Berat: Wikis


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Berat old town and river Osum
Berat is located in Albania
Coordinates: 40°42′N 19°57′E / 40.7°N 19.95°E / 40.7; 19.95Coordinates: 40°42′N 19°57′E / 40.7°N 19.95°E / 40.7; 19.95
Country  Albania
County Berat County
District Berat District
Founded 6th Century BC
 - Mayor Fadil Nasufi (PS)
 - Total 6.3 km2 (2.4 sq mi)
Elevation 58 m (190 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 65,000
 Density 10,317/km2 (26,720.9/sq mi)
Time zone Central European Time (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 5001-5006
Area code(s) 032
Car Plates BR
Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra (well-preserved southern Albanian towns bearing outstanding testimony to the Ottoman period in the Balkans)*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Citadel of Berat
State Party  Albania
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 569
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2005  (29th Session)
Extensions 2008
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Antipatrea in the antiquity

Berat (also known in Albanian as Berati) is a town located in south-central Albania. It has a population of around 65,000 people (2006 est). It is the capital of both the District of Berat and the larger County of Berat. The old town was inscribed on the World Heritage List in July 2008.



The current name of the town in Albanian is Berat or Berati which is derived from older Bel(i)grad ( meaning White city in Bulgarian language ) under which name it was known in Greek, Latin and Slavic documents during Mediaeval period.[citation needed]. During the antiquity the town's territory is believed to have been the site of a Greek polis, Antipatrea (Greek: Αντιπατρια, while during the rule of the Byzantine Empire the name of the town was Bulcheriòpolis Greek: Πουλχεριοπολις) and later on the current name was in Greek as Veràtion, Βερατιον.


Berat lies on the right bank of the river Osum, a short distance from the point where it is joined by the Molisht river. It is a remarkable Albanian town, with a wealth of beautiful buildings of high architectural and historical interest. The pine forests above the city, on the slopes of the towering Tomorr mountains, provide a backdrop of appropriate grandeur. The Osumi river has cut a 915-metre deep gorge through the limestone rock on the west side of the valley to form a precipitous natural fortress, around which the town was built on several river terraces.

According to an Albanian legend, the Tomorr mountain was originally a giant, who fought with another giant, called Shpirag over a young woman. They killed each other and the girl drowned in her tears, which then became the Osum river.

Mount Shpirag, named after the second giant, is on the left bank of the gorge, above the district of Gorica. Berati is known to Albanians as The City of a Thousand Windows a similar epithet to that sometimes applied to Gjirokastra, or The City of Two Thousand Steps. It was proclaimed a 'Museum City' by the dictator Enver Hoxha in June 1961.


Antipatrea (Greek: Αντιπάτρεια) was an ancient Greek polis in the region of Epirus, now Berat. It was founded by Cassander as Antipatreia, who named it after his father Antipater at 314 BC[1]. A fortress-settlement of the Greek[2] Dassaretae tribe existed in the area[3] as the early as the 6th century BC. It was captured by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Livy (31.27.2) describes Antipatrea as a strongly fortified city in a narrow pass that the Romans sacked and burned. The city was composed of two fortifications on both sides of the river Osum.

The town became part of the unstable frontier of the Byzantine Empire following the fall of the Roman Empire and, along with much of the rest of the Balkan peninsula, it suffered from repeated invasions by Slavs and other "barbarian" tribes. During the Byzantine period, it was known as Pulcheriopolis.

The Bulgarians under Simeon I captured the town in the 9th century and renamed it "Beligrad" (White City).They were eventually driven out in the 11th century. During the 13th century, it fell to Michael I Ducas, the ruler of the Despotate of Epirus.

Latter in the 13th century Berat again fell under the control of the Byzantine Empire. In 1280-1281 the Sicilian forces under Hugh the Red of Sully laid siege to Berat. In March 1281 a relief force from Constantinople under the command of Michael Tarchaneiotes was able to drive off the besieging Sicilian army.[4] It passed to the Serbs in 1345.

