2400 years old museum city
Berat is one of the most interesting attractions that Albania offers. Otherwise it is known by the name “the city of 1001 windows” or even the White City.
This 2,413 years-old city, the pride of Albanian architecture is a UNESCO site Since 2005. Berat is located 120 km from Tirana. The city forms a wonderful combination of eastern and western cultures, costumes, traditions and outlook. Berat is a treasure-trove of Albanian history and culture.
The city’s life began in the 6th-5th century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the 3rd century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. The castle expanded afterwards, particularly during the feudal dominion of the Muzakaj family. Inside the castle, they built churches with valuable frescoes and icons, and also a calligraphy school. Uniquely today, residents still live inside of the castle walls. The three major neighborhoods of the old city are Mangalemi, Gorica, and Kala, where the castle itself is located.
What to visit?
The number of monuments and interesting places and things to do in Berat is outstanding.
In Mangalemi, below the castle, you can see the famous view of the facades of the houses, with windows that seem to stand above each other. In general, a traditional house has two floors, where the second is prominent and has many cambered windows and wood carvings. With its houses built along the steep hill, the view of Mangalemi is the reason that another name for Berat is the City of the Floating Windows.
The arched bridge of Gorica, built in 1780, is a beautiful architectural monument constructed to link Gorica with Mangalemi.
The ensemble of the Byzantine churches in the castle of Berat is extraordinary. At the foot of the castle, there is the Byzantine Church of Shën Mëhilli, while the 13th century Church of Shën Maria e Vllahernës , the Church of Shën Triadha and Cathedral of Shën Maria.
The Cathedral of Shën Mëria houses a museum of works by the famous iconographers of the 16th century: Onufri, and his son, Nikolla. There are over 100 icons on display and they also include works of other artists such as Joan Çetiri, Onufër Qiprioti, and many anonymous painters.
The Onufri Iconography Museum (Muzeu Kombëtar Ikonografik Onufri) was established to protect the icons, artworks and artefacts.
You also can visit the Monastery of Shën Spiridhoni (Saint Spyridon) in Gorica. In 1417, the Ottomans occupied Berat and this conquest left its mark with the building of monuments to the Islamic faith, such as the Xhamia e Kuqe (Red Mosque) inside the castle, the Xhamia e Plumbit (1555), the Xhamia e Beqarëve (Celibataires Mosque)(1872) in Mangalem quartier but also Xhamia Mbret (King Mosque) (16th century), and the Halveti Tekke or Tariqa in the medieval center . Other sites worth visiting are the Ethnographic Museum, situated inside an 18th century çardak buildin.
In addition, Berat traditional dishes are well known. It is worth tasting pula me përshesh and çorba e Tomorrit in the local restaurants. We suggest to visit the Saint Mountain of Tomorr.
Moreover, don’t forget to go for a xhiro (walk) at the main Boulevard Republika.
Finally, for those loving the adventure don’t forget the amazing Osumi Canyons, Albania’s largest canyon.
If you want to learn more about Albania, visit http://albania.al/.