Saturday, July 23, 2011

Berat, Albania

Berat was a great stop after disappointing Tirana. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Berat's old town is charming, with rows of houses built on a steep incline looking over the river Osum.
The town of a thousand windows
Even though it was hot, BH and I climbed up the hills on both side of the city. One gave us a good view of the town, while the other side had the Berat castle. The fortress, rebuilt in the 6th century, has been damaged mightily throughout the years, but still had some interesting sights—especially the churches. Definitely not the cistern though... I'm pretty sure it was full of rats.

The most interesting part of our day, however, had to be the xhiro. Every evening, Albanians dress up and hit the streets at around 7:30. They then walk up and down the main promenade. I'm not certain what the reason is, but one other traveler told me it started under Hoxha, when there was a curfew in Albania. Before the sun went down, people went out to meet, chat, socialize, what have you. If this happened once a week, it might not be that exciting. But when the whole town comes out to do their evening stroll every evening, well, that is pretty cool.

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