Gjergj Kastrioti (1405-68), known as Skanderbeg in English and Skënderbej in Albanian, is the only historical figure whom all Albanians agree was a national hero. He managed to create an independent Albanian princedom and keep it free for 25 long years. After his death, Albania was occupied by the Ottomans, but Skanderbeg's legacy preserved the Albanian national identity throughout 500 years of Ottoman rule. Albanians consider him not only the father of their nation, but also the man who saved all Europe from the Ottoman Empire. The statue was unveiled in 1968, exactly 500 years after Skanderbeg's death. Considering the era in which it was made, it's surprising how little concession the sculptor made to official socialist-realist style.