Pustec

Pustec (Macedonian: Пустец) is one of the 61 municipalities of Albania, within Korçë County. Located in the southeastern fringes of the country, it contains all of Albania’s share of the Great Prespa Lake, as well as most of Prespa National Park which extends southward to Albania’s portion of the Small Prespa Lake in Devoll Municipality. Home to an entirely ethnic Macedonian population and the only place in Albania where the ethnic group enjoys full minority rights, Pustec is considered the centre of the Macedonian minority of Albania. It encompasses much of a region known amongst Macedonians as “Mala Prespa”, bordered by Greece to the east and by North Macedonia to the north and northeast.

The village of Pustec on Lake Prespa, with the island of Maligrad in sight

. . . Pustec . . .

Map of Pustec

The Municipality of Pustec is a rather isolated place within Albania. Its villages sit between Lake Prespa to the east and the mountain of Galičica to the west which largely cuts it off from the rest of the country. In fact, only one road connects it to the rest of Albania in the south. That same road connects Pustec to North Macedonia’s Prespa region in the north. Therefore, many of the area’s visitors come from that country and many of Pustec’s residents head to North Macedonia for various needs. Pustec also shares land and water borders with Greece but there are no means of crossing to that country from Pustec.

Pustec consists of nine villages including (from north to south): Tuminec, Gorna Gorica, Dolna Gorica, Glloboçeni, Shulin, Pustec, Leska, Zrnovsko, and Cerje. Note that the municipality is named after a village located within the municipality. Most of these villages’ names were officially changed to different Albanianised names in the 1970s but the original Macedonian names became official again in 2013. All of these villages, with the exception of Cerje, are located on or near Lake Prespa. Cerje is situated at the southeastern end of the municipality just inside the border with Greece. According to the 2011 census, virtually all of the municipality’s 3,290 residents are ethnic Macedonians and Orthodox Christians.

SH79 is the highway running roughly parallel to Albania’s portion of Lake Prespa. Getting into Pustec Municipality via car requires getting onto this highway either from the south or from North Macedonia in the north; SH79 is the only road linking Pustec to adjacent areas. Despite sharing a land border with Greece, there is no border crossing with that country within Pustec.

  • From the south, SH79 splits off from SH3/E86 at Zëmblak. If coming from Korçë, head northwest along this highway until reaching SH79. If coming from Bilisht, head northeast along it until getting to SH79. Once the path starts going uphill, you’re entering Pustec Municipality. Leska will be the first village reached. Head east to get to Pustec (or continue further south from there to get to Zrnovsko or Cerje) or continue north to reach the rest of the villages in Pustec.
  • There is a border crossing between Albania and North Macedonia at the Albanian village of Gorna Gorica and the Macedonian village of Stenje. R1307 is the road running on the Macedonian side up to the border. After passing Gorna Gorica, head east for Tuminec or continue south for the rest of Pustec Municipality.
An overlook at the side of a road in Pustec

. . . Pustec . . .

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. . . Pustec . . .