Administrative Unit Kastrat – Malësi e Madhe
The administrative unit of Kastrat is located in Northern Albania, on the border with Montenegro. The area of Kastrat is 133 km2, of which 57 km2 are covered by the mountains. It has a population of 11,800 inhabitants. The administrative territory of Kastrat is made up of the City of Bajza and the following villages; Ivanaj, Aliaj, Gradec, Hot, Jeran, Pjetroshan, Rapshë, Vukpalaj, Premal, Goraj-Budishtë, Kastrat, Bratosh.
The area of Kastrat is characterized by a heterogeneous landscape ranging from the shores of Shkodra Lake to alpine pastures. This large geographical extension makes it an area rich in diversified vegetation. Aquatic vegetation is mainly characterized by the following species: mullein and domestic reed, while on the lake shore willows and ash grow. In the pre-mountainous and mountainous areas some species of trees grow including spruce, oak, ash, thistle, cranberry, wild plum, wild cherry, common pear, wild apple, hazel, walnut. In addition to sage, the medicinal plants of this area are thyme, chamomile, marshmallow, poppy, salep, mountain tea, strawberry, violet and birch.
The administrative unit of Kastrat has good opportunities for tourism development. Different parts of its territory are rich in quite attractive natural beauties. The most favorable part for the development of tourism is the shore of Shkodra Lake and in particular Syri i Sheganit (Eye of Shegan) and Syri i Zi (The Black Eye) from which very cold water flows, as well as the part rocky mountain along a part of its coast mainly in the village of Gashaj. Water sports can take place here.
The traces of housing in the territory of the administrative unit of Kastrat date back to the period before the new era. Historical and archaeological sites such as those of Marshej Castle, the Shkurtaj cave, Bajrak cave, various tombs and many other points, as well as ethnological studies, clearly show the Illyrian origin of the inhabitants of this area, who stood out for being brave warriors and skilled war commanders. According to history, Kastrat is included in the Balshaj principality. According to one of the versions, the origin of Balshaj comes from neighborhoods located within Kastrati, such as the village of Balaj, Bajza or Balza. The same word Kastrat derives from the word that defines the place of wars and resistance as a castle, a fortress.
The history of Kastrat develops step by step with the establishment of the first school in 1901 in Bajza. And then we see the development of general education in other villages in the municipality. The church of Katund (of the Village) (Kastrat) in 1600, the church of Bajza in 1889 and the church of Brigje in 1800 made a great contribution to the cultural and social development of the municipality.