The City That Sees: Sights and Stories in Berat, Albania’s Postcard Picture

In terms of population, business and infrastructure, Albania is very much a one-city country. Tirana is home to a significant portion of Albania’s population, and those who do not live there will undoubtedly work there or have other ties to this vast and all-encompassing city.

However, take a look at any travel or holiday guide or magazine featuring Albania and you will likely see a photograph of tiered white houses, windows staring back at you. This isn’t Tirana, this is a much smaller city less than 100 miles south out in the Albanian countryside. This is Berat.

“The City of a Thousand Windows”

Downtown Berat is comprised of what you would expect of any Balkan city, with cafes and restaurants occupying almost every residence on its streets, only dispersed with architecturally elaborate government buildings as well as modern religious churches and mosques to cater for the multitudes of faiths within this fascinating country.

However, the real postcard picture is to be found a few hundred yards down the river Osum, just before reaching the stone arched Gorica bridge. Berat is known as ‘The City of a Thousand Windows’ for this very spot. Looking over the river, the old town area of Berat will look back, seemingly deliberately, as the hundreds of primarily white houses with their large and numerous windows will all stare back as one. It’s a surreal site and makes for a terrific photograph.

This isn’t the only site to get such a magnificent shot of this landmark as Berat Castle, just up the hill from the city centre, offers a panoramic view that look down on this tremendous site.

Berat’s Ethnographic Museum

Much like almost every other major Balkan town, Berat has its obligatory, and absolutely fantastic, ethnographic museum. Found just off the cobbled road which leads up to Berat Castle, the old Ottoman-style house has orange trees on the lawn which can be seen baring fruit, even in December! What awaits inside is a unique selection of original rooms, garments and items that constituted traditional Albanian life. However, in some cases, these traditions are not as old as you might expect, with it not being uncommon to see photographs and examples from early 20th Century life in the country.

The lady who owns and runs this particular ethnographic museum says she was born within the castle complex residents. This says so much of how Berat continues to live within its history, and how the love and passion for this wonderful city still lives on within its residents, keep to share its stories and wander with those fortunate enough to have made the effort to visit.

To read more about our trip around Albania at Christmas in 2019, click here! Or, to see the full Berat photo gallery, click here.

Read more about Berat: Above Albania’s City of a Thousand Windows: Berat Castle

Where is Berat?

If you are interested in learning more about Albania, our friends at Inspire Me World Travel, who organised our trip to Berat, provide more information on their website, as well as flexible and customisable day or package tours, transfers and everything else you might need for a simple and fascinating stay in one of Europe’s hidden gems. Click here to find out more!

Article and images by Tom McBeth & Natasha Bryan

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To see the full, high-quality, watermark-free images from Albania, click here to visit our Shutterstock gallery.

    

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