Murrë: The Deserted Village

The nearly-vacant village of Murrë, in Albania (already Europe’s most isolated country), is only accessible via foot or horseback.

Before the breakdown of the communist regime in 1990, the mountain village was bustling, with more than 100 families living there. Generations communed in stone-built homes, and the mountain conditions yielded everything that everyone needed.

Yet the change in government caused chaos. Better opportunities were available in the cities. Teachers and doctors left. Infrastructure declined. The mountain villages became more and more deserted. Today, just a couple of families remain.

I visited one family in Murrë. Entirely self-sufficient, they grow onions, corn and vegetables. Their 68 chickens and 40 goats provide eggs, milk and meat. They keep bees and horses. Guard dogs and cats patrol the perimeter, which teeters on the side of the jagged mountain.

Here are a few portraits of some of the kind and beautiful people I met. Thanks for the endless coffee, the warm bed, the huge feasts, and all the hugs and laughs! Still feel weird from all the raki though…!

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