Berat city was our favorite place on our trip to Albania. Berat which the Ottoman Empire ruled for five centuries, is like the twin brothers of Safranbolu with their historic houses. Berat is a small city with its the best architectural features, unique historical buildings and historical textures that is the best preserved in the whole country.
Berat, one of the oldest settlements in Albania, is being defined as "City with Bin-windows" and "White City" because of its houses with white-painted and red tile roofs arranged like a pearl on the timber floor.
In the middle of Albania, the old town center, also known as Mangalem, with a population of 75,000, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008. The city owes its protection of the historical and cultural texture which have two thousand four hundred years old history to declaration by Enver Hoca as "Museum City" in 1961.
Here is a beautiful place with its cobbled narrow streets where stone-walled houses line up. We were really admired. Also traveler Evliya Çelebi visited in 1670 and mentioned about the beautiful houses of Berat in his travelogue.
The city was once the castle of the Kingdom of the Illyria. It was conquered by Byzantium, Bulgarians and Serbs in later periods, and later by the Ottomans in 1417.
Berat, one of the best preserved cities of the architecture of the Ottoman geography, was one of the important regions of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans in the 18th century. In 1944, it also hosted the Provisional Democratic Albanian Governmen for a short time.
Places to Visit in Berat
Berat, extending between Tomor and Shpirag mountains, was established on two sides of the Osumi River which is rising from the hills in case of terraces on the skirts of the Tomor Mountains and dividing the valley at the depth of 915 meters from the middle.
The Gorica Bridge, extending like a pearl necklace on the river where the Muslim neighborhood is located on one side, Christian neighborhood is loceted on the other side, has been built by Ahmet Kurt Pasha in the 18th century. The bridge which was wooden in 1790 when it first made, was rebuilt in 1920 as stone. The bridge restored with white stones in 2012, is also known as the "White Bridge".
Berat Castle is at the beginning of places to visit in the city. Inside the castle, Onufri Museum, Enver Hodja's villa, Byzantine Church famous for its frescoes, a minaret of a mosque built during Bayezid II time can be seen. When it is viewed from Berat Castle, which resembles an eagle's nest, the difference between old and new cities can be observed.
The landscape is magnificent, you can see Berat from all at aspects. It is known that the walls of the castle overlooking to Berat from top, were built for the first time in the 3rd century BC and later were re-organized by the Byzantines who took over the city. The life that began to take shape on the walls of the castle in the Middle Ages, contiuned until present day.
At the entrance of the Onufri Museum (Muzeu Kombetar Onufri), the icons of the Albanian painter Onufri who lived in the 16th century, is exhibited. It is famous for his lively and bright tone of red color used in Byzantine style icon paintings and portraits. The museum is located in the Church of the Holy Virgin Mary, where a rituel held only once a year.
Sultan Bayezid II, who arrived in Berat in 1492 during the Albanian campaign, built Red Mosque, the first mosque of Berat, which carries its name.