If you’re a history buff, a visit to Berat, Albania, situated in the south-central part of the country, is an absolute must. Known as the “city of 1,000 windows” due to its unique architecture characterized by a multitude of windows, Berat has been appreciated by many for centuries as a place where people from diverse cultural and religious groups have coexisted peacefully. Stroll through Berat and you’ll see Byzantine frescoes, towering mosques, and the ancient Berat Castle that is still teeming with life.
Berat is a striking city that rests on the slopes of the Tomorr Mountains. The city is home to numerous winding stone pathways. As you stroll, drying laundry lines the paths revealing magnificent lookout points where visitors can view stately mountains, ornate Ottoman and Byzantine architecture, and the mighty River Osum.
One of the most popular attractions in Albania is Berat Castle, a 13th-century fortress that overlooks Berat. The view from Berat Castle’s rampart walls is breathtaking. Historically occupied by Christians, Berat Castle is surrounded by stunning Byzantine frescoes and churches. The perimeter of Berat Castle is known as the Castle Quarter because so many current residents of Berat still live in the castle’s shadow. As you explore the stone corridors of Berat Castle, expect to hear locals talking, laughing, and herding sheep in the streets below.
The Ethnographic Museum of Berat features over 1,300 objects that are unique to the cultural heritage of Berat. The first floor features ornate articles of clothing, silver and bronze accessories, and textiles with gold accents. The rest of the museum displays historical recreations of rooms typical of Berat’s striking white houses. The museum showcases a porch where olive oil was made, a loom where clothing was produced, a guest room where visitors were greeted, and an open-air space known as the chardak where families gathered.
The Mangalem (or Muslim Quarter) is home to beautiful Ottoman architecture. The interior of the Bachelors’ Mosque, which was built around 1820, is adorned with colorful paintings. Catering to single young men who sought a wholesome house of worship, the Bachelors’ Mosque is relatively compact, with a slim minaret.
No trip to Berat is complete without participating in an evening xhiro, a traditional Albanian evening stroll. Xhiro is a tradition where locals stroll through the streets, chat, and enjoy dessert and coffee. It’s the ideal opportunity to enjoy Berat’s friendly, lively culture. No matter which streets you choose to explore, you’re guaranteed to encounter countless unforgettable vistas that span several centuries.