Ermak Travel Guide

 

 

Berat Castle

Berat Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips

 

Description of Berat Castle

Berat Castle  Berat Castle

Location: Berat, Berat County
Constructed: current citadel is largely from the 13th century construction under Despot of Epirus, Michael Angelus Comnenus
Entrance Fee: free

Lodging and Hotels:
Berat Backpackers
295, Gorica, Berat, Albania
Tel. (+355) 693064429

 

Berat Castle is a massive medieval citadel situated above a village of Berat in the Berat County. You can get here by taking a bus from Tirana that lasts for 3 hours. The entrance fee to the Berat Castle is free. It contains several mosques and Christian churches including Church of Saint Mary, the largest in Berat Citadel.

The strategic location of the castle have seen several military fortifications on the same spot. Earliest citadel built here was a wooden fortress of the Illyrian chieftain in the 4th century BC. During Roman invasion castle was burned down by the advancing army and subsequently reconstructed. It was strengthened by Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II in the fifth century and another reconstruction was undertaken by Emperor Justinian I in the sixth century. However much of today's appearance Berat Castle owes to Despot of Epirus, Michael Angelus Comnenus, cousin of the Byzantine Emperor who increased the size of the defences in the 13th century. Besides numerous churches also contains remains of the Muslim mosque that served Turkish garrison stationed here after local lands were conquered by the Ottomans.

 

 

 

Berat Castle

Berat Ethnographic Museum
Entrance Fee: 200 leke
Tel. 032 32 224
Open: winter: 9am- 4pm Tue- Sat, 9am- 2pm Sun
summer: 9am- 1pm and 4- 7pm Tue- Sat, 9am- 2pm Sun

Ethnographic Museum is situated below the walls of the Berat Castle in the 18th century Ottoman house. It contains a large collection of traditional Albanian clothes, tools and other items used by everyday people. You can get a brochure and a guided tour around the Ethnographic Museum.

Berat Onufri Museum
Entance Fee: 200 leke
Tel. 032 32 248
Open: winter: 9am- 4pm
summer: 9am- 1pm and 4- 7pm
Closed: Mondays

Onufri Museum is a museum of local arts and history. It is situated in the church of the Dormition of Saint Mary (Kisha Fjetja e Shen Merlse). Before the country was conquered Kala region of Berat was predominantly Christian neighbourhood, however forceful conversion forced many Christians either to convert to Islam or to flee the village. During Medieval period Berat had over 20 churches, but after the conquest of Ottoman army most of them were destroyed. This church was one of the few exceptions. It houses a collection of art work through out much of the year, but occasionally it is used for Christian service.

 

Mangalem old town area (Below the Kala, south of the river). a traditionally Muslim area
Gorica old town area (Below the Kala, north of the river). A traditionally Christian area.

Numerous Byzantine Churches, dating from the 13th century.
St Mary church (Kisha e Shën Mari Vllahernes), next from Rrugica Panajot Haxhimihali (within the Kala). St. Mary of Blachernae Church.
Church of St Demetrius (Kisha e Shën Mitrit) (within the Kala).
Church of St. Theodore (Kisha e Shën Todrit) (Kala northern part).
Church of St. Sophia (Kisha e Shën Sofisë) (within the Kala). edit
Dormition Cathedral (Center of the Kala). Dormition of St. Mary Cathedral.
Holy Trinity Church (within the Kala). Holy Trinity Church.
Saint Michael Church (Kisha e Shën Mëhilli), Rruga e Shën Mëhilli. St. Michael's Church.
Cathedral of St. Bitri (Katedralja e Shen Bitrit), Rruga Antipatrea and Rruga Rilindja corner.

 

Several Mosques from the Ottoman era (starting from 1417).
Sahatit Mosque (Clock Mosque, Xhamia e Sahatit), Rruga Xhamia e Sahatit.
Kuqe Mosque (Red Mosque, Xhamia e Kuqe), Rrugica Mbrica (South part of the Kala).
Bachelors' Mosque (Xhamia e Beqareve), Rruga Antipatrea.
Mbret Mosque (King Mosque, Xhamia Mbret), Rruga Mihal Komnena.
Tekke of Helveti (Teqeja e Helvetive). Halveti Teqe
Lead Mosque (Xhamia e Plumbit), Rruga Gaqi Gjika. Lead Mosque.

