Atop the eastern side of mountain Mali i Gjéré sits the city of stone. And each one stepped on has a purpose, well, outside of making it quite a charming place to visit. Throughout decades of occupations and then dictatorship, the old town in Gjirokastér is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, from all the well-preserved history. SO, here’s where to go (I’ll leave the when up to you hehe):
Note: all the sites mentioned cost 200 LEK (~1.60 EUR) What to see: Bektashi Tomb, prison, Weapons gallery, Arms museum, and the Museum of Gjirokastér. Built in the 12th century, this fortress was turned into a prison in the 1930s (until 1968!) under King Zog I (ruler of Albanians) for those who resisted his reign.
Gjirokastër was home to the wealthy and aristocratic classes, so this house (+ Skenduli) are the houses of specific wealthy families during this time. Inside, you’ll find traditional clothing and objects specific to this city as well as the elaborate and well-detailed interior decor. Also, the ceremonial rooms for weddings, dining, bedrooms, and more! Here, you pay the owner upfront with free roam. And the views from the balcony are absolutely stunning!
Truthfully guys, this and the Zakete house are essentially the same thing so it’s totally reasonable to only spend 200 LEK visiting one. However, I would recommend this one as there is a tour guide included in the entrance fee. What’s better? The tour guide is either the owner or the owner’s daughter and she gives a unique perspective on the house as a result, along with tons of knowledge to share.
Let’s DEBUNK that MYTH !! This spot marks where the dictator, when Albania was communist, Enver Hoxha was born. However, his house burnt to the ground when he was a kid, then later on what was built became a propaganda museum celebrating a false perception of him [that he was amazing]. As that went to shit with the fall of communism, it turned into a museum showcasing traditional objects and dress of Gjirokastër specifically.
Bridge of Ali Pasha [photographed above]
PERFECT for wanting some time in nature, especially when with good friends or some needed solitude. The bridge is name after Ali Pasha of Telepenë, an Ottoman ruler over the Drino Valley. At first (early 19th century), he began the project as part of a larger, more complex aqueduct. From the Old Town in Gjirokastër, it’s roughly 30-45 minute walk depending on speed. And it’s free to visit!
Found on the right side of the main boulevard in the “new city” toward the end, once you start nearing the vodafone and Kastrati Gas Station. There is a lake by**** that is nice to cycle around on a sunny day (it’s quite cheap also!)
Now on to my favorite part: FOOD. Check out the best places to eat here.