"City of a Thousand Stairs" Top 5 Page for this destination Gjirokaster by illumina
Gjirokaster Travel Guide: 108 reviews and 268 photos
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.
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:Beautiful old town, with fascinating buildings
- Cons:Very steep slopes and lots of steps
- In a nutshell:Romantic mountain city
On the way to Gjirokaster, you'll see Hoxha's ubiquitous bunkers in lines all over the Drinos valley, a reminder of the... more travel advice
Sadly I didn't actually get to visit this mosque while I was in Gjirokastra, but I got a good view of it from the... more travel advice
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