Gjirokaster

Overview

Introduction

Like Berat, Gjirokaster is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also spared from communist-style building projects. The city's second name—the City of Stairs—refers to Gjirokaster's mountainous terrain and the stairs you have to climb to visit its impressive, fortress-style buildings.

The main attractions are the magnificent, snowcapped mountains that surround the city, which is 90 mi/145 km southeast of Tirana. Be sure to visit the 11th-century citadel, which has a stunning view of the countryside, as well as the interesting National Museum of Weapons that displays Albanian-made arms from ancient through modern times. The citadel was also a prison—you can read the records of the inmates.

Gjirokaster is the birthplace of dictator Enver Hoxha and author Ismail Kadare.

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