Berat (alb. Berati) - 2400 year old town located in southcentral Albania is known as "the town of a thousand windows, also the Museum City". It is one of the oldest and most beautiful towns of Albania, with a settlement having existed there since at least the 6th century BC, when it was a fortress-settlement of the Greek Dassaretae tribe on the old border between Illyria and Epirus. The old town was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List in July 2008.
Berat lies on the right bank of the river Osum, a short distance from the point where it is joined by the Molisht river. The Osumi river has cut a 915-metre deep gorge through the limestone rock on the west side of the valley to form a precipitous natural fortress, around which the town was built on several river terraces. It is remarkable Ottoman town, with a wealth of beautiful buildings of the highest architectural and historical interest.
According to legend, the Tomorr mountain was originally a giant, who fought with another giant, called Shpirag over a young woman. They killed each other and the girl drowned in her tears, which then became the Osum river.
Berat bears witness to the coexistence of various religious and cultural communities down the centuries. A town of 44,000 inhabitants (2008 est.), it features a castle, locally known as the Kalaja, most of which was built in the 13th century, although its origins date back to the 4th century BC. The citadel area numbers many Byzantine churches, mainly from the 13th century, several of which contain valuable wall paintings and icons. The earliest settlement lay on the citadel, from which the town spread downwards only later towards the river. It took on its present form only during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The town also numbers several mosques built under the Ottoman era which started in 1417. Furthermore its characteristic houses, the ethnographic museum, and the "Onufri Museum" with beautiful frescoes from this famous Albanian painter of the 16th century.
What to see
Houses - the enclosed residential quarters of Kala, Mangalem and Gorica are all composed of typical town houses of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The citadel (Kalaja Beratit) - most of it was built in the 13th century, although its origins date back to the 4th century BC. The citadel area numbers many Byzantine churches, mainly from the 13th century, several of which contain valuable wall paintings and icons. In the Hellenistic period the town was equipped with a triangular fortification built of huge and meticulously cut ashlar masonry. The medieval walls were built directly on top of this in the 13th/14th centuries, extending to 1,400 m in circumference, with 24 towers and four entrances.
The Onufri Museum - the museum bears the name of the renowned fresco- and icon-painter Onufri (16th century), who has left a rich inheritance. The museum is composed of three rooms, in which numerous icons and a number of textiles and metal objects testify to the highly developed craft skills of the region.
The National Ethnographic Museum: In the exhibition rooms and in the courtyard of the house are original ethnographic objects from Berat and southern Albania.
The Church of Saint Triadha (Trinity) inside of Kalaja Beratit
The Gallery "Eduard Lear"
The Church of Saint Mehilli (Michael)
The Cathedral of Saint Mary
The Church of Saint Triadha (Trinity)
The Church of Saint Vllaherna
The King Mosque
The Bridge of Gorica, over river Osum