Founded in 1947 to serve the nearby coal mines and built in a loop of the Vjosa river, Memaliaj is a modern town that's waiting for better times - many residents emigrated abroad after the mines closed. For as long as it lasted, the town was a very pleasant place to live, with schools, a cinema, canteens, worker dorms and lovely parks and surroundings to offset the mine's pollution. A statue honouring the miners who died underground can be found on the main square - it replaces an older statue that was destroyed in the 1997 riots. The town centre is restored but quiet, with a few new tourism-related businesses taking advantage of the many visitors that pass through. The surrounding hills hold many delightful opportunities for rural adventures and relaxation.
This travel guide is one of five regional In Your Pocket guides produced in cooperation with the Albanian Ministry of Tourism and Environment (Ministria e Turizmit dhe Mjedisit, www.turizmi.gov.al). Copies of the guide are free and can be found at local municipalities, accommodations and tourist information centres, as well as at Tirana’s airport and embassies.
There are three guides for destinations in north Albania: Shkodra, Theth & Velipoja; Malësia e Madhe; and Puka, Vau i Dejës & Fushë-Arrëz. In southern Albania, two guides cover Gjirokastra and the Vjosa River Valley around Tepelene and Përmet. In Your Pocket also has a guide for Tirana.