Take a moment to reflect on the pristine, geometric beauty of this roadside Albanian mosque

3 August 2019

From Poland’s striking, communist-era, hand-built churches to the exuberantly yonic Wedding Palace outside of Tbilisi, the New East is home to an array of playfully avant-garde religious buildings. This remarkable mosque in rural Albania stands out from the rest of the landscape thanks to its unusual geometric design.

The photo was taken by Karin Koppers during a three-week road trip across the country that took her to its towns — Tirana, Sarandë, Gjirokastër, Berat, Shkodër — and the villages in between. Surrounded by typical village houses, this mosque is situated in Vlorë county, a southern region of Albania that stretches along the Adriatic Sea.

“I was driving from Sarandë to Gjirokastër and then took a detour in the countryside. I was stopped in a village built along a provincial road when I saw the mosque. The mosque is opposite a small shop where you can buy groceries. The owner told me it was new, built by a wealthy benefactor from a neighbouring town, and that opening celebrations would start in a few weeks,” Koppers recalls.

The photographer, who is originally from the Netherlands, says she passed many churches, mosques, and Bektashi tekkes on her trip. “I knew that there are Bektashi Muslims living in the country, but I didn’t expect to see so many tekkes along the road. Some sat among beautiful, secluded spots in the middle of nature. You could easily understand why these places were chosen for spiritual meditation.”

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