Shkodër is the fifth-most-populous city of the Republic of Albania and the seat of Shkodër County and Shkodër Municipality. The city sprawls across the Plain of Mbishkodra between the southern part of Lake Shkodër and the foothills of the Albanian Alps on the banks of Buna, Drin and Kir. Due to its proximity to the Adriatic Sea, Shkodër is affected by a seasonal Mediterranean climate with continental influences.
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Balkans, Shkodër was founded under the name Scodra upon the traditional lands of the Illyrian tribes of the Ardiaei and Labeates in the 4th century BCE. It has historically developed on a 130 m (430 ft) hill strategically located in the outflow of Lake Shkodër into the Buna River. The Romans annexed the city after the third Illyrian War in 168 BCE, when Gentius was defeated by the Roman force of Anicius Gallus.In the 3rd century CE, Shkodër became the capital of Praevalitana, due to the administrative reform of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. With the spread of Christianity in the 4th century CE, the Archdiocese of Scodra was founded and was assumed in 535 by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
Shkodër is regarded as the traditional capital of northern Albania, also referred to as Gegëria, and is noted for its arts, culture, religious diversity and turbulent history among the Albanians. The architecture of Shkodër is particularly dominated by mosques and churches reflecting the city’s high degree of religious diversity and tolerance. Shkodër was home to many influential personalities, who among others, helped to shape the Albanian Renaissance.
The earliest signs of human activity in the lands of Shkodër can be traced back to the Bronze Age. The favorable conditions on the fertile plain, around the lake, have brought people here from early antiquity. Artefacts and inscriptions, discovered in the Rozafa Castle, are assumed to be the earliest examples of symbolic behaviour in humans in the city.