The Museum – City of Gjirokastra is built on the eastern side of Gjere Mountain. Since 2005, part of the UNESCO world heritage, the origin of the city starts with the castle of Gjirokastra, built in IV century. The city was named Argyrokastro, in 1336. In 1417, it was conquered by the Ottoman army. The city reached its peak over 1800-1830, when monumental assembly houses were built. The first neighborhoods are those of Bazaar and Hazmurate.
The main characteristic of Gjirokastra is the intensive use of stone in building the houses, which look like small fortresses, the streets of cobblestone, which all lead to Bazaar. You can also visit the Mosque of Bazaar here, built in 1557. Due to all these features, Gjirokastra is also known as the “The Stone City”. The most important structure of the city is the castle, which is the biggest castle in Albania. Inside the castle, you can visit the Museum of Weapons, opened in 1971. Weapons from the prehistoric times up to the World War II are exhibited on here. The National Folk Festival has taken place in this castle during the years.
During your stay in Gjirokastra, you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, located in the house where the former communist dictator Enver Hoxha was born. This house (today a museum) is located in the Palorto quarter. You can also visit the house of Zekat family in Palorto, in a dominating position, which has undergone restoration. It is one of the most magnificent and characteristic buildings of Gjirokastra. Built in 1811-1812, it is a magnificent three-floor building and has two twin towers. A special feature of the house is the wooden carved ceilings and the characteristic guest room. From the wooden balcony in the third floor, you can enjoy an impressive view of Gjirokastra. In the neighborhood Varosh is situated the home where the prominent contemporary writer Ismail Kadare was born. He has been several times a candidate to win the “Nobel Prize” for literature, and has been honored with other international prizes and awards as the “Legion of Honour” by the French state, “Man Booker International Prize” for 2009, “Prince of Asturias” for arts by the Spanish state. His works have been translated into many foreign languages. His house has been restored and is at the guests disposal.
In the center of the city, in Çerçiz Square is the entrance to “Atomic Bunker”. This is an object that belongs to the Cold War period and was built to provide protection from any possible nuclear attack. In recent years this object has been considered of interest by tourists in Gjirokastra..
The town of Gjirokastra is also known for its culinary art; we can mention special dishes like pasha qofte, shapkat, oshaf with dried figs (a dessert with sheep`s milk, sugar and dried figs), etc. In Gjirokastra you can visit interesting sites, part of the cultural heritage as well as natural wonders.
The archaeological park of Antigone is located near Saraqinishte village in the region of Lunxhëria, east of Gjirokastra. It is 14km away from Gjirokastra. The archeological park has a surface of 92 hectares and was founded by King Pyrrhus of Epirus in 295 B.C., who named the town after his first wife, Antigone. At the end of III century and the beginning of II century BC, it grew into an important economic, cultural and political center and took the form of a state (polis). It was surrounded by walls, 4,000 meters long. There are many attractions to be visited in the archaeological park Antigone such as: the mosaic, columns, promenade, an antique scale, the surrounding walls, etc.
In the village of Labove e Kryqit, located near the small town of Libohova, you can visit one of the oldest and the most beautiful Byzantine churches in Albania, dedicated to St. Mary. It is built in a style similar to that of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It was thought that the church used to have a relic, which is missing now. It was part of the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified.
The ancient theatre of Adrianapol is located near the village of Sofratika, 14 km away from Gjirokastra, along the Gjirokastra – Kakavije (Greece) highway. The Adrianapol amphitheater was discovered by the Austrian archaeologist Prashniker. It dates back to the II century B.C; it has a capacity of 4,000 seats and has 27 stairs.
Cajupi’s field lies in Lunxheria area, which is 1,310 meters above sea level; it is a flat area, which is used as climatic resort and surrounded by many sources of cold water. The road to reach this mountain destination is paved.
ISO – POLYPHONY
Iso-polyphony is an epic form of the oral art of singing in Albania, which has its origin since antiquity. Since November 25, 2005, it is part of the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, protected by UNESCO. It is present today in southern Albania, specifically in the provinces of Gjirokastra, Tepelena, Vlora, reaching its peak on the Ionian coast, Himara and the surrounding villages. In different areas it is sung and has different intonations. Even within the city of Gjirokastra it is sung differently, according to its neighborhoods. A good opportunity to hear such live performances are various cultural activities held in Albania, where we can mention the Folklore Festival of Gjirokastra, which normally takes place every four years.
In addition to this great activity, various iso-polyphony festivals are also organized in the city of Vlora, or even the festival called Bylis Fonia, which takes place in the ancient city of Bylis.

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Comments

March 23, 2019
Hi there! Such a good short article, thank you!

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