Let me take you to the city of ‘stone’, and its heart of gold.
Gjirokastër is located in the south Albania, close to Vlora and Saranda. It's 224 km away from the capital, Tirana, which is approximately a 3 hour and 30 minutes drive. A good way to get there is by bus or minivans (called Fugon); my tip is to take the bus because it's cheaper and the departures are on a fixed schedule.
Photo © Arkadivna
Upon arriving in Gjirokastër, you will see the remarkable old town and the beautiful castle, that will make you fall in love with the city at first sight. Comparing to other cities in Albania, this one is in fact quite small. Gjirokastër's old town has been declared an Unesco heritage site (along with Berat) since 2005. The "walkers" out there will especially love the typical, small stone roads that connect all the houses/attractions in a perfect harmony. So while in Gjirokastër, don’t forget your trainers- you will no doubt enjoy roaming through the city's narrow streets!
The Gjirokastër castle is one of the biggest castles that can be spotted in Albania and it was built during the 3rd century. It's also considered to be one of the oldest ones as well. The castle remains in good shape, and it’s an attraction not to be missed when you are exploring the city. Inside the castle, you will find the museum of weapons, opened in 1971. Weapons from the prehistoric times up to the World War II are exhibited on there. In addition, inside the fortress you may find the national folk festival, the biggest in the country, which is mostly held during summer. During the exploration you will notice that almost all the houses are made of stone; they look like small castles, rich in history and full of stories and legends. All of them were built during the 17th century and all together shape the city's old town.
In the old town, you will find the old bazaar, where you can buy some special handcrafts and traditional handmade souvenirs. Close to the bazaar an old mosque, built in 1557, can be visited and admired. Have a look at the former house of the dictator, which is now an ethnographic museum. During your walks, you can stop by one of the many restaurants and bars in town. Gjirokastër has a rich cuisine with some special dishes that will definitely give you a satisfying culinary experience!
Photo © Master2
During your stay in Gjirokastër, you will experience the "city's many faces"; from the old traditional town to the beautiful and stunning nature. Each one of those is of course a reason to enjoy this remarkable city.
Cover picture credits © Nachteule
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