At a height of 336 metres, in one of Albania‘s most charming cities, a castle rich in history can be visited. Gjirokaster is in Southern Albania, a mere 30 kilometres from the Greek border. Its old town is also an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Gjirokaster’s castle was built in the 12th century by the Despots of Epirus. Different parts of the castle were added during the Ottoman Empire, especially thanks to the governor Ali Pasha from Tepelene, and in the 1930s, when King Zog ruled over Albania.
Firstly, one can overlook, from the hill in which the castle is located, the Drino river and the valley in which Gjirokaster is situated. To enter the castle, which is open all year round (April to September 09:00 to 19:00, October to March 09:00 to 17:00), one must pay only 200 leke (1,47€ or $1.60 USD).
What can you see inside? Firstly, a wide range of Italian and German artillery used during World War II. There is even an Italian FIAT tank! There are also Albanian armaments dating from independence, which was obtained in 1912, to the end of World War II.
There are even two Bektashi tombs. The Bektashi is a dervish order created in the 13th century.
There are many chambers to be explored, as well as an outdoor impressive stage used for the Albanian National Folklore festival and music events. There is something that is even more out of the ordinary though in the outdoor section: a United States Air Force T33 Shooting Star which had to land in 1957 in Albania due to technical problems.
Lastly, the prison cells used to lock up Albanian political prisoners during the Communist regime can be visited as well.
I warmly suggest you to visit this Castle (I’ve been there myself) as you will not be deceived by what you will see!
Featured Photo: Flickr/orientalizing