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Gjirokastra is inscribed as a rare examplea of an architectural character typical of the Ottoman period. Located in the Drinos river valley in southern Albania, Gjirokastra features a series of outstanding two-story houses which were developed in the 17th century. The town also retains a bazaar, an 18th-century mosque and two churches of the same period. This fortified historic centre is remarkably well preserved, and this is particularly true of its vernacular buildings. Gjirokastra has been continuously inhabited from ancient times down to the present day. Situated in the Balkans, in Southern Albania, and close to other historic centres, it bears witness to the wealth and diversity of the urban and architectural heritage of this region. Gjirokastra bears witness to a way of life which has been influenced over a long period by the traditions of Islam during the Ottoman period, while at the same time incorporating more ancient influences. This way of life has respected Orthodox Christian traditions which have thus been able to continue their spiritual and cultural development. Gjirokastra was built by major landowners. Around the ancient 13th century citadel, the town has houses with turrets (the Turkish kule ) which are characteristic of the Balkans region. Gjirokastra contains several remarkable examples of houses of this type, which date from the 17th century, but also more elaborate examples dating from the early 19th century. Gjirokastra maintains outstanding testimony to the diversity of urban societies in the Balkans, and to longstanding ways of life which have today almost vanished. The town planning and housing of Gjirokastra are those of a citadel town built by notable landowners whose interests were directly linked to those of the central power. Gjirokastra retains outstanding testimony to various types of monument and vernacular urban housing during the Classical Ottoman period, in continuity with the various Medieval cultures which preceded it, and in a state of peaceful coexistence with a large Christian minority. Source: www.unesco.org