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Berat Snapshots

Berat, Albania
Bird’s Eye view of Gorica, a neighborhood in Berat
We had a smooth ride to Berat from Tirana and immediately drove up to the Citadel. We circled the hills to avoid the bus load of tourists who had just arrived at the castle gate. It was a good move as I got to see the lay of this beautiful land at the panoramic overlook before we started our walk around the castle grounds. It was quite an introduction!

Berat was my first sightseeing stop in Albania. It was only my second day and I hadn’t yet seen Tirana but my guide suggested we go to Berat before anything else. Needless to say, he was right! I was completely bowled over by everything that I saw; from the sweeping views of the lower town, to the lofty mountains that cradle the valleys, to the citadel and the surrounding stone houses and of course, the white Ottoman-era houses and its windows. These windows have given Berat its title, “town of a thousand windows”.

Gorica
Gorica was a Christian neighborhood across the Osum River during the Ottoman regime. Among the criterion noted by UNESCO about Berat is that while the Islamic traditions have influenced local way of life during the Ottoman period, “it has respected the Orthodox Christian traditions which have thus enabled them to continue their spiritual and cultural development”.

City center

The Osum River winds itself around town and you can follow its flow from Castle hill. In the distance, the Tomorri mountain range is a favorite for hikers and adventure enthusiasts.

Holy Trinity Church
This is a 13th century Orthodox Church perched high above the hill. It’s closed at this time for renovations. Can you imagine what it was like to go up there to attend a service especially on rainy days or if you had knee problems?

St. Michael’s Church 
See what I mean about what it’s like to go to church in these hills?

Gorica Bridge
This is an Ottoman bridge originally built in wood in 1780 and rebuilt in stone in 1923. 

Ura e Varur Bridge over the Osum river
This is a new pedestrian bridge that connects the old town with the Gorica neighborhood.

Berat
The houses in the historic center cascade down the steep hillside to the riverfront. It has been called the “town of a thousand windows” for obvious reasons. For its unique and well preserved vernacular architecture from the Ottoman period, Berat was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008. 

Berat, Albania
Berat

Fresh perspective of the famous windows and the Citadel from Bulevardi Republika 

Crenellated fortifications of the Citadel 
The Citadel or Berat Castle has existed since the Roman era. The castle was rebuilt in the 5th, 6th and 13th centuries. A succession of occupiers held court here including the Byzantine Empire, the Muzaka family and the Ottoman Empire. Many of the current day ruins are from the 13th century.

Berat Castle ruins

Berat Castle ruins

The minaret (tower) is part of the ruins of the former Red Mosque

Castle fortifications

The Kalaja neighborhood lies within the castle walls


A cannon and a poppy

Note how deep the wall is

These cobble stone streets are steep and challenging to navigate 

Former vacation house of Enver Hoxha
How to get there: 
I took a private tour with Albania on tour with Eddy. As a solo traveler, it’s often difficult to reserve a tour for one person. There are group tours of major cities as well as hop on hop off tours that a single traveler can join but when you’re sightseeing outside the big cities, it has been my personal experience that tours are harder to get and sometimes canceled after payment. I was glad a friend recommended Eddy to me and I was able to travel extensively and comfortably in Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo. You may reach Eddy through WhatsApp 355 69 919 9085. Or contact him by email at edisonfejzulla1@gmail.com.

If you want to go to Berat on your own, you can take a bus from Tirana. Check rome2rio.com for more information.

Note: The castle is at the top of the hill and buses will drop you off a little distance from the entrance. You’ll have to walk up a little bit to get to the entrance. It was great to have Eddy as my guide because he dropped me off just outside the entrance so I didn’t have to climb up the hill. I had bad knees.

What to eat:
My guide, Eddy, thoughtfully bought me this walnut roll called llokum me arra from a bakery in the city center of Berat. It’s similar to a Turkish delight but this one is rich with walnuts. 

Llokum me arra
Albania travel essentials: 
Albania requires no visa for U.S. citizens for stays up to one year. Passport is required with at least 3 months of remaining validity. Check this link for current information: https://al.usembassy.gov/entering-and-residing/
Currency is lek. The exchange rate as of this writing is $1=93.45 lek.
Electrical outlet: standard voltage is 230 volts and frequency is 50 Hz. You’ll need a Type F electrical plug. 

Stay connected

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie 
 

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