As mentioned earlier on this blog, the enormous pyramid on the crossroad of the main boulevard and the Lana, opened in 1988 as a museum for the late communist dictator Enver Hoxha, has been the scenery for various activities. After the fall of communism in 1991 it was used as a conference center and party venue; during the 1999 Kosovo War it was used as a NATO base; since 2001 the national commercial television station Top Channel is settled in the back part of the pyramid (by then the building was already officially renamed International Center for Culture); for years the front part has been used as a venue for conventions and cultural events and even facilitated a popular dance club, until only a few years ago.
Focusing on the current activity inside of the pyramid, an imaginary line dividing the front part from the back part of the building can be drawn. The back part of the building emits constant activity; being a big transmitter of popular television programs. In contrast, the front entrance of the building – introduced by a symmetrically organized park with stairs and dead fountains – is slatternly barricaded with random pieces of wood and metal plates; being totally closed for the outside world. Since the front part of the Pyramid has been abandoned, the condition of the structure started to run back in big steps. In only little time the white marble on the banks disappeared; immature graffiti is being employed all over; many windows are smashed and holes are closed in a poor looking manner. Asking Tirana’s inhabitants about the building, everybody agrees that the pyramid should be restored in its original form, open to the public in a way to not forget about the past. Top Channel journalist Alisa Mysliu to an American journalist about the pyramid: ”It’s part of us. Even communism, even the good things. It’s a part of our country. It’s part of our history. Have you destroyed everything in your country that brings you bad memories?” Sadly enough the authorities gave up on the pyramid last year, allowing the consummation of a passive destruction if not actively breaking it down.
The Pyramid: Inside
Who isn’t curious to know what’s the deal with that shadowy section under the wings of this dramatic piece of architecture? In an attempt to make my way inside I start to investigate the building from different angles. As I peek inside I notice the presence of a huge skeleton, most probably of a whale (perhaps a prehistoric specimen?). Where does this bone installation come from and how did it end up in an abandoned part of the pyramid? As far as I know neither the Adriatic Sea nor the Ionian Sea inhabits whales, but I do know that the Museum of Natural Sciences in Tirana have a collection of various dead sea creatures, including the biggest sea turtle ever found in Albania. Perchance they’re dealing with insufficient storage space and remembered an abandoned building in town with a potential to be used as a depot? Days later I discover life in the front part of the pyramid: a small dog is running around. A great sign I think, him probably being a stray dog who found a way in! Days later I encounter the same dog behind the west gate of the pyramid (padlocked from the outside). As I approach him to ask for a way in, he starts calling the guard, laying in the small red cabin at the gate. A door opens as I’m blown away by his hysterical yelling. He, however, stays flat on his bed. Returning several times learned me that they are there most of the time. If somebody would ask me what’s going on in the dark side of the pyramid, I’d answer that a hopeless duo is locked in there, waiting for the day when the pyramid will be subjected to radical change. Because that day will come.