Fterra: The Peculiar Village Watching Over The Albanian Riviera
Fterra is a peculiar and intriguing village situated in the interior of the southern Albanian Riviera. It stands at the foot of the Fterra mountain, some 200-250 meters (656-820 miles) above sea level. The location belongs to the Lower Kurvelesh region, some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) northeast of the coastal town of Borsh. As of 2015, the village is part of the littoral Himara municipality.
Within The Bizarre Town Of Fterra
The village of Fterra is composed of multiple tuff stone houses covered with stone-plated tiles. Such architecture represents a unique and long-preserved local tradition. Most buildings are two-story high and enclosed in their courtyards with high walls and arched gates. Various flowers, fruit trees, and fresh vegetables adorn their yards. Inside, hand-made carpets put together by the locals themselves commonly cover the floors.
All of Fonterra stands in a semi-mountainous green scenery dominated by oak and maple trees. The village combines the Mediterranean perspective with the typical patterns of continental Balkan heights. In this sense, different dimensions join this village, including an imaginative convergence between past and present.
The History Of Fterrë Village
The history of Fterra originates from the early Medieval times. The town appears for the first time in 1431 in the Suretu defter-i Sancak-i Arvanid (Defter of the Albanian Sanjak). At that time, it consisted of only twelve prosperous families. In 1583, it appeared again in the Ottoman Defter, named Ifteran. Based on this defter, the town had extended into 24 families which would, in later years, reach into 45 households. During this whole early Ottoman era, the village was part of the nahiye of Sopot. Then, in the 16th century, it became part of the kaza of Kurvelesh.
Local inhabitants still preserve the memory of a Jewish family that settled in Fterra during Ottoman rule. A couple of Jewish/Hebrew toponyms still used in the area confirm this narrative. This alleged family may have probably pertained to successors of those Jews expelled from Spain after 1478. It is well-known that multiple Jeshiw families settled in the Ottoman Empire after fleeing Spain. Indeed, this region was one of the three main spots of the Ottoman Empire where fleeing Jews settled.
In the years preceding the Albanian independence, villagers from Fterra were actively involved in anti-Ottoman revolts. In 1910, inhabitants from Fterra, led by Lazo Kofina, joined the national efforts against the Ottomans. The community continued supporting the national independence, finalized in 1912, through emancipation initiatives. In 1916, the first school in the Albanian language opened in Fterra.
A World In Itself
Apart from the village, the area around Fterra offers two main natural attractions: dozens of cold and pure water streams and multiple caves.
There are about 45 natural streams in and across Fterra, each carrying its unique name. Locals and tourists can use them to drink and refresh at all times. Travelers can also visit the well-known caves of Kazhani, Buçka, Guva, Gjoleka, and Zana. This string of caves offers hindsight into another space-time dimension.
* Fterra featured in our top 10 Albanian villages *