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"City of a Thousand Stairs" Top 5 Page for this destination Gjirokaster by illumina

Gjirokaster Travel Guide: 109 reviews and 271 photos

Eagle on the mountainside

Gjirokastra, clinging to the slope of Gjere mountain (Mali i Gje:re:) above the valley of the Drin river, is one of the most beautiful cities in Albania. It is known as the town of a thousand stairs due to the steep inclines, and is also called the Stone City because of the attractive stone from which most of the houses are built. It is the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the communist dictator, and of author Ismail Kadare.

Museum City

Gjirokastra contains some 23 museums, of which my favourite was this Ottoman period tower house. Characteristic of the Balkan region, Gjirokastra contains a series of outstanding examples of typical tower houses (Turkish kule), a type of building which crystallized in the 17th century.

We were shown around by the owner, and a guide who translated for us. The house has been in the owner's family for over 200 years, and each floor is used during a different season of the year (the first floor in winter and the top, second floor in summer I believe). On each floor were two or three living rooms, with divans around 3 walls, and canopied fireplaces. At the back of the rooms were the women's galleries, where the female members of the family were supposed to conceal themselves, although our host explained that his family were more liberal and did not segregate their women.

One of the rooms at the top of the house was beautifully painted with eleborate designs on walls, ceiling, fireplace and on the wood of the door and gallery. The balcony afforded a magnificent view over the town and valley below.


Dominating the town is the 14th-century citadel, now a Museum of Armaments with a collection of old cannons and guns. In addition, the remains of an ancient American spy-plane, shot down in the 1950s, can be seen in the main yard of the fortress.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful old town, with fascinating buildings
  • Cons:Very steep slopes and lots of steps
  • In a nutshell:Romantic mountain city
  • Last visit to Gjirokaster: Sep 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (9)

Comments (9)

  • Avieira67's Profile Photo
    May 26, 2015 at 1:17 AM

    This is a lovely city. I want to visit it very soon!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    This certainly does look like a beautiful and romantic mountain city -- with a thousand stairs and 23 museums.

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2010 at 5:01 AM

    Graet page. I didnt have time to visit this place when i was in Albania. I shouldgo there next time. Bora

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    Hello, Joss! ><>< I see it's a wonderful place which I would be privileged to visit.... ><><><><><

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Oct 17, 2006 at 9:37 AM

    Seems a fascinating place.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Jun 13, 2006 at 7:35 AM

    Nice info. on a country I know little about. I see you've been very busy updating or adding new pages. Hope you will take a moment to look at & rate some of my own. Thx.

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2006 at 12:36 PM

    Very good page. I know that I will have to go to the ethnographic museum next summer! Thanks for the tips!

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2006 at 5:33 AM

    must rush now, buts likes good stuff here. i will check it out later

  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2006 at 1:34 PM

    absolutely fantastic photos from gjirokaster. thanks for showing us so many images from albania.


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