Gjirokaster Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by jorgejuansanchez
  • Things to Do
    by jorgejuansanchez
  • Things to Do
    by jorgejuansanchez

Most Recent Things to Do in Gjirokaster

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    Tourist Guide

    by Avieira67 Updated May 2, 2015

    When I travel, I like to make my own itineraries and to use the public transportation to move around. In small cities, I just walk to visit the main tourist attractions.
    When I was in Gjirokastër, this polite man, a former professor of Russian language, nowadays retired, approched me and offered me his service as a tourist guide. As I had already visited the city, I had to decline the offer. Anyway, I invited him for a coffee and we spent a couple of time talking about many subjects. I have found him a honest and knowledge person about the local and general culture of his country. For this reason, if you are looking for a tourist guide I advise you to give him a try. He used to stay in one of the cafés at the main street in the of Old Town.

    Name
    Shkëlqim Kasaj

    Languages
    Russian
    Italian
    Greek
    French

    He also can communicate in English, but not fluently.

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    Statue of Çerçiz Topulli

    by JLBG Updated Jun 21, 2011

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    The square is named after Çerçiz Topulli (1880-1912), a national hero that fought for the independence of Albania together with his brother Bajo Topulli. I have found that in 1908, he led an uprising against the Ottomand and that he played a main part in the battle of Mashkullora, a mountain village 7 km north to Gjirokastra, outside of the valley, in the direction to Tepelena. However, I have been unable to find any information about the battle of Mashkullora, all the sites on the web about Mashkullora being in Albanian. However, I have found “Këngë për Çerçiz Topullin” (song for Çerçiz Topulli), a video where Irini Qirjako sings "Te Rrapi Ne Mashkullore" (The plane tree of Mashkullora) while the video tells the story of Çerçiz Topulli. It shows a terrible fight that should be the battle of Mashkullora and finally, Çerçiz Topulli is shot in the street by a passerby. I hope that some one will be able to explain better!

    Gjirokastra, Statue of ��er��iz Topulli Gjirokastra, Statue of ��er��iz Topulli
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    Sheshi Çerçiz Topulli : hanged woman

    by JLBG Updated Jun 21, 2011

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    Another monument on Çerçiz Topulli square reminds the sad memory of two Gjirokastrian young women, Bule NAIPI and Persefoni KOKËDHIMA, that were hanged by the nazi during WWII as they were suspect to help the nationalists against the invaders. The anonymous sculptor has represented them just before they were hanged. Their face is terrible with determination and makes you shiver…

    Sheshi ��er��iz Topulli  : hanged woman
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  • JLBG's Profile Photo

    Palorto district

    by JLBG Updated Jun 17, 2009

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    Palorto district is a little further up in the mountain than Varosh.

    Photo 1 shows a part of the Palorto district, with a lot of trees and bushes growing around the houses. In the background, the soil is rocky and bare. This is one of those ravines that scare the slope of the mountain. Such ravines, inside the city, split one district from the next one and explain why it is often easier to go from one district to the bottom of the valley than to go to the neighboring district, at the same level on the mountain.

    Photo 2 is a close up that shows an interesting example of typical Ottoman style house. The large house is made of three parts: two towers on each side, linked by an open but covered terrace on the top level.

    Photo 3 is not very good. It is an enlargement of a 1998 photo that shows a house of the same type but with a double arch instead of a single in the middle.

    Gjirokastra, Palorto district, Zekate house Gjirokastra, Palorto district, typical house Gjirokastra, Palorto district, typical house
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    Zekate house

    by JLBG Written Jun 17, 2009

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    Photo 1 shows Zekate house from Hotel Kalemi. Zekate house is an interesting example of typical Ottoman style house. The large house is made of three parts: two towers on each side, linked by an open but covered terrace on the top level. Zekate house is private and not open for visits but I have read that it might be open in the future.

    Photo 2 shows the entrance into Zekate house

    I have taken Photo 3 out of the excellent book “Albania” by Philip Ward (1983, Philip Ward and the Oleander Press). Given that it was printed 26 years ago I allowed myself to paste it here. Should there be a copyright objection, I would remove it at once. It is not the plan of Zekate house but of n°13, Rruga Muhamet Bakiri. It is another traditional house with about the same plan.

    Zekate house Zekate house Traditionnal house
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    Dilapidated old house

    by JLBG Written Jun 17, 2009

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    Keeping in condition the old traditional houses is expensive. Some are repaired but others are just left and decay by themselves. Their owners may have settled in more comfortable (and cheaper) apartments in the new city, or emigrated to nearby Greece or even further. The photos show one of such houses crumbling down. If no repairs are done soon, it will be lost forever.

    Dilapidated old house Dilapidated old house
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    View from Hotel Kalemi

    by JLBG Written Jun 17, 2009

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    Hotel Kalemi offers a wide view on the old and the modern city as well as on the castle.

    Photo 1 shows the valley in the background with an interesting house standing in the middle on a shelf. It would be interesting to spot it and view it from closer.

