This paper discusses how visual representations contained in urban plans change during periods of rapid social, economic and political transition. It investigates the consequences of these transitions, focusing on the situation in Albania immediately after the fall of socialism. In doing so, the paper contributes to the academic literature on the implications of liberalization for planning, particularly in terms of the way in which plans are formulated, presented and employed. The authors contend that the visual representations and the written word both express and validate the perspectives of power holders and the dominating planning doctrines. Maps often contain hidden or subtle messages and agendas that are not immediately apparent to text readers. To fully understand the evolution of planning thought and practice in any place, texts and maps must be analysed in conjunction with each other.