Gjirokastër is the hometown of the famous Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. At the same time, it is next to Berat or Korcza one of the most beautiful places that you must see when going to Albania!
Gjirokastër located 50 kilometers from the southern resorts of Albania is the city most visited by tourists. It attracts with its mystery, but above all the unique stone architecture inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005. Of course, the old town, located in the upper part of the city, is unique. More modern buildings, blocks and smaller houses with gardens are located at the bottom near the main route to Greece.
The city’s climate attracts crowds of tourists every year. Charming stone streets, stalls with local products and extremely tasty cuisine are something that you cannot pass by indifferently. All these attractions are maintained in oriental style which allows us to instantly move to Ottoman times full of mystery and charm.
One of the attractions of Gjirokastër is a fortress that cannot be overlooked. Built on the highest of the hills it towers over the city and reminds you of a past power. Tourists can enter the one of the three preserved gates for a small additional fee – LEK 200, and then admire the magnificent exhibits and views of the city. The fortress dates from the Byzantine times, but its current shape is due to the expansion carried out on the orders of Ali Pasha of Tepelena in the nineteenth century. At first it was used as a military garrison, in communist times there was a prison.
While walking around the fortress, it’s worth visiting the Clock Tower – one of the city’s most characteristic motifs. We can find it on posters, postcards or even stone souvenirs created by local craftsmen. The exhibition of weapons from World War II is also very interesting.
What attracts attention are the characteristic tiles of the city. Made of hewn stones of regular shape, they shine in the summer sun with an unusual glow. If you want to discover the secrets of the city, be sure to devote to sightseeing at least all day. It is worth visiting the previously mentioned house (now a museum) of Enver Hodży, a nuclear shelter hidden under the city or an ancient aqueduct.
In Gjirokastër you will find many charming little hotels and hostels located in traditional stone houses. I especially recommend Stone City Hostel, where among international tourists you will feel really great.