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The steep Albanian Alps on the background of the Lock-in tower of ThethiThe steep Albanian Alps on the background of the Lock-in tower of Thethi

The village of Thethi is an isolated hamlet embedded in the Albanian Alps, that preserves ancient traditions and a well preserved lock-in-tower.

We reached Thethi after hiking from Valbona Valley for 8 hours: an incredibly beautiful and easy route that I would suggest to anybody.

Our positive energy was destroyed somehow in the evening, when while searching for accommodation in Thethi, Oti got bitten by a dog. But the next morning, after a restoring and calming night, we accumulated the energy needed to go and visit the village.

View from Thethi river after reaching the valleyView from Thethi river after reaching the valley

We found out that we were still far from the core of the hamlet, and the free camping places we were looking for the night before, revealed to be bars with open gardens in the other side of the village, one being exactly if front of the lock-in-tower.
After passing the scene of the crime, we reached the old church that we saw so many times, being pictured everywhere in brochures and articles about Thethi.
A nice stone church in a beautiful setting but nothing impressive.

The old church of Thethi surrounded by the Accursed MountainsThe old church of Thethi surrounded by the Accursed Mountains

The entrance door was closed, but a small girl speaking some words of English was sent by her parents to attract new customer to their "bar", proposing us to open the church. She was quite pushy and while we felt sorry for her to be exploited in such a way by the parents we couldn't help feeling quite annoyed.
We refused, but we still managed to see the uninspiring interior after another group of hikers was caught in the same trap.
We then joined other trekkers and explored together the surroundings, patrolling every single invisible path inside the village, through traditional stone houses and green gardens.

Local houses in ThethiLocal houses in Thethi

50 shades of green surrounding Thethi50 shades of green surrounding Thethi

Local Albanian inhabitant farming the landLocal Albanian inhabitant farming the land

Being a small place, it didn't pass long until we visited most of the place, leaving the big attraction as a last delight: the lock-in tower.

The lock-in-tower of Thethi

Lock-in-towers were used in Albania and the whole Balkans to defend killers and offenders from revenge and blood-feuds, while trying to find a "peaceful" solution between the families involved. All the process was following the Kanun, a rule of conduct written by Lekë Dukagjin almost 6 centuries before. The isolation was ending only when either the offended family was granting forgiveness, or when a member of the killer's family was killed in return. Feuds were involving only men, women and kids being excluded.

Approaching the village of Thethi and its lock-in-towerApproaching the village of Thethi and its lock-in-tower

As we were told by the local guide, in some occasion that I don't remember exactly (maybe in proximity of the end of a 40 days period of bargainings) a baby was taken and put in a cradle inside the tower in a way that he would have died if an agreement wasn't found quickly, pushing this way the families to find a fast and peaceful solution.

The cradle inside the lock-in-tower of ThethiThe cradle inside the lock-in-tower of Thethi
While the tower itself is quite simple and uninspiring, the history behind it, is extremely interesting. For the visit we paid around 1€ that included a guided visit in Albanian (translated for us by other hikers).

Opening from the interior of the lock-in towerOpening from the interior of the lock-in tower

Once we were done with the visit of the Lock-in-tower of Thethi, we were ready to leave, and the events transformed our trip back, in our worst experience hitchhiking ever!
Despite some unexpected experiences we loved Albania and Thethi was for sure one of the most lovely villages we have seen, definitely worth a visit!

Davide VadalàDavide Vadalà
In 2009 I quit my job to chase my dream of exploring our planet in a sustainable way and I haven't stopped yet. I love nature, sustainability, travel photography, handicrafts and hiking, and I never stop dreaming. More about Davide Vadala'.

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 Where are we now: Spain, Italy

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Davide and Oti

We are Davide and Otilia, two friends with itchy feet, living a non conventional life traveling around the world and learning everyday something new....
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