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ATA - Gjirokastra, enchanting stone city


TIRANA,June 9/ATA/-The sound of a chisel striking a stone is spread through the cobbled streets of the historical center of Gjirokastra. It comes from Muhedin Makro’s workshop right in the heart of the Old Bazaar quarter, one of the most interesting in the Balkans.

Throughout his life, Muhedin, who is now over 70 years old, masterfully carves the local stone with the techniques taught by his father and grandfather.

His shop has become a landmark for those who visit Gjirokastra and want to buy original handmade items that cannot be found elsewhere.

The stone with which the craftsman has been working since childhood is the symbol of this city located in the south of Albania.

It was Ismail Kadare, the internationally renowned Albanian writer who called Gjirokastra the “Stone City” in his novel about World War II, the events of which are staged here, a masterpiece of contemporary literature to be read even before or on a visit in the city. The author’s birthplace has been transformed into a museum-house that hosts interesting temporary exhibitions, many of which have been devoted to photography.

It is also worth visiting another home in Gjirokastra, that of Dictator Enver Hoxha, transformed into an Ethnographic Museum showing the Albanian customs of the past centuries.

Gjirokastra’s historical houses carry in themselves traces of life during the long years of Ottoman rule (Albania was part of the Ottoman Empire for about 500 years). In particular, Skënduli and Zeka’s homes, the two Ottoman architecture jewels, fascinate the visitor heading to its rooms, salons and terraces, as he plunges directly into the everyday life of an Albanian noble family of the ‘700s and’ 800s.

But, the whole city is a maze of surprises and thanks to unique architectural values; it is included by UNESCO in the list of world heritage sites. The Bazaar, in particular, professionally restored by the Albanian-American Foundation, AADF, which also founded TID Gjirokastra in order to promote tourism in the historic center of this museum city, is a jewel.

From the bazaar, the visitor takes the paved road that leads to the Castle of Gjirokastra, one of the most interesting peaks in the Balkans, used in the past as a prison by the Albanian king Zog I and dictator Hoxha.

The castle features a museum displaying ancient weapons, an American military aircraft crashed during World War II, a clock tower and remains of ancient churches.

The castle is fascinating for its legend and also because it offers a wonderful view of the city and the surrounding landscapes./k.s/p.s./

Agency : ATA

Date : 2019-06-12 10:32:43



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