Historical Houses in Gjirokaster

More than 500 of Gjirokaster’s distinctive traditional houses have been designated as cultural monuments under the UNESCO scheme. From the fortress, you can see some of the most intricate symmetrical houses pressed into the hills that rise up above the bazaar.

None are more spectacular than the towering fortified houses.

Most of them date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Inside, sleeping quarters, guest rooms and hammams are woven together by a network of passageways and secret doors, wrapped in multiple internal and external staircases. The flat stones used for rooftops are the reason Gjirokaster got its nickname, ‘The City of Stone’.

The traditional houses recommended to visit are:

Zekate House

With its twin towers and gravity defying double-story stone arches, is absolutely worth viewing from the yard outside.

 Skenduli House

 Built in the early 1700s, it’s the most opulent and the best-preserved house

The house has a bunker (made to protect its residents from canon fire rather than nuclear attack). Skenduli contains an impressive six hamam baths and 12 winter and summer rooms, plus a hidden mezzanine where women could sit and spy on their betrothed

Ismail Kadare House

The house of the world-famous Albanian writer, Ismail Kadare, has been turned into a museum. This is where Ismail Kadare was born and raised.

The house will be familiar to anyone who has read his book ‘Chronicle in Stone”, in which Kadare describes every corner of this house. During your visit you will imagine Kadare as a little boy, sitting close to the windows and witnessing the terrors of World War II.

The house was first built in 1799, and classified as a Cultural Monument in 1991. Recently, UNESCO and Albanian’s Ministry of Culture, repaired and rehabilitated the building under their auspices.

Ethnographic Museum

Located in Palorto Quarter on the site of Enver Hoxha’s birth house. After the original structure burnt down, it was replaced with a model house that mirrors the town’s Ottoman-era buildings.

Like other house museums in the region, it’s a window onto 19th-century Albanian life. Inside the four-story home, you’ll find a historical display of costume, textiles and household objects – but absolutely nothing that references the former dictator.

The Old Bazaar

 Makes up the centre of the Old Town. The history of Bazaar dates back in 17th century. The sources says that a destroying fire impacted the old bazaar in the 19th century.

The architecture of this Bazaar has something similar with the Korca Bazaar, for which the historians think they have been built in the same period (1879) and both restored from a fire. The difference is that it was adapted to the sloping terrain of Gjirokastra and here stands the beauty of this bazaar.

What we have today is preserved in the best way possible. The radial shape is very interesting if you see from above, linking it with many streets in the old city. Now there are still some artisans, working in old way, and people are trying to pass the craft work to new generation. You can buy in this bazaar many souvenirs, t-shirts, handicrafts, curtains, carpet, and plenty of magnets representing different attractions of Gjirokastra region.

The Castle

 One of the biggest castles in the Balkans. It is situated on the hilltop overlooking the city, witnessing the history of the whole region across the centuries. The date for building this fortification is still unclear. According to archaeologists, the place had been inhabited since IV-V century. Inside the castle you can see the Clock Tower, a Festival scene, the Castle’s Museum and a superb views over the valley.