Sari Salltik's Shrine – Kruje, Albania - Atlas Obscura

Sari Salltik's Shrine

Kruje, Albania

A temple dedicated to the 13th-century Alevi Turkish dervish credited with bringing Islam to the Balkans. 

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Road Rruga e Malit heads north from the center of Kruje and climbs the steep slopes of Mount Mali i Krujes for seven kilometers just to come to a sudden stop. Apart from the occasional restaurant, no other buildings can be found along the way. This is a road that was made for one reason only, namely to lead to the shrine known as Sari Salltik. To avoid confusion, Sari Salltik is a religious figure from the 13th century, but it is also the name of a shrine in honor of Sari Salltik.

Much in the way of historical information about Sari Salltik is missing, inaccurate, or unreliable. For example, his date of birth is not known, and his place of birth is contested. According to different sources, he is believed to have been from modern-day Uzbekistan or Crimea. The ancient Turkic books by the name of Oğuzname report that in 1261, Sari Salltik was in the Romanian region of Dobruja, but with contradictory information regarding the political status of the region. Even his death is not devoid of mystery. It is known that Sari Salltik died in the Romanian town of Babadag either in 1297 or in 1298, and his remains were placed in seven coffins. Nowadays, the shrine in Kruje is only one of several locations that claim to be his final burial place.

The Sari Salltik shrine is located in a cave not far from where the road ends. A steep set of stairs leads to a landing where a bust of Sari Salltik is located. Facing the bust is a metal structure with chains and hooks used for animal sacrifice. To the far end of the landing is a fountain in the shape of a ram. Inside the cave, there is a small hexagonal shrine and the tomb of Sari Salltik, alongside tombs of other prominent religious figures from the area.  The stairs continue deeper into the cave. At the very bottom, an opening leads to a shaft where devotional candles and coffee cups can be found.

The view of Kruje and the valley from the shrine is breathtaking. In favorable weather conditions, it is possible to see as far as the Adriatic Sea.

Know Before You Go

For the more outdoorsy types, Sari Salltik can be reached from Kruje by following a mountain trail that is rumored to have been used by none other than the Albanian national hero Scanderbeg to bring supplies to Kruje Castle.

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September 14, 2022

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