Albania – a day in Berat

Hotel White City – great view of Mangalem from the balcony

The hotel White City serves breakfast on the balcony of the hird floor. From the balcony, there is a great view of Mangalem, the city under the castle. I can see where the name “white town of 1000 windows” comes from.

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Walking up to the castle hill

Above Mangalem is the city castle. On the way up we stop in the ethnological museum which is hosted in the house of the noble Xhokaxhi family.

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On the groundfloor there is an exhibition of clothes – noble ones made from silk embroidered with gold for the Pashas and plain white ones made out of wool for normal people. On the first floor the guest rooms with sofas, tea equipment and weapons have been arranged, as well as the kitchen and the rooms for the women.

We continue to the castle and pay our entrance fee.

 

Walking around the wall

The castle was first built in Illyrian times, and their solid walls remain. In Illyrian days, Berat was called Atrantia. The names of one of the streets and a restaurant remind us of that.

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We walk around the castle walls. Berat saw changing rulers: the Bulgarians (they called Berat “Beli Grad”), the Byzantines (two times), Epirus (one of the streets is called after Mihal Komneini from Epirus) and the Serbs under Stefan Dušek. From those Christian times there are churches on the Berat castle – most of them are ruins today. This is the Shën Triada Church.

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For 500 years the Ottomans ruled over Berat… also their mosques are mostly in ruins. This is the Red Mosque.

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A lady sits in a room under the castle wall – she fabricates embroidery – one napkin takes a week and she earns perhaps 10 to  20 dollars by selling it.

Hidden inside the castle walls is a city with narrow streets. The Turkish style houses are from the 18th/19th century.

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Also animals live here, cocks with their hens, sheep and also turkeys.

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Our highlight: The Onufri museum

The Cathedral of St. Mary is now a museum. It takes its name from Onufri; he was an icon painter in the 16th century. On display are icons from him and from other icon painters.

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Anila has just started her tour with a Russian group. She explains the icons in English and the Russian tour leader translates for her group. Very professional. Father Onufri’s icons are vivid and adorned with a bright red colour – here are two Theodors.

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Source: Leon Cika and Ylli Drishti: “The icons of Berat”, Mali Preshti Printing house.

This is the Last Supper taking place at a round table with vessels, forks and knife in the Ottoman style.

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Source: Leon Cika and Ylli Drishti: “The icons of Berat”, Mali Preshti Printing house.

And here the icon painter added a mosque with a minaret, as a reference to the Ottoman rulers in the country.

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Source: Leon Cika and Ylli Drishti: “The icons of Berat”, Mali Preshti Printing house.

 

Lunch at Klea

We have lunch in the Klea: Vegetable soup, Byrek with eggplant and spinach, musakka – everything home made and delicious.

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New town and Gorice

We stroll around the new town with the Bektashi centre and an orthodox church. I like this hairdresser, called “berber” in Albanian.

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We cross the Ottoman bride to Gorice, …

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… accompanied by goats crossing the Osum river in the water.

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The small church of Saint Mehillit (from the 13/14th century) is unfortunately closed – this is the view from the castle hill.

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We finish off this day by walking along the busy main street of new Berat and climb the castle hill from behind. On the way up, we meet a elderly woman with friendly eyes that limps down the steep street. Ben has a chat with her. She wishes us a long life. Thank you.

We return to the Kea restaurant and guest house. In the garden we have a beer, a glass of red wine and some goat cheese. Excellent. Whenever I come back to Berat, I would like to stay in this guest house. I made an entry in Tripadvisor. Back at home, Ben called me to give me the “thank you” from the owners. It is me that has to say thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Albania – a day in Berat

  1. Paul D. Reigrotzki says:

    Liebe Petra

    A mouth-watering report Рagain! Sch̦n und fremd: wie, zum Teufel, spricht man wohl den Namen der Xhokaxhi-Familie aus? Schokaschi? Wohl daneben geraten.

    Und wie immer: Krümelchen! Dein Gebrauch von “Ottoman” scheint inkonsistent: mal mit Doppel-n, mal mit Einfach-n. Meine Erinnerung an die Schulzeit bringt ein langes a – also nur ein n. Egal, was richtig ist: mach’s doch mal konsistent.

    Ansonsten: bei uns ist Stress! Die Trennung unseres Sohnes von seiner Frau (oder umgekehrt) geht – wie immer – hauptsächlich zu Lasten der Kinder. Wir versuchen zu mildern. Eine seriöse Terminplanung ist zur Zeit nicht möglich, wir fangen auf und füllen Lücken.

    Ganz liebe Grüsse Dein Paul

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