Further afield
Tomorri Mountain (Parku Kombëtar Mali i Tomorri) (20 km east of Berat. Can be reached with 4x4 vehicles). A national park. - At mountain peak a Bektashi Temple is located
Bogova Waterfall (Ujëvara e Bogoves), Bogovë village (30 km south of the city, between Berat and Corovode.).
Osumi River Canyon (58 km south of Berat. Skrapar District). One of the most beautiful rivers in Albania passing through canyons as high as 100 meters. Outdoor Albania offers a 3 hour rafting experience inside the canyons.

 

 

History

After being burned down by the Romans in 200 B.C., the walls were strengthened in the 5th century under Roman Emperor Theodosius II to protect from Barbarian incursions into the Balkans. They were subsequently rebuilt during the 6th century under the Emperor Justinian I and again in the 13th century under the Despot of Epirus, Michael I Komnenos Doukas, cousin of the Byzantine Emperor. This last phase can be seen as a Monogram formed by red bricks set in a wall of the castle. The castle was under the rule of John Komnenos Asen in the mid-14th century The main entrance, on the north side, is defended by a fortified courtyard and there are three smaller entrances.

The fortress of Berat in its present state, even though considerably damaged, remains a magnificent sight. The surface that it encompasses made it possible to house a considerable portion of the cities inhabitants. The buildings inside the fortress were built during the 13th century and because of their characteristic architecture are preserved as cultural monuments. The population of the fortress was Christian, and it had about 20 churches (most built during the 13th century) and only one mosque, for the use of the Turkish garrison (of which there survives only a few ruins and the base of the minaret). The churches of the fortress were damaged through years and only some have remained.

Berat Castle is depicted on the reverse of the Albanian 10 lekë coin, issued in 1996, 2000 and 2013

 

 

 


 

Transportation

Get in
Take a Furgon/Van from Tirana to Berat (cost: 500 lek). From other towns make a connection via Fier (200-250 lek). Buses also run from Tirana to Berat (cost: 400 lek). To Sarandë (via Gjirokastër), departs 8AM and 2PM daily, 6 hours (1000 lek). Buses to major towns in Albania from Berat. Check the board at the bus station for destinations and departure times.

Get around
The town is small enough to be toured by foot. Taking a walk on the footpaths of the old town is a must!

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Accommodation is mainly in the form of private rooms as many traditional house owners have turned their localities into B&B. Hotels are also available.

Berat Backpackers, Rruga Nikolla Buhuri 295, Gorica, ☎ +355 693064429. Berat's hostel. Prices from 1350LEK
Hotel Mangalemi, Mangalem District, ☎ +355 32 232 093.
Hotel Nasho Vruho, Rr. Llambi Guxhumani, Mangalem District, ☎ +355 32 232355.
Lorenc Guesthouse & Hostel, Stiljano Bandilli Road, Porta 18 (cross the old bridge of Gorica, there is the square Alfred Gimitiku and you will see the Road), ☎ +355 696337254. Nice private guesthouse in an old quarter of Gorica. It's run by Lorenc and his mother, feels like home. €12.
Hotel Palma, Rruga Santa Lucia (across the street from the Bachelors' Mosque, near the bridge), ☎ +355 32 232143. Comfortable air-conditioned room with king size bed for €30 per night, buffet breakfast included. Some of the staff speak English.

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Rice with turkey-cock (Pilaf me kaposh deti)
Mont Blanc pastry named after the white peak of Tomorri Mt
Try the delicious figs and olives of the area.

 

There is a traditional restaurant just inside the Kala area that does very good food.
Guva Mangalem Hotel-Bar-Restaurant, Rruga Llambi Guxhumani, e-mail: info@guvamangalem.com. Average. - Rooms: Air Conditioning, Room Service, Internet, Bathroom
Ajka Restaurant (across the Osum River). Delicious food with an excellent view.

Drink
Try traditional Raki made from walnuts (Raki me arra), and peculiar juice made from roses.
Cobo Winery. Features locally made wine and a winery tour.

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

 

 

Interesting information and useful tips

Buy
Traditional souvenirs include stone carving, wood cheeping, and textile products.