Berat is a city and a municipality located in south-central Albania, and the capital of the County of Berat. The old town, was inscribed
on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.
The old quarters are lovely ensembles of whitewashed walls, tiled roofs and cobblestone roads. Surrounding the town, olive and cherry trees decorate the gentler slopes, while pine woods stand on the steeper inclines.
The modern town is dominated by the incongruously modern dome of Berat University, while elsewhere the bridges over the Osumi River to the charmingly unchanged Gorica side include a 1780 seven-arched stone footbridge.
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 old city centre consists of three
parts: Kalaja (on the castle hill), Mangalem (at the foot of the castle hill) and Gorica (on the left bank of the Osum). It has a wealth of beautiful buildings of high architectural and historical interest. The pine forests above the city, on the slopes of
the towering Tomorr mountains.
In the 3rd century BC an Illyrian fortress called Antipatrea
was built here on the site of an earlier settlement. The Byzantines strengthened the hilltop fortifications in the 5th and 6th centuries, as did the Bulgarians 400 years later. The Serbs, who occupied the citadel in 1345, renamed it Beligrad, or 'White City'.
In 1450 the Ottoman Turks took the town. After a period of decline, in the 18th and 19th centuries the town began to thrive as a crafts centre specialising in woodcarving. Berat today is now a big centre for tourism in Albania, though it has managed to retain its easy-going charm and friendly atmosphere. Don't miss it.
It is believed to have been
the site of an Ancient Macedonian stronghold, Antipatreia (Ancient Illyrian or Greek:
city of Antipater") or "Antipatrea" in Latin, while during the early Byzantine Empire the name of the town was Pulcheriopolis.
1 Kalaja Beratit.
The fort (Berat’s Kala): The fort sits on top of a hill overlooking the whole town, it has history dating back to the 4th century and the castle
itself was built in the 13th. The only way up, unless you have your own car, is to walk so get the sun screen on and start marching.At the top of the hill you can enter the castle where you’ll find a fully functional town with a few bars and
restaurants. I don’t enby the locals having to do this walk every day though, I was knackered!
Mangalem: Below the fort is the ‘Town of a Thousand Windows’. Unsurprisingly famous thanks to the uniform architecture of all the buildings, all facing out to the Osumi river. Mangalem, north of the river, is the
Muslim half off the UNESCO town…
The Christian half, south of the Osumi river, of the UNESCO town appears pretty much the same as Mangalem, with equally impressive numbers of windows, and old cobbled streets.