An ancient town that has continually been inhabited through the ages, Berat is one of the most popular historic destinations in Albania. Today, Berat retains much of its historic charm and since 2005 has been listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Founded in antiquity, an early Macedonian city was built here in the 3rd or 4th centuries BC named Antipatreia after the Macedonian general Antipater. Later forming part of the Roman Empire and subsequently the Byzantine Empire, it was at various times ruled by Bulgarians, Angevins, Serbs and Ottomans, who ruled Berat from the 15th century until the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.
Today, visitors to Berat can admire a number of sights. One of the most striking is the multitude of picturesque houses that cover the slopes below the castle – leading to Berat’s reputation as the ‘town of a thousand windows’.
Among the most popular and obvious sites is Berat castle itself. Though it has been occupied since Roman times, the current structure dates back to the 13th century AD and beyond. Almost a mini-town in itself, the citadel (known as the Kala) offers superb views of the area.
Inside, you will find the remains of churches, mosques – including the ruins of the Xhamia e Kuqe / Red Mosque – and the Onufri Museum (located in the inner part of Saint Mary Church), housing works by the famous medieval artist. Be warned, the path up to Berat castle is steep.
Also worth visiting in Berat is the Ethnographic Museum which contains displays relating to the history and life of the local area.
Getting to Berat
A city along the Osum River in central Albania, Berat is found by car along the SH74 and is a 2 hour drive from Tirana (Albania’s capital) along the A3, where there is an international airport.