GJIROKASTER, “THE CITY OF THOUSAND STAIRS”

Gjirokastra is a city in the south of Albania, which in 2005 was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It is a historic town and sits on the slopes of the Drino River valley, has magnificent scenery and is bordered by high mountains.

It is a historic town and sits on the slopes of the Drino River valley, has magnificent scenery and is bordered by high mountains.

It is known as the “City of a Thousand Stairs” and is characterized by Ottoman-style houses with stone roofs, wooden balconies and cobblestone streets. The historic castle of Gjirokastra is located on top of a hill. Gjirokastra has a troubled past and has been a center for Italian fascist invaders.

Its beautiful history has inspired many artists to create poems, songs, stories, etc. This stone city is known because it is a center of tourism development in cultural heritage. Cobbled streets are the traditional markets waiting for passersby to turn back in time. Next is the magnificent 13th century castle reminiscent of the time of medieval rulers and the times of communism. Also many characteristic houses have been turned into inns to welcome travelers and it is a very hospitable city.

Tourim has developed a lot after the 90s. Many foreigners visit Gjirokastra for the architectural values ​​of building houses with stone and wooden roofs. There are many private hotels like Hotel Kalemi, built in a characteristic old house. Other hotels: Hotel Çajupi, Hotel Freskia – Virua, Hotel Bleta, Hotel Dhima, Hotel The First, Hotel Qiqi, etc.

The tourist in Gjirokastra can visit the Historic Center with the Bazaar and its characteristic objects as well as the Castle where besides the Museum of Weapons it offers very beautiful views of the city from above. In Gjirokastra the visitor can also visit the Ethnographic Museum, Characteristic Houses of Zakat, Skendulates, Babametos, Kadare, Hani i Zagorise, Dulajve, etc.

In the Drino Valley there are several archeological sites where the most important are “Antigonea”, about 14 km from Gjirokastra and the Roman site of Adrianople in the 2nd century BC. near the village of Sofratike. The Paleo-Christian Churches of St. Mary Labove and Peshkepi are also impressive and of historical and architectural value.

CASTLE OF GJIROKASTER

Gjirokastër Castle is situated at a height of 336 metres (1,102 ft). The castle dominates the town and overlooks the strategically important route along the river valley. It is open to visitors and contains a military museum featuring captured artillery and memorabilia of the Communist resistance against German occupation, as well as a captured United States Air Force plane to commemorate the Communist regime’s struggle against the imperialist western powers. The citadel has existed in various forms since before the 12th century. Princess Argjiro inspired Albanian author Ismail Kadare in a poem he wrote in the 1960s. According to local Albanian folkloric traditions she lived in the 15th century and jumped off Gjirokastër Castle along with her child so as to avoid being captured by the Ottomans. Extensive renovations and a westward addition were added by Ali Pasha of Tepelene after 1812. The government of King Zog expanded the castle prison in 1932. Today it possesses five towers and houses, the new Gjirokastër Museum, a clock tower, two teke, a cistern, the stage of the National Folk Festival, and many other points of interest. The castle’s prison was used extensively by Zog’s government and housed political prisoners during the Communist regime. The castle is under protection from UNESCos. It is one of the 8 oldest neighborhoods of Gjirokastra, which stretches like a ray under the walls of the Castle. Gjirokastra Bazaar is under constant reconstruction due to its age and monumental status in the national and world heritage of Unesco.

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