Pogradec (Alb. Pogradeci) is a city and commune in central Albania. Pogradec is located in the Korca district. The modern name of the city is of Slavic origin: Po (under, along) and Gradec (city). The city was known as Istarova (Tur. İstarova) or Istar (Tur. İstarye) during the Ottoman Empire.
The Resurrection Church is the main Orthodox church in Pogradets, built in the neo-Byzantine style.
There are two mosques in Pogradec. One of them is located in the very center of the city, the other in the Gorice region.
The citadel was located on a hilltop in the western part of Pogradec. The fortification existed here since the 5th century, but reached particular power by the 15th century. Now it is in ruins, archaeological excavations are underway.
Lake Ohrid with its beaches is of particular tourist interest. Places
of interest in the area include:
Tushemisht, seaside resort east of the city, once a popular travel destination for King Zogus I and the former dictator Enver Hoxha
Drilon, a small park with springs near the village of Tushemisht with a Chinese bridge that was built by the Chinese during the period of socialism.
Lin, a small, pretty village about 20 kilometers north on Lake Ohrid.
Selca, Illyrian graves from the 4th century BC approx. 40 kilometers northwest of Pogradec.
Golik Bridge, a bridge over the Shkumbin River built by the Ottomans in the 17th century.
Guri Kamjes (Stone of Kamja), a free-standing rock, visible from afar, in the mountains southwest of the city, which was formed by the wind and erosion.
The earliest traces of man on the territory of Pogradec date back
to the early Neolithic, in 8600 BC, when a small settlement was
formed on the shore of the lake in the eastern part of the modern
South Slavs began to arrive in this area from the 6th century AD. By the beginning of the 7th century, it was inhabited by a Slavic tribe known as the Verzites. From the 8th to the 14th century, the territory of Pogradets was conquered by various medieval states such as the First Bulgarian Kingdom, the Byzantine Empire and the Serbo-Greek Kingdom, as well as by noble Albanian families such as Gropa and Balsa. In the middle of the 15th century, the area became part of the Skanderbeg state, and after his death in 1468 it was captured by the Ottoman Empire, who held it until Albania gained independence in 1912. During the occupation of the Ottoman Empire, Pogradec was the center of Starov's kazy and was a small town of artisans and fishermen. When the Ottoman traveler Evliya elebi visited the area in 1662, he wrote: "Pogradec was a lovely city with red roofs, four blocks, four mosques, two elementary schools, six hundred houses and one hundred and fifty shops."
In the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, Pogradec played an important role in the Albanian national revival.
During World War I, Pogradec became a battlefield divided between enemy fronts. From 1914 to 1920, the Austro-Hungarian, Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian and French armies captured the city, replacing each other from time to time.
Pogradec is located on the southwest corner of Lake Ohrid, narrowed
between two ranges of hills. In the southeast of the city opens a small
plain, which is separated from the great south-east Banian lowlands of
Korça by hills. The North Macedonian border at Sveti Naum is only six
kilometers away. However, the border crossing at Qafë Thana, around 26
kilometers to the north, is the most important of the two countries.
In Pogradec there is a transitional climate between Mediterranean and continental. The winters are usually cold and rainy, the summers are hot and dry.
In 2015, Pogradec was merged with the other municipalities of the former Pogradec district and now includes the entire shore of Lake Ohrid on the Albanian side, a lot of mountainous land and the direct suburbs. The new municipality has 61,530 inhabitants (as of 2011).
The climate of Lake Ohrid is classified as a locally continental type due to the microclimate that is created in this area under the influence of the Mediterranean climate. The average annual rainfall in the lake basin is about 730 mm.
The population of Pogradec in 2011 was about 36,000 inhabitants, about half were Albanians — Christians, the other half — Albanians — Muslims. Macedonians also live in the city.
The city is connected by a trunk road with Ohrid (North Macedonia),
Elbasan and Korça (further to Kapshtica on the border with Greece). The
section of road north of the city, along Lake Ohrid, is currently being
expanded; it will take some time before the completely desolate roadway
is widened and prepared.
A railway line was built up to the Gur i kuq mine in communist times, which runs from Elbasan through the Shkumbintal to Pogradec. The Albanian railway HSH no longer operates the route; rail traffic is at a standstill and, given the condition of the track, it cannot be foreseen when trains will run here again. From Gur i kuq (German Red Stone) a few kilometers outside, urban buses run to the city center.
Pogradec was a center of mining and the food industry during
communism. The region is known for its variety of fruits and vegetables,
which are grown in a 400 meter wide strip along the lake shore between
Lin and Tushemisht on 1,500 hectares of irrigated land. Raki and wine
are produced for the local market.
There are a few furniture factories, smaller metalworking factories, and a textile factory in the city. In the ruins of the iron nickel ore processing plant Gur i kuq, which was closed in 1994, three kilometers north of the city, a company for the production of iron molded parts has been set up. There is again little mining activity in the mines of the region.
The extensive chestnut forests (Castanea sativa), which cover an area of over 1000 hectares at an altitude of 800–1200 meters in the hills near the city, were once considered to be an important economic factor. Neglect and goat feeding led to shrub forms. After the trees were cut back to the cane in the early 1990s and 150 hectares were replanted, it has been possible to harvest chestnuts again for a few years now. Chestnut wood is used as parquet, generally for building houses and as firewood. There is still a lack of practical forest management to protect forests.
One disposal problem is the 30 to 35 tons of garbage that are produced in Pogradec every day. So far, they have been deposited in a valley near the village of Gurras on both sides of the road to the former coal mine of Alarup. Alternative locations, which are also viewed critically by ecologists, have been under discussion for years.
Advances have been made in wastewater treatment. A third of the wastewater from the city has so far been channeled to Drilon and there, untreated, into the lake. The remaining two thirds and the sewage from the surrounding villages were drained directly into streams or the ground. A sewer system, which was built with the support of the Reconstruction Loan Corporation and the Directorate for Development and Cooperation, has been in operation since 2007. A new sewage system will treat 60 percent of the area's wastewater.
Better water quality of Lake Ohrid in the vicinity of Pogradec is also beneficial for tourism. This has been an important branch of the economy since the collapse of socialism. Many Albanians escape the heat of the coastal area in summer and spend their holidays at the cooler lake, which is almost 700 m above sea level. Numerous private hotels have emerged in recent years. To this end, the administration is also trying to visually upgrade the city center: in 2007 a paved pedestrian zone with plant pots was almost completed; there is a United Nations-supported citizens' initiative that is creating green spaces. The waterfront is regularly cleaned of rubbish and the installation of waste bins in the green areas is planned.