    Photo 2 shows the extremity of the castle (its clock tower) with in the background the Lunxherisë range of mountains that top at 1536. On May 17th, they were still covered with snow.

    Photo 3 shows the whole castle with in the foreground, in the middle, Hotel Çajupi

    Photo 4 shows Hotel Kalemi that is the large white house in the middle of the picture. In the foreground the two large buildings are a school with posters hanging (see other tip)

    View from Hotel Kalemi View from Hotel Kalemi View from Hotel Kalemi View from Hotel Kalemi
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  • JLBG's Profile Photo

    Gjirokastra, kafe

    by JLBG Updated Jun 17, 2009

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    Shaded under a plane tree, the "kafe", shot in 1988, looks exactly like a Greek "cafeneion". There are amazingly the same people (enlargement on the second photo), sat on the same chairs, drinking the same café or the same glass of water, or not drinking anything but just chatting for hours.

    No wonder as there is a strong Greek speaking population in Gjirokaster.

    The photo could as well have been shot in Kastoria, 100 km away, as the crow flies, with a strong Albanian speaking population!

    These three photos were taken in 1988 and I have been unable to find again this place in 2007.

    Photos 4 and 5 were shot in 2009. The kafe, which stands on the street that goes on the left, down from the pass (the street that goes to Sheshi Çerçiz Topulli square goes on the right) has not much changed since then !

    Kafe, 1988 Kafe, 1988 Kafe from below, 1988 Kafe, 2009 Kafe, 2009
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    Work in progress

    by JLBG Written Jun 17, 2009

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    In Varosh, we spotted several ancient buildings that were subject to repairs. Though repairs in the traditional style are expensive, several houses have been repaired recently or are in the process of reparation. The photos given here show two of them.

    Work in progress Work in progress
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    Bird's eye view on Gjirokastra and the Drina plain

    by JLBG Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    The first photo was shot from the north-east end of the castle, near the clock tower. It shows the Puntore district, a new part of Gjirokastra, in the valley bottom, with the agricultural Drina plain.

    The second photo shows the pass near the clock tower, that allows going down from the castle. Mind, it is a long way down and we are in the thousand steps town, make a second thought before actually following that passage….

    Gjirokastra, Southeastward bird���s eye view Gjirokastra, southeast entrance
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    The museum from outside

    by JLBG Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    The castle of Gjirokastra is said to be the biggest castle in Albania. It seems that the site was already inhabited in the IIIth AD. A small part of a wall from the VIth have been unearthed in 1980. However, most of what can be seen now was built at the beginning of the XIXth by Ali, Pasha of Tepelena.

    Photo 1 shows the former prison, now the war museum.

    Photo 2 shows a set of canons on the terrace and in the background a jet (see next tip).

    Gjirokastra, the museum from outside Gjirokastra, canons on the terrace
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    The war museum

    by JLBG Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    The prison block was much used under Enver Hoxha’s regime. It became a museum in 1971. It had a nice collection of weapons from the past centuries. During the 1976 period, it was entirely looted and everything disappeared. The museum was closed for several years and opened recently. It displays now only weapons from WWII but is nevertheless interesting and deserves a quick visit.

    The first photo shows a partisan fighting successfully a Nazi soldier. In front of them, German helmets and guns, displayed as trophies.

    The second photo shows how the partisans were able to get across the barbed wires fences held by the Germans. They plated willow branches in order to make a kind of ladder that they put along the fence. Once on top, they threw one or two of these very thick wool cloak worn by the shepherds to make an easy way! Of course, once on the other side, they collected the cloaks!

    Gjirokastra, the war museum Gjirokastra, the war museum
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    Upper street to the castle

    by JLBG Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    From Qafa e Pazarit, once gone outside of the bazar area, the road is moderately wide and perfectly paved. We even found a camper that had settled for a night at the entrance of the castle! I can hardly imagine driving with a huge camper across the narrow streets of the bazar! Since there were so few tourists, we had no problem to park at the entrance into the castle but there was only room for about a dozen cars. When there will be more tourists, one would have better walk to the castle and not drive!

    Gjirokastra, to the castle from Qafa e Pazarit Gjirokastra, to the castle from Qafa e Pazarit
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    The castle seen from Pllake

    by JLBG Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    This picture shows the castle from the north (from Pllake district), with the clock tower showing. In this district, the houses seem to have been built later than in Dunavat and are not so typically Balkanic. However, they are ideally situated in a frame of vegetation.

    Gjirokastra, the castle seen from Pllake
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    Qafa e Pazarit: street to the castle

    by JLBG Updated Aug 18, 2007

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    There are two accesses to the castle. This one is from the bazar and more specifically from the only street that goes upwards, beginning at Qafa e Pazarit. When coming from Çerçiz Topulli square, it is the first street on the right. It still belongs to the bazar area.

    Qafa e Pazarit: street to the castle
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Gjirokaster Things to Do

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