Gjirokastër is a town and a UNESCO world heritage site in Southeastern Albania, described as “a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate”.
The city is built on the slope surrounding the citadel, located on a dominating plateau. Although the city’s walls were built in the third century and the city itself was first mentioned in the 12th century, the majority of the existing buildings date from 17th and 18th centuries.
Gjirokastër can be divided into roughly two halves, the old town up on the hill, and the new town in the valley below. You can walk just about anywhere if you’re able to handle the steep cobbled streets.
Gjirokastër Castle (map). The historical and geographical center of the city, the Castle is billed as the second largest in all the Balkans, and is worth a look. The Armaments Museum (map) is located in the castle.
Old Bazaar and Historic Ottoman Homes (map). The old bazaar is still the social and commercial center of the Old Town of Gjirokaster. Though the newer sections of the city have attracted many businesses and people, the bazaar and its surrounding homes dating from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries still manages to capture a bit of the bygone era of Gjirokastrite life.
Zekate House (in the historic Palorto quarter, map). It is the most visited of Gjirokastër’s monumental stone houses. It is one of the largest of its kind, featuring three floors spread over two large towers.
BUS > Regional Bus & Furgon Station (at the entrance to the town, on the NW corner where the town’s main boulevard intersects the National Road. There is a small shelter there with seating and a sign saying Autobus Bileta (“bus tickets”).). It’s less of a “bus station” and more of a collective gathering place for buses and furgons (shared minibuses) along the shoulder of the road.
RAIL > It is not possible to enter or leave Albania via train.