, about XII century ( e.s.), indigenous population was forced to move to other Illyrian lands.
Kelmend and Shkrel residents speak geg dialect. The term “geg” shows in general dialects of north Albania, together with Southern dialects (Tosk) Albanian language give the overview form. Natural boundary that separates the broad lines of these dialects is Shkumbini River that runs through Elbasan, central Albania. Both dialects have phonetic and lexical changes, but speakers understand each other without difficulty.
Geg dialect is not homogeneous and each area has changed and enriched the vocabulary with terms typical of the country pursuing various historical influences (Latin, Serbian, Turkish, etc..).
Despite that Albanian is one of the oldest languages of the Balkan, Illyrian origin, it is documented in writing rather late in the fifteenth century. The first book printed in Albanian is “Missal” Gjon Buzuku (1555), written in Geg.
Tradition and folklor
On Shkrel and Kelmend villages still survive today customary codes, Kanun, which besides State law, govern the daily life of families. Thanks to these codes, many traditions and customs of the area are maintained, and represent one of the most appealing aspects of these communities.
Villages, mainly livestock, show a close relationship with the mountain: the phenomenon of displacement with herds from the field to mountains is an essential part of the area’s economy and social rates of families.
Hospitality is one of the main values of the Albanians and the hospitality they show to the tourists is extremely warm and impressive. The arrival of a friend in these countries, still today, is a sacred occasion: Kanun, “the house of an Albanian belongs to God and guest.”
Weddings, funerals, births and religious festivals continue to experience widely in these days in the villages, with a large participation by the entire community. Such events are accompanied by characteristic music and singing, dishes with local products, traditional clothing and dance.
Songs and dances associated with more traditional acoustic instruments, worked in a craft, small and light tools which suits the shepherd: two-string lute, lute and flute.
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