Day Tripping to Berat

When I added Albania to my itinerary, I had no real expectations of what I would encounter. I suspected the logistics of the country would be challenging — no trains in or out, for example — and that a smaller percentage of the population would speak English given the country was largely isolated from the rest of the world until the 1990s. Both of those things turned out to be true. But, what I couldn’t have anticipated was the fascinating history and culture.  I’d read enough about Berat (historically called Antipatreia) to know it was a UNESCO World Heritage site, so I decided to take a day trip.

B9907925-F181-4443-A282-3AA0B0FC8963

On the way to Berat, my tour guide Armando took me to the seaside town of Durres, Albania’s second-largest city, where we stopped and had a coffee on the beach.  The Albanian seaside is gorgeous, definitely could have spent more time there.

3CB6F384-F242-49AA-8448-1C1EF660819D

Perhaps the most interesting thing — to me anyway — about the Berat Castle is that people still live within the castle walls. It is like a small village, with homes, guesthouses, cafes and eateries inside the original castle bounds. The castle was burned by the Romans in 200 BC, but later fortified and reconstructed by Justinian in the 5th Century.

3463CB43-17E2-46C8-893E-171E4FDD686F

Located off one of the main squares (above) is this absolutely adorable guesthouse. I’d definitely consider a stay there. The garden was amazing.

C738C591-C53F-48C4-9F8F-4A1B7B26BE8E

From the castle you get a nice view of Berat, with the Old Town on the left and the newer area to the right.

6CE66EBC-F499-43CB-8117-FEEBCA0FF015

Inside the castle walls, you will find a number of churches and mosques, like this Orthodox stunner that has classic Byzantine styling.

219EDC54-45FD-4816-B11F-AAD3B44C58A5

All good castles need a cistern, or water source, and this one still has water in it.

27FA33DC-CCAB-4BE8-BBC0-C9CF793326C0

One of the mosques located inside the castle’s wall — the Red Mosque. The other is cleverly named the White Mosque.

F4134C67-4288-4CDB-88EA-36501352E3FE

A structure that was taken over by the government during the Communist Era and turned into a community center. It now sits empty.

B2FD27B4-6648-41EB-A549-3620AEC865DF

The view of “new” Berat from the castle. The ninth-largest city in Albania, Berat has about 33,000 residents.

D6D28580-AB98-4F17-A7BD-804A02852D14

Some of the original castle structure that hasn’t been touched by renovations.

0331AFB1-934D-42D2-8D8A-DA3A99B0F0D6

The entrance to the castle, which is lined with little souvenir shops and stalls run by residents selling everything from magnets to intricate lace linens.

90F7B6EC-BE3D-41A4-B0C6-8C3538B52FC4

A stone pedestrian bridge across the Osum River, which separates the castle from Old Town.

79A4A04B-63A0-4915-BBFD-212664DE884F

Looking across the river, you get a stunning view of the castle, and you can see the bright red Albanian flag waving in the breeze all the way at the top.

1AFF213C-3534-4FA3-8133-AB02ECFD58FAEEC06BA9-2861-4F3D-9801-38F798680A89

In addition to Old Town, Berat has a very cute pedestrian area lined with cafes and shops that abuts a large green space. It’s perfect for an afternoon drink or a bite to eat.

F98710C9-CDA4-4D54-BCE6-C849C0FDFBC4

Published by

BoundfortheBalkans

American expat. University professor. World traveller. Dog lover. Eating and drinking my way through the Balkans for 7 weeks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s