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ALBANIA


Location - South east Europe; Capital - Tirana; Population - 2.9 million; Currency - Lek MORE ALBANIA

Head south from Tirana to two hilltop fortress cities which have stunning valley views below, Berat and Gjirokastra - April 2018.

 

albanianote3A 200 Lek note. Shqiperise means Albania in Albanian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania269Berat is known for its Ottoman houses perched on the hillside below the castle

 

albania272It's also called the 'City of a Thousand Windows' - Berat

 

albania303The narrow cobbled streets of the Mangalemi district - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania299The easiest way to transport your luggage. Though not for horses.. - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania311From Mangalemi it's a steep, steep walk up the hill to Berat Castle - Berat

 

albania312Recovering in a cafe with lovely mountain scenery - Berat

 

albania322Several churches lie within the citadel grounds. This is the 13th century Holy Trinity, with great views of the river valley below - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania356Cloth for sale near the Onufri Museum - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania355The entrance to the 13th century citadel - Berat

 

albania353For me this is the main draw - the brilliant views of the city and surrounding moutains - Berat

 

albania341The Osumi River runs parallel to the main nightlife street in Berat, the Boulevard Republika - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania329On the opposite side of the Osumi River is the Gorica quarter, where I stayed in an excellent hostel - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania280My hostel room view. On the right is St Spyridon's Church while across the river is the castle hilltop providing the photo viewpoints above - Berat

 

albania360A close-up of the castle wall viewpoint displays a familiar name, Enver - Berat

 

albania275The 13th century St Michael's Church sits precariously on the castle hillside, below the viewpoint - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania281The Gorica quarter - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania286aWhitewashed buildings of the Gorica quarter - Berat

 

albania287Gorica is a quiet area comprised solely of cobbled streets, pathways and steps - Berat

 

albania291 Gorica bridge links Gorica to the rest of Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania262aFishing for supper on the Osumi River - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania292The ice and river-eroded mountain grooves above Berat

 

albania294Snow-capped mountains provide the backdrop - Berat

 

albania361Boulevard Republika is the ideal place for alfresco dining and a few drinks - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania363And even more so in the evening - Berat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania367Mr & Mrs Plantpot outside a florist near Boulevard Republika - Berat

 

albania370More snow-capped mountains on the bus ride from Berat to Gjirokastra

 

albania436One of the traditional 19th century homes dotted around Gjirokastra, several of which are open to the public

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania387Looking down on the old town rooftops from the castle - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania374World War II cannons line the entrance to the castle - Gjirokastra

 

albania392Walking the castle grounds to the clock - Gjirokastra

 

albania394The clock tower has a magnificent mountainous backdrop - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania395Just like Berat there's great valley and mountain scenery - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania383See all of Gjirokastra before you from the castle

 

albania388One of the best known traditional homes is Zekate House - Gjirokastra

 

albania390 Looking a little out of place is an American Air Force jet downed in 1957. Albania claimed it was a spy plane while the US say it strayed into Albanian airspace. Mmmm.. - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania400The castle prison was used by the Nazis during WWII - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania403In 1944 500 prisoners were held here in just 50 cells by Nazi Germany - Gjirokastra

 

albania404Pointing always reminds me of North Korea's Kim dynasty, who loved doing it; it must be a communist thing - Gjirokastra

 

albania421The birthplace of communist dictator Enver Hoxha on 16 October 1908 is now the Ethnographic Museum - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nearby Enver Hoxha's name appears alongside numbers 1908 and 16, and what looks like the word for 'legendary' - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania423Wander around Skendulaj House, which dates back to the early 18th century and was formerly the Etrhnographic Museum - Gjirokastra

 

albania427Check out much of Gjirokastra's new town from Skendulaj House

 

albania432More traditional architecture in the old town centre - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania408 Unlocking the gate to the town hall air-raid shelter, also known as the Cold War tunnels - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania413Much of the extensive tunnels lie beneath the castle, and were linked to both the municipal and communist offices above ground - Gjirokastra

 

albania416Original signs for each department still adorn the doors, which if memory serves me, has an interrogation room. There's also evidence of the 1997 riots that occurred throughout Albania following the collapse of financial institutions known as the Pyramid Crisis - Gjirokastra

 

albania417Local goverment and communist party staff would have lived and worked in the shelter - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania434 The panorama from outside the tunnels, next to the Socialist Party offices - Gjirokastra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania439I didn't get to the Blue Eye Spring but the azure colour of the nearby spring water is obvious - Gjirokastra to Saranda

 

albania441 I was lucky enough to get a hotel room with this view of Saranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania447The fainter hills across the Ionian Sea are from the Greek island of Corfu - Saranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania446The Ionian Sea, though I still call it the Mediterranean - Saranda

 

albania448The best place for a drink is Pizzeria Limani which spreads itself across the small harbour - Saranda

 

albania451The city centre's main beach - Saranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania454Saranda is a lively coastal town out of season compared to the beach resorts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania455I read somewhere that Albanian buildings in the middle of construction often have dolls attached to them for good luck, or to ward off bad luck/evil. Any more info on this, or is this one just a little unfortunate? - Saranda

 

albania458Memorje 78 is a communist era concrete pillbox bunker - Saranda

 

albania461You can walk inside the bunker and see what view you'd get through the grille - Saranda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania464A short bus ride south of Saranda are the ruins of World Heritage Site Butrint, spanning the 4th century BC all the way to the 19th century AD

 

albania467The theatre dates back to at least the 2nd century BC, if not earlier - Butrint

 

albania469Meeting another visitor - Butrint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania471Apparently the baptistery boasts an impressive mosaic floor but they're usually covered in sand to protect them from the weather - Butrint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania477Butrint has a beautiful setting on Lake Butrint, which flows into the Ionian Sea through the Vivari Channel

 

albania485A mere 2km away from Butrint is the Greek island of Corfu, while the very faint building that can just be seen at the mouth of the Vivari Channel is known as Ali Pasha's Castle

 

albania487Take the cute old cable ferry across the Vivari Channel - Butrint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania489The Venecian triangular fortress lies opposite the main Butrint site - Butrint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania492The double-headed eagle appears on the Albanian flag - Butrint

 

albania494A couple of kms north of Butrint are the lovely beaches of Ksamil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania498Ksamil comprises several beaches, sandy bays and rocky inlets, all surrounded by turquoise waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania504Several cafes, restaurants and hotels line the Ksamil coast

 

albania505Lone boat on a shimmering sea, my favourite - Ksamil

 

albania507The mountains on the right belong to Corfu - Ksamil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

albania509Like much of the Albanian coast Ksamil suffers from overdevelopment but sections are still very picturesque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Website and content Copyright © 2008-2018 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.

 

LINKS

http://albania.al - tourist info

http://albaniatourism.info

www.tiranatimes.com - Tirana Times newspaper, in English

www.visit-tirana.com - Tirana tourist info

 

I am not responsible for the content of external websites.

 

 
 
 
   
 
   
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