Gjirokastra is one of the most attractive towns of Albania. Gjirokastra has been called the “City of One thousand Steps” or “The Stone City”.
It is of particular interest for its native architecture. The characteristic houses clustered around the majestic fortress towering above them as a huge battle ship, are small fortresses in themselves. Sheltered by a castle, the ancient city of Gjirokastra, with its mysterious atmosphere, is set against the dramatic backdrop of the mountains.
The narrow, winding cobbled streets of “the Museum City” of Gjirokastra exude a distinctive medieval feel. The castle is one of the best places where you have also the possibility to see the whole town. While in the area, why not spend the night in one of the typical houses.
Gjirokastër was declared a “Museum City” in 1961 and a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO in 2005. It is the main southern city in the country. Initially, it was an Illyrian settlement linked to the Argjiro tribe. According to legend, Gjirokastër was founded by Princess Argjiro.
In the Byzantine Chronicles of John Kantakuzen, Gjirokastër is mentioned as the fortress of the Zenebish family. In 1417 the Turks conquered it and turned it into an important center of Ottoman power and administration for hundreds of years. Gjirokastër became the center of the Sanjak of southern Albania.
Visitors are impressed by the architecture of the city, the surprising landscape of the Drino Valley, and the invincible lime peaks of the Bureto and Lunxheri mountain chains. Whoever visits Gjirokastër understands Albania’s character –a beautiful and tough place with an uncompromising spirit.
Situated in a particularly sensitive area of strategic and military importance, and with a very close proximity to the Greek border,
Gjirokastër has been the stage of many important events in the history of the country. One of the most important: this is the birth place of the writer Ismail Kadare
The renowned Albanian writer, Ismail Kadare, was born in Gjirokastër in 1936. He studied literature at the University of Tirana and later continued his studies at Gorky University in Moscow.He returned to the country in 1961, after relations between Albania and the Soviet Union were severed. He started working as a journalist and became famous with his first novel, “The General of the Dead Army” (Gjenerali i ushtrise se vdekur), which he wrote between 1962 and 1966.
Later, this novel served as the script for the movie with the same title, which starred the well-known Italian actor, Marcello Mastroianni. Kadare’s career was a success inside and outside the country.
Today, he is the icon of the Albanian literature and also the most translated and the most successful writer outside the country. He has been a candidate for the Noble Prize in literature several times, and has been crowned with many honorary prizes of the world literature. He was awarded the first “Man Booker International Prize in 2005.”