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Tirana (Albanian: Tiranë or Tirana) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Albania. It was founded in 1614 by Sulejman Pasha and became Albania's capital city in 1920.
Tirana is located at 41°19'48?N, 19°49'12?E (41.33°N, 19.82°E) in the eponymous district and county. Its average altitude is 90 metres above sea level. It is on the Ishm River, about 20 miles inland.
The area now occupied by the city of Tirana has been populated since Neolithic times, as evidenced by various remains discovered there. A castle, possibly called Tirkan, was built by Emperor Justinian in 520 AD and restored by Ahmed Pasha Toptani in the 18th century. The area had no especial importance in Illyrian and Classical times. There were medieval settlements in the area at Preza, Ndroq, Lalmi and Petrela Castle. In 1418, Marin Barleti, an Albanian Catholic priest and scholar, the first to write a history of Albania, referred to "Plenum Tyrenae," a small village. There are references to "Tirana e Madhe" and "Tirana e Vogël" (Greater and Lesser Tirana).
The records of the first land registrations under the Ottomans in 1431-32 show that Tirana consisted of 60 inhabited areas, with nearly 1,000 houses and 7,300 inhabitants. The 1583 registration records that Tirana had 110 inhabited areas, with 2,900 houses and 20,000 inhabitants.
Süleiman Pasha Mulleti (or Sulejman Pasha), a local ruler, established the Ottoman town in 1614 with a mosque, a commercial centre and a hammam (Turkish sauna). The town was located along caravan routes and grew rapidly in importance until the early 19th century. During this period, the mosque in the centre of Tirana, the Et'hem Bey Mosque designed by Molla Bey of Petrela, began to be constructed. It employed the best artisans in the country and was completed in 1821 by Molla's son, who was also Sulejman Pasha’s grand-nephew. After 1816, Tirana languished under the control of the Toptani family of Kruja. The rule of Esat Toptani was so harmful to the city that little or no industrial development occurred until the 20th century.
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