Gjirokastër nestles on three hill-sides in the valley of the Drino River, in southern Albania.
Second only to Berat in terms of the number of its important historic monuments, it is the country’s most popular tourist destination.
The city is characterised by its grey slate roof-tops and its large, double vaulted, former upper middle-class houses. The city’s other main attractions are its confined, cobble-stoned bazaar-quarter, and rising above the city, the 18th century Citadella, which serves as the venue for the Albanian International Folkloric Festival.
The old-city and the castle-quarter owe their preservation to Enver Hoxha, who, declaring Gjirokastër a museum-city, thereby saved the old buildings from demolition. The old part of the city has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The house in which the former dictator, Enver Hoxha was born, now functions as an ethnographic museum. Other important buildings are the Bektashi Teqe, dating from 1727, and the St. Michael’s Church, dating from 1756.
Old Town, Gjirokaster
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