On the 3rd anniversary of Erion Veliaj's election as Head of the Municipality of Tirana, the Mayor has received an incredible prize in Barcelona for the work done on Skanderbeg Square.
The new city centre was selected by a jury of international professionals as the best urban public space in Europe for 2018, triumphing over 279 other projects from 32 countries.
This prize can now be added to the trophy cabinet alongside the award that Skanderbeg Square took at the Chicago Biennial one year ago.
The jury, made up of the best international architecture experts and headed by Olga Tarraso, praised Skanderbeg Square as a stunning, relaxing, monumental square and a most exciting project.
Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj declared such an award as the best possible reward for all involved in the great amount of work done, from the design phase to the final construction of the new Square.
"We are all so happy that, in Barcelona today, Tirana received the most prestigious award for public space in Europe. We got the prize as the best public space in Europe from over 32 countries and 279 projects.
"I do not think there is a greater blessing or reward for such a colossal piece of work.
"This project began back with Edi Rama and the Tirana Municipality team of the year 2000. In 2008 the project was tendered, they started work, but then the project was buried by the new sleeping administration that took over.
"Finally it re-emerged as part of the Urban Renaissance project, which has brought about significant transformation across the city, not only for Skanderbeg Square," said the mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj.
Also, the mayor underlined that the award that Skanderbeg Square has received is further proof that the new National Theater, like all other project attacked by the opposition, is sure to be evaluated later as a huge success.
"What is next is the Tirana Theater. I am happy today, and I want to thank the actors and architects heartily. The overwhelming majority have expressed: 'Yes, we want a new theater, but let's negotiate the best version'.
"This is fantastic news! I look forward to the fact that, like Tirana has won these awards and is being rated for all these "ornaments" of the Urban Renaissance.
"The time will soon come to give Tirana a dignified theater and all these scenes we are seeing will become a forgotten tale of the past. We have seen this script play out with the square, with the bazaar, with the Lake, with the Boulevard, but here we are today!
"If we looked at each other with the same love that Europe sees, we would achieve Europe in Albania.
"I look forward to moving on to the fifth major project, that of the theater, after we have agreed on a dignified space that does not affect theater property.
"We have found the best way, like the stadium, to give Tirana a theater without money from the taxpayer, without seizing property, and with triple the amount of space for artists.
"I believe that it is not so far in the future that we will be receiving prizes also for our new theater," added the mayor.
International jury member and architectural critic, Dutchman Hans Ibelings said that Skanderbeg Square was one of the most exciting projects amongst all of this year's candidacies.
Another member of the jury, Peter Cachola of the Frankfurt Museum of Architecture, said that Skanderbeg Square offers the interconnection of a large public space with smaller intimate spaces, such as the oasis of flowers around it, creating an interesting and highly versatile space.