Restoring the Sarajet of Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni

Restoring the Sarajet of Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni

From Bianca Gjomarkaj Nakovics

This is a private initiative to raise funds for the restoration of the Sarajet of Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni in Orosh, Mirdita. This historical site will be turned into a cultural center for the benefit of all Mirdita.

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Update #4

8 months ago

Greetings everyone and Happy New Year!

This update comes with some hopeful news. We reached out to the municipality of Mirdita to join forces in the development of this cultural center. The winter months are harsh in Orosh so we have not been able to make any trips to the area, as soon as the snow melts and the roads are passable we will be heading out there again to survey the land and commence clean up of the building site.

Attached is the latest photogravure which I found showing the Sarajet after the destruction by the Turkish in late 1890's. What history!!

Stay tuned....
Bianca Gjomarkaj

More Info

Hello, my name is Bianca Nakovics, nee Gjomarkaj. I am the grand-daughter of Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni. My family's provenance is Orosh, Mirdita, where my grandfather was Kapidan (Chieftain) of the region, which comprises the north-eastern part of the country. In 1945 the Sarajet of Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni in Orosh, along with all its contents, was burned down to the ground by the communists, leaving behind only remnants of an era gone by. My two uncles, Kapidan Mark and Kapidan Sander Gjon Marku were both killed during the anti-communist resistance in the mountains of Mirdita; Mark in 1946 and Sander in 1947. In 1944, my father Kapidan Ndue, was forced into exile with my grandfather and arrived in Italy in 1945. The rest of the family, ten members in all, were jailed, some up to 15 years, and then sent to forced labor camps, until the fall of communism in 1991.

The people of Mirdita fell into a black hole for 45 years, the retaining wall of the Sarajet standing as a silent reminder of the suffering they went through while their leaders lay dead, jailed or in exile. Their hopes shattered. Their dreams spent.

Seventy-six years later, I am starting a private initiative to remove all traces of communist oppression and return the Sarajet to its glory. The original Sarajet, built in 1833, was pillaged and destroyed by the Ottomans in 1883. In 1895 the new Sarajet was completed, after three years of construction.

Over the centuries worldwide emissaries were welcomed at the Sarajet. Tribal leaders gathered to conduct peace negotiations. Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni reconciled over 600 family feuds at the Sarajet. The renewal of the covenant of the Besa of 1928, for the equality of the Bajraks, which was gathered by the Kapidan in May of that year in Shpal, was declared as a holiday at the Sarajet. The wedding of Kapidan Mark Gjon Marku, the firstborn son, took place at the Sarajet over a 40 day period filled with celebration. The Sarajet is of extreme historical importance to Mirdita's culture and identity, in addition to Albania's history as a whole.

The initiative is to raise funds for the restoration, which will be as close as possible to its original historical condition of 1833, and create a hub of culture, education and learning in Orosh. Our goals, after the restoration, are to create a 'Welcome Center' for all Albanians and foreigners alike where they can enjoy its museum, cultural activities and the surrounding gardens. It will provide an avenue to facilitate learning, growth and well-being. It will be a place of joy, rebirth and peace. With the assistance of local historians and educators we aim to teach children and young adults about the historical and cultural importance of the Sarajet and the influence of the Dera e Gjomarku (The House of Gjomarkaj) had, not only in Orosh but throughout Mirdita and Albania.

The new Sarajet will be a center to further culture and history through guided tours of the house and museum, to enjoy the surrounding gardens and hosted events promoting Mirdita's heritage and traditions. Cultural activities, seminars, workshops and everyday encounters with the residents of Orosh will bring the community closer and revive the camaraderie which Mirdita was so well known for. Tourists will enjoy folk tales from the old and wise residents of Orosh, while having the opportunity to sample homemade raki,  cheese and byrek. Children will have a play area where they can enjoy their games in the fresh mountain air. Seniors will have their special space for their long conversations and story telling. I believe there is something that anyone can benefit from the estate. Heritage sites and buildings play an important role in how people view the places they live, which affects their quality of life. 

A key component of the project is about shaping the way in which the estate can be used for the future: cultural activities, learning seminars, civic and private events or simple relaxation and enjoyment away from life's challenges.

All efforts will be made to employ local craftsmen: masons, carpenters, electricians, etc. giving them an opportunity for work as well as being involved in this historic endeavor.

