In the town of Prrenjas, situated in eastern Albania, a once-dilapidated industrial relic has been transformed into a captivating landmark. Artist Eljan Tanini took a pair of abandoned nickel mining towers—vestiges of Albania’s failed industrial aspirations under communist rule—and transformed them with an astonishing 1,380 ladybugs. Symbolizing femininity and good fortune, these ladybugs are a vibrant nod to the town’s female mayor and its broader identity.
During the rule of communist leader Enver Hoxha, Albania underwent a period of intense industrialization while being cut off from the rest of the world. This left a legacy of aging factories, bunkers, and mining facilities scattered across the country. Since the fall of communism, these structures have largely been abandoned, standing as solemn monuments to a repressive past. However, art projects like the one in Përrenjas demonstrate the potential for turning these sites into symbols of renewal and hope.
The project was completed in just 22 days and features eco-friendly paint. The mining towers themselves go more than 300 meters underground. Additionally, a tree has sprouted 52 meters up on one of the towers, offering a striking symbol of nature’s resilience.
As you traverse the intriguing landscape of Albania, a stop in Prrenjas offers a unique chance to witness this extraordinary confluence of industrial decay and contemporary artistic vision. Through initiatives like this, artists are helping to redefine Albania’s historical scars as canvases for cultural expression, showing that even in the most unlikely places, there’s room for beauty and change.
Know Before You Go
Përrenjas is a small town located in the eastern part of Albania, near the border with North Macedonia. It is not a major tourist destination, but its location makes it an interesting stop for those interested in exploring both countries or for those on their way to some of Albania's more scenic spots.