Kombinat & Enver Hoxha grave
More background info:
The name of this district on the outskirts of Tirana
, Kombinat, derives from the gigantic textile combine that was constructed here in the early 1950s with aid from the Soviet Union
. The plant was named “Stalin” and a statue of the Red Tsar
was erected in the square in front of the main gate. (After the fall of communism, this statue was removed and years later found its way into the backyard of the National Gallery
– but as I found that closed for refurbishment and the backyard emptied and inaccessible in April 2022, I have no idea about this statue’s current whereabouts.)
The enormous complex on the western edge of Tirana stretched over several blocks almost 3000 feet (850m) from one end to the other. There were many thousands of workers employed here. The plant had its own leisure facilities, nurseries and even a theatre within the compound.
After the end of the communist era, the site began to deteriorate in the turbulent and lawless 1990s, when much of the plant’s machinery was looted and sold for scrap. Today parts of the former combine buildings are destroyed or in a bad state of decay, while others are homes for smaller businesses and some 700 people are said to live in the ex-plant.
Just south of the former combine is a large public cemetery (“Varrezat e Sharrës”), apparently Tirana’s main one. It was here that the remains of former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha
were transferred to after they had been removed in April 1992 from the original grave at the Martyrs’ Cemetery
in the south of the city.
What there is to see:
As you get off the bus at the end of the line (see below
) you’re on the square in front of the main gate of the former textile combine of Kombinat
While the rest of the former plant is severely run down, the gatehouse facade is in relatively good condition and a fairly impressive piece of Stalinist-era architecture
, with its two towers flanking the large arch of the main entrance. You can spot some socialist-realist
bas-relief artwork above the arch celebrating workers of the textile combine and a communist star at the top. There’s another big five-point star on one of the towers, but that is an advert for a gym, so only a somewhat ironic reference to communism
You can see some other parts of the former combine in the distance from the main road, from which it is set back a block, but here and there you can spot the saw-tooth -like skylights of the former workshops. Further along there’s also a cooling tower and chimney, which, so I presume, once belonged to the combine’s own power station, now derelict.
When you’ve made your way to the cemetery to look for Enver Hoxha’s grave
– use the directions below
to track down the exact location.
It’s a modest grave within a sea of others, so it doesn’t stand out as such – although the Albanian double eagle symbol at the tomb’s head is somewhat special. The inscription on the grave is simple, just “Enver Hoxha
1908 – 1985”, that’s it. And the inscription was a little faded, with parts of the given name and the birth year barely legible, when I was there in April 2022.
On that visit I also found a bunch of artificial flowers attached to the Albanian eagle symbol that’s suspended between two small concrete pillars. And there were roses, both bright plastic ones as well as a single semi-decomposed real one, by the side of the grave. So it seems that some old admirers do still occasionally come out here to pay their respects.
Note that right next to Enver’s grave is the comparatively recent grave of his widow Nexhmije Hoxha, who outlived her husband by 35 years and died in 2020 at the grand old age of 99!
After spending a few moments at the Hoxhas’ graves, I thought, while I’m here, why not have a look around the rest of the cemetery
. It’s always interesting to get a feel for the sepulchral culture of a different country. And there were indeed a few quite remarkable tombstone designs and sculptures. Nothing on the grand scale as at Milan
or the famous Père Lachaise
cemetery in Paris
, but still. Occasionally there were intriguing designs and details to be discovered – see the photo gallery
below for some examples.
All in all
, this is a pilgrimage-like journey for only some dedicated dark tourists (or old-school communists, perhaps). It’s a long way for not very much, but if you have the time and inclination, why not include it during your stay in Tirana
. It’s certainly well off the mainstream tourist trails.
way out, some 3.5 miles (5.5 km) south-west of the city centre of Tirana
Google Maps locators:
Access and costs: far from the city centre, but reachable by bus and a walk; free
Details: To get to Kombinat you have to take a bus, namely the orange line (20) that departs in the city centre from the top of Rruga Kavajes just to the west of Skanderbeg Square. Board the bus and hand your fare to the on-board conductor to get your ticket. It’s 40 lek, but the conductor gives change if you pay with a 100 or 200 lek note. You have to go all the way to the terminus of the line, right by the square outside the former main gate of the textile combine.
To get to the grave of Enver Hoxha
from here, walk further along the road the bus took to get here (Rruga Llazi Miho), heading south-west, leaving the city behind you. After ca. 10 minutes a smaller road branches off to the left from the main road opposite a petrol station. This is Rruga Taxhedin Baholli. It goes slightly uphill and you will pass stonemasons and flower shops as you get closer to the cemetery entrance. Once through the gate take the path to the left and then turn right and proceed uphill. To your right is plot (parcela) No. 6. You pass a tomb in a “cage” and a tree directly by the path and behind that look out for the back of the Albanian double-eagle symbol suspended between two low concrete pillars. (If you pass another “caged” tomb, you’ve gone too far and have to turn back.) Enver Hoxha’s grave is the second one in from the path. Sometimes flowers suspended from the pillars may make the Albanian eagle tricky to see.
When you’ve walked back to the square by the Kombinat gate, note that the bus stop for the journey back to the city centre is not on the square but a bit further east along Rruga Llazi Miho.
Time required: only a few minutes each at the Kombinat gate and Enver Hoxha’s grave, plus ca. 30 minutes walking time and of course the bus ride. And while you’re at the cemetery with Hoxha’s grave why not have a look around the rest of the burial ground. In total, factor in 2-3 hours for the excursion, including the journey there and back.
Combinations with other dark destinations: nothing much in the vicinity, though fans of communist-era military hardware can find a silver fighter jet and a surface-to-air missile on display in the front yard of some military “support command” site further down Rruga Llazi Miho west of the cemetery.
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
nothing in the vicinity – see under Tirana
- Kombinat 01 - grand gate
- Kombinat 02 - cloth-making
- Kombinat 03 - star
- Kombinat 05 - colony of swallows
- Kombinat 05 - dilapidated part
- Kombinat 06 - chimney and cooling tower
- Kombinat 07 - cemetery
- Kombinat 08 - caged grave
- Kombinat 09 - getting near
- Kombinat 10 - relocated Enver Hoxha
- Kombinat 11 - and his widow
- Kombinat 12 - fresh plastic flowers
- Kombinat 13 - footballer grave
- Kombinat 14 - modern design
- Kombinat 15 - another bird no longer in hand
- Kombinat 16 - swan
- Kombinat 17 - jet bird
- Kombinat 18 - grim granny
- Kombinat 19 - defiant-looking youngster
- Kombinat 20 - model chapel