One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, this gorgeous, carefully preserved, peculiar-looking city is built on steep slopes where stone-roofed houses seem to be built on top of one another. The spirit of Gjirokastra has been captured in many novels written by the city’s most illustrious son, the renowned author Ismail Kadare. His home along with the childhood home of Enver Hoxha, Albania’s former communist leader, are only some of the many attractions of this city. Alongside Albania’s most beautiful traditional houses and the city’s famous limestone and shale paved roads, the city houses the Castle of Gjirokastra, one of the oldest in the Balkans! The “city of stone” offers a number of authentically rich culinary delights and memorable panoramas of the surrounding mountainous.
Our tour guide will come and pick you up at your hotel in Tirana at 8:00 am in the morning and we will drive for about 2.5 hours to Gjirokastra. Gjirokaster is a historical city, which is on the UNESCO heritage list. Walking through Gjirokastra gives you an insight into what the city was like during the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The city has typical stone houses and cobble stone streets. Therefore, Gjirokaster is also knows as the “stone city”. The city of Gjirokaster is known in Albania as a “museum city”, because it has beautiful historical buildings everywhere. It is a lovely city to stroll through. Then we will visit the Old Bazaar of Gjirokaster. The old bazaar is the traditional market place in Gjirokaster. The bazaar was originally build in the Middle Ages. There are a variety of craftsmen shops, souvenir shops and coffee houses along the Bazaar. You can buy handmade wooden pieces, handwoven rugs and delicate lace items. The street of the Bazaar is made of cobblestones and it set on a steep hillside. Then we head up to the Gjirokastra Castle. Gjirokastra Castle is a large fortress on the top of a hill in the city. The fortress has a spectacular view of the historical city and the traditional stone houses of Gjirokaster. It is one of the biggest hilltop castles in the Balkans and it dominates the city. The castle was originally build in the 12th century by the local Byzantine government. But it was renovated and additions were made during the Ottoman empire and the government of King Zog. From the 1930 onward, it was mainly used as a prison for people who were resistant against the government.
Then we will visit Skenduli House. Skenduli House is a highlight for visitors to Gjirokaster. It is an original family house, which is more than 300 years old. During your visit, you will get a unique insight into what life was like for a rich family during the Ottoman period. The house has 9 fireplaces, 6 bathrooms, 12 rooms, 44 doors, 64 windows and 4 hamam (Turkish baths). The house has been owned by the same family for generations. The family will show you around the house and tell you stories about it’s history. One of the highlights is the room used for wedding ceremonies, with beautiful stained glass windows, carved wooden ceilings and a fireplace decorated with pomegranates, which symbolize fertility. Then we will visit the Obelisk. The Obelisk is a monument located on the highest peak of the city of Gjirokaster. The monument is a symbol of education in the Albanian language. For many centuries, Albania was a part of the Turkish Ottoman empire. Therefore, education in the Albanian language was forbidden for a long period of time. The Obelisk monument is located near location of the first Albanian language school in Gjirokaster, which was opened in 1908. At the time it was very dangerous to open an Albanian language school, particularly for the teachers, who worked there. Since the Obelisk monument is located on the highest peak in the city of Gjirokaster, it has amazing views. You can see the old city and the typical stone houses below.
Return to Tirana..
Tour Itinerary: Gjirokastra, Full Day Trip from Tirana
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