Albania documentaries uncover the traditions of Europe's most mysterious land

Albania is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Its enchanting Adriatic beaches and majestic mountainous terrain beguile travellers, but the twists and turns of its history have conspired to keep curious visitors at arm’s length.

Albania documentaries
The beauty of the Albanian Alps hides many secrets.

The Albanian language is not closely related to any other Indo-European language. The Balkan country was first exposed to Orthodox and Catholic Christianity before centuries of Ottoman rule turned it into a European exception, a multi-faith, majority-Muslim society. After WWII, communist leader Enver Hoxha spearheaded the industrialization of the country, declared it the world’s first atheist state in 1967, and cut Albania off from outside influences. Since the end of communist rule in 1990, the country has been trying to find its place in modern Europe and catching up economically.

Albania documentaries
Albania’s sworn virgins choose ‘the path of a true man’.

As an upper middle income country where 35% of the population still works in agriculture, tradition remains strong. In its Albania documentary, RTD explores one of Albania’s most unusual practices, which arose from a Medieval criminal code: the tradition of women taking on the role of ‘burrneshas’, that is sworn virgins. They become honorary men in order to represent their families in this patriarchal society.