Sari Salltik’s Shrine in Kruje, Albania
A shrine to the 13th-century Alevi Turkish dervish who is credited with introducing Islam to the Balkans.
Road Rruga E Malit runs north from Kruje and climbs the steep slopes of Mount Maili I Krujes for seven kilometres before coming to a halt. Apart from the occasional café, no other structures are along the path. This route is built for one purpose: to lead to the shrine known as Sari Salltik. To avoid confusion, Sari Salltik is both a religious figure from the 13th century and the name of a shrine dedicated to him.
Much historical information on Sari Salltik must be included, accurate, and trustworthy. For example, his birth date is unknown, and his birthplace is disputed. According to several reports, he is thought to come from modern-day Uzbekistan or Crimea. The ancient Turkic manuscripts known as Oğuzname claim that in 1261, Sari Salltik was in the Romanian area of Dobruja, although with conflicting information about the province's political position. Even his demise is shrouded in mystery. Sari Salltik died in the Romanian town of Babadag in 1297 or 1298, and his bones were interred in seven coffins. The shrine in Kruje is now merely one of several locations claiming to be his final resting place.
The Sari Salltik shrine is in a cave towards the road's terminus. A flight of steps leads to a landing with a bust of Sari Salltik. A metal structure with chains and hooks facing the figure is used for animal sacrifice. A ram-shaped fountain may be found at the far end of the landing. There is a modest hexagonal shrine, the tomb of Sari Salltik inside the cave, and tombs of other notable religious personalities from the area. The stairs lead further into the cave. An aperture at the bottom leads to a shaft containing religious candles and coffee cups.
From the shrine, the view of Kruje and the valley is stunning. It is possible to view as far as the Adriatic Sea in clear weather.