While I didn’t have time on my day trip to visit the lake, I hired an English speaking driver at the tourist information booth in the city center to take me to both Mes Bridge and Rozafa Castle. Each trip cost 1400 lek for a total of 2800 lek. You can ask the person at the booth to set it up for you. In my case, it ended up being a husband and wife team helping me, with the wife working in the info booth and the husband driving me in his personal car. They didn’t volunteer that information, which is fine, but I figured it out after the woman told me her brother-in-law lived in Florida and the driver later told me his brother lived in Florida.
After finishing a tour of Mes Bridge, we drove back through Shkodër and 2km outside the city center to Rozafa Castle. It’s possible to take a bus or walk to the castle and then walk up, but it’s quite a hike. For time purposes, I decided to save a good hour or two round trip and use the services of the driver. Admission is 200 lek. I was given an hour to inspect the castle and enjoy the views from the top.
Rozafa Castle has been inhabited since ancient Illyrian times. It was captured in 167 BC by the Romans. It was later controlled by the Venetians, who built most of the remaining walls. The Ottomans captured it in 1478, and it was sieged by the Montenegrins in 1912.
The castle isn’t much different than other castles I’ve seen, but it did have several ruins inside, including those of a mosque. The Fatih Sultan Mehmet Mosque was built in 1479 over the remains of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which was built in the 13th century. The church was replaced by the modern St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the city center.
Other ruins include an Ottoman prison, a cistern, and other buildings.
A wall separates the public area and the government area of the castle. On the other side of the wall is the Venetian governor’s house and an Ottoman arsenal. The governor’s house is now a museum. There was also a cafe that happened to be closed for my visit.
One of the highlights of visiting Rozafa Castle are the views. I was able to see clearly in every direction, including the city of Shkodër, the plains to the south, and Lake Shkodër and the border of Montenegro.
I was also able to see the Lead Mosque (Xhamia e Plumbit). It was built in 1773 by Ottoman governor Mehmet Paşa Bushati. The first imam was Haxhi Ahmet Misria, an Egyptian. It was named after the lead tiles that covered it’s copulas. The lead was gradually stolen over time, and the Austrian army removed it in 1916 during their rule. The minaret was destroyed by lightning in 1967. It’s not functional due to frequent flooding, and the best views are from Rozafa Castle.