On October 7, 2020 TV host Blendi Fevziu of TV Klan showed a documentary on Shkodra, featuring among other things, the Kulla Markagjoni (my family home). While I appreciate the exposure of this famous property, some clarifications need to be made regarding his reporting (around minute 29:18).

He stated that the family refused to allow them inside the property and he didn’t know what the reason for the refusal was, but that it is a tradition in the city of Shkodra to have your door ‘open’ for guests.

First of all, I was never contacted by him or his staff. If by chance someone tried to call me they should know that I don’t answer unknown numbers and the best way to contact me is through an SMS, FB message or email, detailing their request. Second, our door is always open to the occasional visitor, who has contacted me prior to their arrival, family and friends. I am not in the habit of letting just anyone onto the property for obvious reasons.

If a TV host wants to do a show regarding my house they need to contact me personally and request an appointment, inquire as to my availability and schedule a time and date for the visit. I do not allow anyone onto the property without prior vetting, unless I know who they are. Furthermore, the information provided on the program regarding the house was not quite correct.

This house was built during the time of Bib Dode Pasha (1820-1868), where he used to host his tribe members while in Shkodra. Subsequently, after his death, the house belonged to his son, Preng Bib Dode (1860-1919). It was Preng Bib Dode who commissioned renowned architect Kole Idromeno (1860-1939) to design and build the Tower, also known as the Kulla. The Kulla was a later addition to the house, that had been built about 100 years earlier. The tower was added around 1910. Therefore, the house was not built by Preng Bib Dode as stated on the documentary.

After the death of Preng Bib Dode the house was purchased by my grandfather, Gjon Markagjoni, from his widow, and has since been known as the Kulla Markagjoni.

My grandfather lived in the house along with his family during the winter months and spent the summer months at their Sarajat (Villa) in Orosh, until 1944 when the communists took power. After the takeover of communism in November 1944, my grandfather and father, Ndue, were forced to flee Albania and went into exile in Italy. My uncles Mark and Sander continued the fight against the communists and were ultimately killed in 1946 and 1947, respectively.

The Kulla was confiscated by the communists and the Sarajat in Orosh was burned to the ground. My uncle Ded was arrested. He spent the next 47 years both imprisoned and in internment camps. My aunts Marta and Bardha, my uncle Nikoll, my cousins Gjon, Kristina and Celestina, along with my grandmother Mrika, great grandmother Dava, and Mark’s wife, Marta, were all arrested and spent the next 47 years in jail/internment camps. My grandmother, great-grandmother and Mark’s wife all perished in the camps. My uncle Nikoll escaped the camp in Turan in 1949 and ultimately reached his father and brother in Italy. The rest of the family remained in the camps until the fall of communism in 1991.

The Kulla, under the communists, was turned into their headquarters. They destroyed all furnishings and valuables in the house and stole all other personal possessions left behind. During the regime the house became their private offices and ultimately a school for girls. Before the fall of communism and prior to the squatters having to leave the house they destroyed it as best they could.

In 1991, after the fall of communism and when the family was finally freed they returned to their now ruined home in Shkoder. During the next 12 years they put all their might and love into restoring the house to a somewhat livable condition.

After the death of my cousin Gjon in 2003 the house remained inhabited by my uncle Dede and aunts Marta and Bardha. Kristina and Celestina had married and were living outside the home. In 2006 we lost our aunt Marta, leaving Dede and Bardha the elders living in the house.

In 2012 we decided to retire to Albania and moved here from the USA. Unfortunately, after four months, in 2013, my aunt Bardha died, followed by my uncle Dede in 2015. 

Since then we have put all our effort into trying to restore and maintain this property as best we could and are still working on it. It’s a never ending task as the property is quite big, roughly 3000m² or 32,291sqft. This is private property and is inhabited by myself, grand-daughter of Gjon Markagjoni and my husband. Kristina, my cousin, lives on the property in a separate house. All other legal heirs, grandchildren of Gjon Markagjoni, reside in the USA.

 Bianca Gjomarkaj

Posted on October 9, 2020, in Welcome. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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