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Rozafa Castle (Kalaja e Rozafës)

Rising imposing on a rocky hill, the Rozafa Castle (Kalaja e Rozafës, or Kalaja e Rozafatit), not far from Shkodër, is a mysterious structure, surrounded in legend and mysticism. According to the legend, three brothers struggled to build the castle, but what they erected during the day, fell down at night. To keep the castle from falling down, they were advised to sacrifice a human life. The three brothers decided to sacrifice the first of their wives who would bring lunch the next day. The faiths picked Rosafa, the wife of the youngest brothers, who, as the legend goes, accepted the sacrifice without protest, and was buried in the wall of the castle. The story goes on, with even more heartbreaking, cruel details: it is said that she had an infant son, and asked to be walled in alive, with her right breast exposed, to feed her child, her right eye still free, to see him, her right hand exposed to caress him, and the right foot unburied, to rock the cradle.

This is not the only legend of its kind in Eastern Europe. In fact, it is significantly similar to the Romanian legend of The master builder Manole, who built within the walls of a monastery his pregnant wife Ana.

But beyond the legend, the Rozafa Castle (Kalaja e Rozafës) testifies the former glory of these lands, and stands as the symbol of Shkodër. When you visit the site you’ll see more than the ruins of a glorious castle: there is a very interesting museum within its third courtyard, with exhibits that tell the history of the castle, and that of the city it once defended against all kinds of enemies. Below is a poem written about Rozafa’s sacrifice.

I plead
When you wall me
Leave my right eye exposed
Leave my right hand exposed
Leave my right foot exposed
for the sake of my newborn son
so that when he starts crying
Let me see him with one eye
Let me caress him with one hand
Let me feed him with one breast
Let me rock his cradle with one foot
May the castle breast be walled
May the castle rise strong
May my son be happy

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