Idea #257 – Visiting the Albanian town of Gjirokaster
Gjirokaster or Gjirokastra is a city of the South of Albania and the administrative centre of the prefecture of the same name. The site has been occupied from the Irst century B.C. The city began to develop around the castle around the XIIIth century. At the time of the Byzantine Empire, it was known under the name of Argyrópolis (“city of silver”) or Argyrókastron (“castle of silver”). In the XIVth century, the city was a part of the despotat of Epire, before passing under Ottoman dominion in 1417. It was conquered in 1811 by Ali Pasha, Albanian governor, who developed the defences of the city and made build a 10 kilometres long aqueduct, to supply the citadel with water. At the end of the XIXth century, the city became a centre of resistance in the Turkish dominion.
Habited by mainly Albanian people, but with a Greek important minority, Gjirokaster was widely claimed in the first half of the XXth century by the Greeks. In 1914, the city was proclaimed by the government Greek as capital of the autonomous State of North Epire, but its administrative position disappeared during the First World War. During the Second World War, the city passed under Italian control in 1939, then Greek in December, 1940 and German, but became again definitively Albanian in 1944.
The historic city of Gjirokastrer is a rare example of well protected Ottoman city, built by farmer-owners of big domains, around the citadel. The architecture is characterized by the construction of a type of houses with turrets, the Turkish “kule”, which stage sloping in the old districts of Mali i Gjerë; these houses which remind small grouped fortresses, contain generally a high ground floor, a first floor used in the cold season and the second floor serving for the warm season. The inside is decorated with rich ornamental details and with painted floral motives, in particular in reserved spaces, for the reception of the guests. The roof is covered with stone plates. The city is registered on the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
Where is it?