Gjirokastra is built on the slope of a mountain and is known for its characteristic and narrow cobbled streets. The dwelling houses have the form of medieval towers consisting of a building ensemble with characteristic architecture. The castle of the city stands like a balcony over the city. It enables the visitors to enjoy a very beautiful landscape. The National Museum of Weapons is housed in the interior of the castle. TheAi?? weapons displayed there are date back to the ancient times.
Ai??GjirokastAi??r CastleAi??dominates the town and overlooks the strategic important route along the river valley. It is open to visitors and contains a military museum featuring captured artillery and memorabilia of the Communist resistance against German occupation, as well as a captured United States Air Force plane, to commemorate the Communist regimeai??i??s struggle against the imperialist powers. The castle was enlarged during the 19th and 20th centuries byAi??Ali PashaAi??ofAi??TepeleneAi??and the Government ofAi??King Zog. Today it possesses five towers and houses, a clock tower, a church, water fountains, horse stables, and many more amenities. The northern part of the castle was turned into a prison by Zogai??i??s government and housed political prisoners during the communist regime.
What to visit in Gjirokastra
The castle is open all year round (April to September 09:00 to 19:00, October to March 09:00 to 17:00 ).
The castle, which is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent structures of the city, sits on a rocky bluff with the city stretching out around it. Ai??It offers spectacular views of the Drino valley and surrounding mountains. Ai??The castle has undergone various additions and changes over the course of the centuries: The first major fortifications were built under the Despots of Epirus in the 12th and 13th centuries. Ai??After the Ottoman conquest of the late 14th century the most extensive improvements were made around 1490 by Sultan Beyazid II. Ai??From 1811, the Ottoman governor Ali Pasha of Tepelena added many elements, including the clock tower on the eastern side.Ai?? He also completed fortifying the full area of the bluff. Ai??In addition he built an aqueduct to bring water to the castle from distance of over 10 km from the surrounding mountains. Ai??Since Ali Pashaai??i??s time the castle has fallen into disrepair. Ai??In the 1930s it was redesigned as a prison by the Italians at the request of King Zog, and was closed in the 1960s.
Bektashi Turbe (tomb)
Situated to the right about 50m inside the main gate, you will see a small building tucked into the walls of the castle amidst a lovely garden. It contains the remains of two Bektashi Babas.
Turning left from the main entrance, you will enter a long gallery lined with artillery pieces. All of these guns were either abandoned by, or captured from, the Italian and German occupation forces during World War II. Ai??Within this gallery there is also a small Italian tank built by Fiat.
Originally opened in 1971, the National Museum of Armaments is located in what was once the part of the prison. Ai??The current displays cover Albanian arms from independence in 1912 to the end of World War II, and most of the museum is dedicated to the Partisan struggle against the Italian and German occupation forces from 1939 to 1944.
The entrance to the prison is in the first gallery of the National Armaments Museum. Completed in 1932, the prison was used by King Zogai??i??s regime followed by the Italian and German occupation forces during the Second World War, and finally the communist regime until 1968. Ai??The only part of the prison that is accessible to visitors was developed as a museum by the communist regime in the 1970s. Ai??You may also gain access to the roof of the prison, going up the ramp situated to the right of the main gate.
The American Airplane
The remains of a United States Air Force T33 Shooting Star are exhibited on the ramparts overlooking the city. Ai??The airplane was forced to land at Rinas Airport, near Tirana in December 1957 due to technical problems.
The stage was erected in the 1980s and has for some years been the home of the Albanian National Folk Festival, held every four years (last held in 2004). During the year the stage is used by the municipality on public holidays to present music and dance events.
This museum houses local home wares and was built on the site of Enver Hoxha’s former house, in the middle of the Old Town. Its collection is interesting if you’re a fan of local arts and crafts.
This incredible three-storey house dates from 1811 and has twin towers and a double-arched facade. It’s fascinating to nose around the almost totally unchanged interiors of an Ottoman-era home, especially the upstairs galleries, which are the most impressive.
The ‘Qafa e Pazarit’ makes up the center of the Old Town and contains artisan shops that support masters of the local stone- and wood-carving industries.