Tirana is a relatively young city. It was founded in 1614 by Suleyman Pasha Bargjini, a local feudal lord who built the first buildings that formed the nucleus of the new town: a mosque, a hammam, and a bakery, at the place where today is the monument of the Unknown Partisan (Partizani i Panjohur). In 1816, the town was ruled by the Toptani family. The most important date in the history of Tirana is 11 February 1920, when the Congress of Lushnja proclaimed it the provisional capital of Albania, which was changed into a full status in 1925. After this decision the city has known constant growth, which reached unprecedented rates in the 1990s.
The Tirana downtown was designed by well-known Italian architects of the Mussolini period. The Big Tirana Boulevard “Dëshmorët e Kombit” (Martyrs to the Nation) was built in 1930, while the main square in the centre, Skanderbeg Square, was built during 1928-1929. In commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the death of the Albanian National Hero, Skanderbeg, an equestrian monument was placed there in his honour. In 1988, a monument of the former communist dictator was also placed in the square, but it was toppled on 20 February 1991, by students and the people of Tirana. Important buildings in Tirana include the Palace of Congresses, the International Centre of Culture, the Palace of Culture and the Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Sky Tower etc., as well as government buildings of the Council of Ministers, Presidency and Parliament. In addition to the Great Park in the southern part of the city, Tirana has other parks such as Rinia (Youth Park), the Parliament Park, the park close to the Presidency building, etc. Tirana is a major convention, conference and seminar centre in Albania. Also, owing to its young and student population, Tirana has an attractive night life offering a variety of restaurants, cuisines, bars, pubs and night clubs to visitors and locals alike.