GES100 - TID Tower, Tiranë, Albania
In the late Spring of 2011, I embarked on another trip in my ambitious plan to see as much of the world as possible. My start point would be in Tiranë, Albania. The trip was primarily focused on seeing as much of the area as possible, along with normal tourist highlights. Guerrilla Exploring wasn't the main reason or something i'd invested time thinking about. However within an hour of landing, I found myself in a taxi heading from Rinas airport into town. A slovenly 'Big Boss' sprawled out across the back seat, regaling me with how big a fan he was of Chelski. One of his minions trying to think of ways to extort more cash from me. I'm very well travelled my friend, and I know pretty much every trick in the book, so just drive. As we pulled passed Skanderbeg Square in the centre of town, I couldn't help but notice a tall building with a crane beside it. Suddenly Guerrilla Exploring became very much on the menu. The building stood alone and higher than pretty much anything else nearby. When I came back to Tiranë later in my trip, this would be a target.
3 Countries later and I was back in Tiranë. After checking into a hostel, I set about exploring the city, the Blloku area with it's many eateries and fancy bars. The University district with it's campus buildings, grand avenues and local parks with mothers and children in abundance. And then crossing what's billed as a river, but is actually a large stream in a concrete gully, one comes eventually to Skanderbeg Square, named after an Albanian hero. On it's NE edge sat the TID Tower. It had 8-10ft tall thin blue metal sheeting around it's perimeter. I set about walking the perimeter looking for potential weak spots, cameras and glancing through small holes in the fence to see if there were workmen or security about. A security hut sat on the Northern edge near the worker entrance, but apart from that, all looked good. As the site was devoid of anyone, I fancied going for a daylight attempt. However there was only one area that didn't have constant public attention. I acquired a bit of packing crate that I had to carefully carry off from an area being re-paved nearby, and left it lying in some weeds near where I planned to get over. However everytime I thought I had a gap in which to go for it, someone would walk past, or the fag seller on the corner would turn around. After an hour I gave up, and wandered off to see the rest of the city and get some food.
A render of what the finished building will look like.
Moving forward a number of hours, and it was now around 9pm. The buses had stopped, and the fag seller had packed up his offerings into baskets and suitcases, and arranged them on his specialised disabled cycle cart. As he sodded off, I stood near my access point, piece of packing crate in position ready to leap up the rickety but sturdy wooden scaffold. However there was a cafe at the far end of the access point, and although it looked closed up, it felt like a chap was watching me, large and burly in a pink polo top, talking into a phone. Was it common for locals to keep getting into the tower this way, and he sized me up as another? There was a political rally going on in a building just past the far end of the alley, with cops and a film crew. So if the police were called, they wouldn't have far to go. He disappeared and after a walk around the block, I couldn't see him. Then just as I was going for it, I spotted a bloke in the neighbouring park who although it was dark, could have clearly seen me. Again I aborted, and walked off around the back of the park, to wait him out. It took a quarter of an hour, but he finally sodded off. RIGHT! Another attempt then. This time I had a last quick check around, and launched up the wooden scaff in a less than graceful manner. On top of the scaffold I flattened out, and had a quick check down the ally to the political rally direction. All good. I then twisted and dropped into the site.
I quickly crouched by a pillar and scanned carefully the area for any signs of life. Nothing. I then quickly moved along the side of the fence, trying to keep cover behind pillars. As I reached the last pillar, I heard a loud noise that sounded like footsteps and feet scrapping. I froze, how had I missed seeing this person. I waited expecting to be caught, and after a minute of nothing, carefully pulled my feet back behind the narrow pillar, in the blind belief I might not have been seen. Another minute passed, and I figured something wasn't right. I carefully peered around the pillar to see no one about. It was just a noise of something above, the water coming down through the building. Relived, i darted and dived about the site, careful of the security chap at the far end of the site. Eventually I found what I was after, the lift shaft. And next to it a handy set of stairs. 25 flights of dark grey stairs later I was at the top of the building. The views were good! Looking SW over Skanderbeg Square. The U shaped building on the right is the Palace of Culture.
The military and government buildings that form around Skanderbeg square.
NE Tiranë, another building project going on in an adjacent plot to the TID.
NW Tiranë, as one might expect in a former communist country, apartment blocks of standard designs proliferate.
A pose from me, camera looking west.
The stairwell exits on the roof and the crane. There was a lot of rain water on the roof, which was heavily passing onto the stairs and raining down the building.
The stairs going down, they have a hole in the wall where they cross each other, occurring on every level.
Closer shot of the official buildings around Skanderbeg Sq.
Albania is mostly a Muslim country, but the message of the Christian church still shines on.
Closer look at some apartment buildings West of the tower.
The National Museum of History in the foreground, looking South West. Rruga Durrësit (Road to Durres, a town on the coast) is lit up as it provides a fast escape out of Tiranë
Buildings to the East of the tower
In the centre in the pic, one can just make out a lit up slab of rock, and on it is a chap on a horse, this being Mr.Skanderbeg, defeater of the Turks in the middle ages.
A folly of the main communist dictator in Albania's daughter, the white Pyramid building sits in the foreground, behind it in the trees is the PM's residence. The lit up building behind that is the Academy of Arts.
Looking West over the northern bit of Skanderbeg square
Descending a few floors, i popped out to look at the odd panels just hanging. I couldn't quite work out how the missing bits would fit in.
I was pleased to find no one waiting for me on tbe ground floor, and quickly exited the way i'd come in.