The Legend of Rozafa

Few days ago I visited Shkodra for the first time. Even though I didn’t have the time to fully investigate this city, I couldn’t go without visiting the Rozafa castle. It is located on top of a hill, overlooking 2 of Shkodra’s rivers, and a lake with Montenegro in the horizons.

When I got back home I discovered that Rozafa was the castle associated with a famous legend about a woman who was buried in the foundation of the castle, and here it goes:

“Its legend, archeology and history testify to its early existence. The legend is about the initiative of three brothers who set about building the castle. They worked all day, but the walls fell down at night. They met a clever old man who advised them to sacrifice someone so that the walls would stand. The three brothers found it difficult to decide whom to sacrifice. Finally, they decided to sacrifice one of their wives who would bring lunch to them the next day. So they agreed that whichever of their wives was the one to bring them lunch the next day was the one who would be buried in the wall of the castle. They also promised not to tell their wives of this. The two older brothers, however, explained the situation to their wives that night, while the honest youngest brother said nothing.

The next afternoon at lunch time, the brothers waited anxiously to see which wife was carrying the basket of food. It was Rosafa, the wife of the youngest brother. He explained to her what the deal was, that she was to be sacrificed and buried in the wall of the castle so that they could finish building it, and she didn’t protest.

Rozafa, who was predestined to be walled, was worried about her infant son, so she accepted being walled on condition that they must leave her right breast exposed so as to feed her newborn son, her right hand to caress him and her right foot to rock his cradle:

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

copied from here and here


15 responses to “The Legend of Rozafa

  1. Oh my Gosh! That is so beautiful! I miss reading these stories and hearing these legends. Albania seems just the country to be filled with such legends.. I shall have to visit it very soon 😉

    Make good use of your time there, travel around and tell us more stories 🙂

  2. albania is a very precious place to visit.. it has many legends ike this .. this one is very beautiful and it has come generations to generations.. 🙂

  3. Yes, Albania has a lot of legends like this, but did you understood the moral of the story?
    There is no punishing God in Albanian culture, nothing happens to older brothers and their wives for breaking the promise. There is no rewarding God either, nothing earns the young brother, he just looses his wife.
    Why do you think Albanians choose to create the story this way and deemed it important to transmit it generation after generation for over two millenniums?

    • Altin the legend does not talk about small things like punishment or wards for weak or strong brothers
      Important was to build the castle, the history have chosen Rozafa castle to go down last one from Turkish empire
      the fate of wife’s or moral of 3 brothers it is nothing compare with castle. Castle was the simbol of the freedom even after Gjergj Kastrioti left this world

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