Exploring Tourism in Albania
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Berat, Albania

This 2,413 years-old city, the pride of Albanian architecture which is under the protection of UNESCO, is located 120 km from Tirana. The city forms a wonderful combination of eastern and western cultures, costumes, traditions, and outlook. Berat is a treasure-trove of Albanian history, culture and a testament to the country’s tradition of religious harmony. Berat the most striking feature is the collection of white Ottoman houses that climb the hill to the castle, earning it the title of “ Town of a thousand windows” The city’s life began in the VI – V century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the III century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. The castle expanded eastwards, particularly during the feudal dominion of the feuda lMuzakaj family. Inside the castle, they built churches with precious frescos and icons and also a calligraphy school. Today, the castle is made unique by the fact that people continue to live inside.

The ensemble of the Byzantine churches in the castle of Berati is extraordinary. At the foot of the castle, there is the Byzantine Church of Shën Mëhilli( Saint Michael), while the 13th century Church of Shën Maria e Vllahernës ( Saint Mary of Blachernaebuil in XIII century), the Church of Shën Triadha (The Holy Trinity) and the post-Byzantine monumental Cathedral of Shën Maria (Saint Mary) are located within the castle.

The Cathedral of Shën Mëria houses a museum of works by the famous iconographers of the 16th century: Onufri and his son Nikolla. There are over 100 icons on display and they also include works of other artists such as Joan Çetiri, Onufër Qiprioti, and many anonymous painters. In 1417, the Ottomans occupied Berati and this conquest left its mark with the building of monuments to the Islamic faith such as the Xhamia e Kuqe( The Red Mosque) inside the castle, the Xhamia e Plumbit (1555), ( The Lead Mosque), Xhamia Mbret ( built-in 1481 ) ( The King Mosque), and the Xhamia e Beqarëve (1872). Other sites worth visiting are the Ethnographic Museum, situated inside an 18th-century çardak building, and the Gallery of Arts “Edward Lear,” a well known English painter who painted so much of Berati and Albania. Visit the Onufri Museum, Bachelors Mosque, The King's Mosque, The Leaden Mosque.

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