Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra, Albania

The Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra, located in Albania, are two of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, boasting unique architecture and rich culture that span centuries.


Berat, located in the central region of Albania, is a city with a long history stretching back to antiquity. The city, known as “The City of a Thousand and One Windows” due to its varied and colorful architecture, is one of the oldest cities in the region. The Medieval Town of Berat, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008, is an outstanding example of a well-preserved Ottoman historic town which has withstood the test of time. Within this historic center, visitors can explore the famous castle of Berat, which was built in the 13th century and is the largest fortification in Albania. The castle houses several museums, galleries and churches, allowing visitors to learn about the history and culture of the area.

Gjirokastra, situated on the slopes of the Drinos Valley in south-western Albania, has been a vibrant center of culture, commerce and crafts for centuries. The Historic Centre of Gjirokastra, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005, contains symbols of the city’s rich cultural traditions, such as the fortress, the many churches and mosques, and the characteristic stone-crafted houses. The Old Bazaar of Gjirokastra, in particular, stands as a unique example of traditional architecture, featuring many shops and workshops that have been passed down through generations.

Both Berat and Gjirokastra are also culturally significant due to their wealth of traditional music and folklore. Various folk festivals are held throughout the year in both cities, with celebrations such as the Berat Jazz Festival and the Gjirokastra Folk Festival. These festivals provide a platform for traditional Albanian music, dance and art to be shared with the world.

What makes Berat and Gjirokastra particularly impressive is the fact that they have managed to preserve their historic centers while still evolving and adapting to the needs of the modern day. The two cities offer a glimpse into the past, while also allowing visitors to experience the many changes and developments that have taken place over the years. Whether you’re looking to explore the ancient castle of Berat or appreciate the unique architecture of Gjirokastra, these two cities are sure to leave a lasting impression.