This campaign aims to raise funds for the full restoration of the Sarajet including: surveys, architectural expenses, permits, furnishings, landscaping and road work.

The plan is for a three story building in the Ottoman style, as close as possible to the original Sarajet of 1833-1883 as pictured below. Each story will be 300m2.

The estimated costs are as follow and are subject to change:

  • architectural fee - $27,000/23.000€
  • turnkey construction (includes engineer/surveys/permits) - $350/300€ per m2 (for a total of 900m2-each floor is 300m2)
  • furniture, museum set-up - $10,000/9.000€
  • road improvement - $11,000/10.000€
  • landscaping - $5,000/4.000€

Please visit our Mission Statement and Vision Gallery pages for the property for a more in-depth understanding of our project.

With your support this endeavor will help me to help Orosh and Mirdita's history and culture be known to all!

Thank you 

Bianca Gjomarkaj Nakovics

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Help Bianca raise $370,000 by making a donation.

Bianca Gjomarkaj Nakovics posted a new update:
8 months ago

Update #4

Greetings everyone and Happy New Year!

This update comes with some hopeful news. We reached out to the municipality of Mirdita to join forces in the development of this cultural center. The winter months are harsh in Orosh so we have not been able to make any trips to the area, as soon as the snow melts and the roads are passable we will be heading out there again to survey the land and commence clean up of the building site.

Attached is the latest photogravure which I found showing the Sarajet after the destruction by the Turkish in late 1890's. What history!!

Stay tuned....
Bianca Gjomarkaj

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Bianca Gjomarkaj Nakovics posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #3

Fostering education and culture is a top priority for the Sarajet e Kapidan Gjon Marka Gjoni. Our very first initiative was the unveiling of the restored Martyrs' Monument in Shpal, sponsored by the Sarajet. The names on this monument are but a handful of the hundreds of martyrs who died fighting against communism. They gave up their youth, lives and families for a free Mirdita and Albania. These martyrs were killed, some dismembered and all thrown into the valley below the monument or dispersed around the valley. Their bodies were never found. Two of those valiant heroes were Kapidan Mark Gjomarkaj and Kapidan Llesh Gjomarkaj, sons of the Kapidan of Mirdite Gjon Marka Gjoni. This was a small token on our part to let them know that they are not and will not ever be forgotten. May their soul rest in peace!

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Bianca Gjomarkaj Nakovics posted a new update:
about 1 year ago

Update #1

Edhe pse temperatura teper te larta ,sot ishte nje dite e veçante per Oroshin.
Faleminderit Arkitektit (architeto Giliberto dhe bashkepunetorit te studios se arkitektures dhe mikut tim Fatmir per pranine e tyre fizikisht ne truall te Sarajeve.
Me arkitektin z.Giliberto diskutuam gjate ne truall te sarajeve per variantet e struktures se adheshme dhe vura re me sinqeritet te plote nje profesionalizem te shkelqyer si dhe shkelqim idesh ne perputhje me vlerat e treves tone dhe kuptimin e struktures muzeale qe do te ndertohet nga familja Gjomarkaj po mbi themelet e kullave te djegura me 1945.
Arkiteto Giliberto.Nuk e harroj kurre kete dite.Ti u nise nga Roma ne te zbardhur te dites , e nga Rinasi rrugtove drejt e ne Orosh.Une personalisht kam mbetur pa fjale nga korrektesa juaj dhe nga mendimi juaj profesionalist dhe arkitekturor.
Bianka sot gjithashtu na nderoi me qendresen e saj kundrejt ksaj vape te tmerrshme e me gjithate nese gjithkush diten e sotme do ta shenonte ne kelendarin e tij si diten me te nxehte te vitit , une dua ta shkruaj ne kalendarin tim si diten me te ngrohte , rrethuar me miq e me bukuri prej bjeshkesh duke shenuar edhe hapin e pare drejt fillimit te realizimit te projektit te rikonstruksionit te Sarajeve te Kapidanit te Mirdites.
Ju faleminderit per mbeshtetjen dhe sakrificen tuaj.
Faleminderit arch.Giliberto
Faleminderit Fatmir
Faleminderit Bianka
Faleminderit Vincent.
Juaj A.Ll.

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