Have you ever heard of Gjirokastër? This relatively unknown historic town is situated in southern Albania; on the eastern slope of the Gjerë mountains, overlooking the Drino River. Albania has been enjoying an increasing popularity among international travelers, and not without good reason. With beautiful valleys, mountains, forests and beaches, this charming Adriatic country is not only blessed with many excellent sites and trails, but is also home to the heritage and ancient relics of earlier civilizations.
Perhaps the most spectacular landmark in Gjirokastër is the fortress. The impressive stone monument overlooks the valley, marking the highest point in the center of the old town. Many travelers note being truly impressed with the amazing views of the valley that they see from the top of the fortress. Inside, there is a clock tower, a courtyard, a museum and –unexpectedly– a plane wreck with an interesting story!
The old town of Gjirokastër is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to a unique, well-preserved Ottoman town. Some of the traditional Ottoman style town houses are open to visitors. Inside, you can observe the sophisticated architecture that was designed with the lifestyle of the inhabitants in mind. The city was once a dynamic administrative center in the region, and the details in the design of the houses displays evidence of that: embrasures in between walls, leaded windows, elaborate door locks, formal reception rooms, storages, bunkers, and more. Famous figures from Albanian history –prominent government officials, merchants and philosophers– were among the previous residents.
During your visit to Gjirokastër, you can explore the old town and the fortress, hang out with the friendly inhabitants of the city, check out the local produce and handmade items in the Old Bazaar, and embark on a trekking trip to the nearby Nemerçka Mountains.
Not a very widely known travel destination, Albania has so much to offer to explorers. If you love nature and history, you are most likely to be impressed with Gjirokastër.
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