I didn't know until I visited Rubik, a small village in northern Albania that one of my favourite puzzles was not named after this village, but after Urno Rubik, a sculpture from Hungary, its creator
Rubik has a population of just under 5000. Only 1000 live in the village, the rest in the surrounding farmland. The most significant building is probably the Franciscan Monastry. Roman mythology tells us that the ancient goddess, Rubik was the protector of crops from diseases. Every April they celebrate her day with sacrifices of goats and sheep and red wine. Very few Churches survived the Turkish Army invasion, but this one did. Then in the 1960's under the Communist leadership of Enver Hoxho it nearly didn't survive again. He forbade any kind of religious following in Albania and destroyed many relics, archives and libraries. The Franciscans were banished and the only organisation people could belong to was the Party of Labour.
Following the fall of communism in Albania and the rise of a Democratic state, national cultural monuments are beginning to experience restoration and protection. The locals however are finding it difficult to adapt to democracy and reluctant to take responsibility now for their welfare, health and education etc This may be one reason why they is so much rubbish lying around uncollected. Others are recognising that tourism may be a way forward for them.
Because Albania is not part of the European Union they are seldom the recipient of funds from the EU. They rely of international church groups and other benefactors for financial support. One of these is an Austrian woman, Mariana.
Once again, forgive but DON'T FORGET
Very near to Rubik is the rocky valley of Spaç is incredibly remote, a natural prison. During the 1960s, Albania’s Communist authorities realized this; they built a prison there on the model of the Stalinist gulag—harsh natural conditions combined with forced labor in a mine. Part of their not so colourful history. Many of the prisoners were intellectuals and political prisoners. In 1973 some of them brought about a general revolt, shouting Down with Communism they held control of the prison for two days before the leaders were executed and remainder forced to work and live in even harsher conditions.
In the early 1990s, the closure of the forced labor portion of the camp preceded the eventual shuttering of the prison itself, which was abandoned entirely by 1995. Since then, the site has suffered from destruction, looting and neglect. It was declared a second-category monument of culture by the national government in December 2007, but this has done little to curb the destruction—each year, more of the complex is reduced to rubble as people harvest the iron within its walls. In 2009, the National Restoration Council decided that Spaç should be restored and turned into a museum, though this project still awaits funding.
And then in 1998 and 1999 more fighting.
And along the coast. Something 70,000 bunkers were built, but not necessarily used.