The story of Kazerma e Cerenit is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of a nation. Once a secretive military installation in communist Albania, this remarkable site has been transformed into a sustainable agro-tourism business and a top dining destination. Let’s explore the history of Kazerma e Cerenit, the vision of its owner Ismet Shehu, and how it became the first Albanian Green Agro-tourism Business in the Western Balkans.
A Secretive Military Past
Established in 1975 as Army Barracks 3700, Kazerma e Cerenit was initially built to house military units of the then-Ministry of Defence (MoD) of communist Albania. The construction of the Barracks began in 1968, starting with the excavation of tunnels and the establishment of the logistics base required for its operations.
Before its conversion into a military facility, the land belonged to a state-owned Agricultural Co-operative, where tomatoes were cultivated. The Barracks were an anonymous unit of the MoD, housing Chinese OQ-2 and OQ-4 rockets. The exact number and types of military equipment and weapons stored at the location were known only to the Officer in charge and the Chief of Staff of the communist Albanian Army.
Surviving Turmoil and Transformation
In 1997, a tumultuous year in Albania’s modern history, Kazerma e Cerenit was spared any damage due to its favourable geographical position. It wasn’t until 2020 that work began to transform the Barracks into an agro-tourism business, with a focus on preserving the identity of each building and displaying rare military artefacts from the era.
Minimal interventions were carried out, such as repairing walls and other deteriorated parts of the Army Barracks. The remainder of the site was kept as close to the original as possible, including the dormitories, dining hall, and new war museum. The transformation also involved creating contemporary spaces suitable for food processing, while prioritizing safety.
A Dining Destination and Green Agro-tourism Business
Ismet Shehu, the visionary owner of Kazerma e Cerenit, turned this historical location into an exceptional dining experience, complete with sustainable agricultural practices. On January 29, 2023, Kazerma e Cerenit was inaugurated as an agro-tourism business utilizing renewable energy. Thanks to the installation of solar panels throughout the site, it has become the first Albanian Green Agro-tourism Business in the Western Balkans.
Visitors to Kazerma e Cerenit can now experience a unique blend of history, sustainability, local culture, and exceptional cuisine. As Albania’s first green agro-tourism business and a premier dining destination, Kazerma e Cerenit stands as a symbol of the nation’s remarkable transformation, showing how its past can be repurposed to create a brighter, greener future.
The story of Kazerma e Cerenit highlights the power of innovation and adaptability in the face of change. This former military installation has found new life as a sustainable agro-tourism business and a top dining destination under the leadership of owner Ismet Shehu. By preserving its historical significance while contributing to the growth of Albania’s eco-tourism and culinary industries, the success of Kazerma e Cerenit serves as an inspiration for other countries to explore innovative ways of repurposing their own historical sites for a more sustainable future.