The Kulla “Blood Feud” Tower, Theth/Thethi, Albania
It was easy to pick out the Kulla Tower in the distance…View image…, and the group followed the first red blazes of the entire trip up and over the stiles…View image, through cornfields and small terraces. A German man took it upon himself to raise money and paint blazes on the trails in this valley.
The impressive stone tower is referred to locally as Kulla e ngujimit, lock-in tower. This tower is the premier sight in Theth and also called the Kulla “Vendetta/Blood Feud” Tower because of its history. The Albanian Kanun, Code of Leke Dukagini (an ancient code of law) not only sets forth in detail how an Albanian is supposed to treat guests but also, strict rules for vengence killing. Someone is allowed to kill another person to avenge an earlier murder or moral humiliation. There are strict rules on how this may be carried out and revenge killings of women, children or elderly persons is strictly prohibited. The practice of Gjakmarrja (“blood-taking/blood feud”) or Hakmarrja (“revenge”) still takes place today in remote parts of Albania and Kosovo.
While the group sat down to eat lunch at the base of the Kulla Tower, ex-Marine and I walked around the rocks to the door opening. An Albanian tourist group was inside the tower with a guide who had unlocked it and I went in to see what was going on. The entire inside construction is of rough stone and was totally dark whenever someone in the group closed the door……View image. The friendly Albanians from Tirana were on holiday, spoke English and insisted on sharing photographs and information as they climbed up and down to the first level.
During an act of vengence or revenge, the men would all head for the tower and lock themselves in. The main floor would have a ladder that they’d use to climb up to the trapdoor on the first floor, and then pull the ladder up after them…View image. With easily guarded windows on the first two levels, no enemy could gain entrance. Women and children would bring food and supplies that were drawn up with a rope lowered from the upper levels by the barricaded men. The men would sit out the blood feud on the inside first and second levels for however long it took until the matter was settled. Usually, when an unlucky relative was killed. “Blood letting” done, the village could go back to normal living.
The first level was roughly furnished just to give visitors an idea of life in the Kulla along with old photographs hung on the walls.
We climbed back down the ladder, and paid the guide 1 Euro per person for the visit. I’m not sure if he’s always around to open the locked door or not. The group was still eating lunch in the shade. Since neither of us felt like hanging around, Florian gave directions to a watchtower and the way back to the guesthouse.