The Ottoman Empire conquered it in 1450 after the siege of Berat and retained it until 1912. However, it did not retain direct control for the whole of this period – in 1809, the tyrannical Ali Pasha, who was himself of Albanian origins, seized the town and refortified it. In 1867, Berat became a sanjak in Janina (Yanya) vilayet. During Ottoman rule, she was known Arnavut Belgradı in Turkish) at first, after Berat.

During the early period of Ottoman rule, Berat fell into severe decline. By the end of the 16th century it had only 710 houses. However it began to recover by the 17th century and became a major craft centre in the Ottoman Balkans specializing in wood carving. During the 19th century, Berat played an important part in the Albanian national revival. It became a major base of support for the League of Prizren, the late 19th century Albanian nationalist alliance. In November 1944, the communist-controlled Anti-Fascist National Liberation Council of Albania declared in Berat that it was the provisional government of the country, signaling the beginning of the long dictatorship of Enver Hoxha.


Berat Castle is built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the river Osum and is accessible only from the south. After being burned down by the Romans in 200 BC the walls were strengthened in the fifth century under Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II, and were rebuilt during the 6th century under the Emperor Justinian and again in the 13th century under the Despot of Epirus, Michael Angelus Comnenus, cousin of the Byzantine Emperor. The main entrance, on the north side, is defended by a fortified courtyard and there are three smaller entrances. The fortress of Berat in its present state, even though considerably damaged, remains a magnificent sight. The surface that it encompasses made it possible to house a considerable portion of the cities inhabitants. The buildings inside the fortress were built during the 13th century and because of their characteristic architecture are preserved as cultural monuments. The population of the fortress was Christian, and it had about 20 churches (most built during the 13th century) and only one mosque, for the use of the Turkish garrison, (of which there survives only a few ruins and the base of the minaret). The churches of the fortress were damaged through years and only some have remained.

The Church of St. Mary of Blaherna dating from the 13th century, has 16th century mural paintings by Nikolla, son of the Albania's most famous medieval painter, Onufri. In a small tree - planted square, on a hillside inside the walls of the fortress, stands the fourteenth century Church of the Holy Trinity. It is built in the form of a Greek cross and has Byzantine murals. Outside the ramparts is the Church of St. Michael (Shen Mehill), Built in the thirteenth century. This church is reached by a steep but perfectly safe path. Near the entrance, after a guardhouse, is the little Church of St. Theodore (Shen Todher), which have wall paintings by Onufri himself. The most interesting is the cathedral of St. Nicholas, which has been well restored and is now a museum dedicated to Onufri. Onufri was the greatest of the 16th century painters in Albania. Not only was he a master of the techniques of fresco and icons, but he was the first to introduce a new colour in painting, pink, which the French called "Onufri's Red". In addition, Onufri introduced a certain realism and a degree of individuality in facial expression.

The first inscription recording Onufri's name was found in 1951, in the Shelqan church. The Kastoria church has a date 23 July 1547 and a reference to Onufri's origin : I am Onufri, and come from the town of Berat. Onufri's style in painting was inherited by his son, Nikolla (Nicholas), though not so successful as his father. In Onufri's museum are to be found works of Onufri, his son, Nikolla and other painters'. There are also numbers of icons and some fine examples of religious silversmith's work (sacred vessels, icon casings, covers of Gospel books, etc). Berat Gospels, which date from the fourth century, are copies (the originals are preserved in the National Archives in Tirana). The church itself has a magnificent iconostasis of carved wood, with two very fine icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The bishop's throne and the pulpit are also of considerable quality. Near the street running down from the fortress is the Bachelors' Mosque (Xhami e Beqareve), built in 1827. This has a handsome portico and an interesting external decoration of flowers, plants, houses, etc. The 'Bachelors' were the young shop-assistants (in practice generally unmarried), whom the merchants in Berat used as their own private militia. The Sultan's Mosque (Xhamia e Mbretit), the oldest in the town built in the reign of Bayazid II (1481–1512), is notable for its fine ceiling.

The Leaden Mosque (Xhamia e Plumbit), built in 1555 and so called from the covering of its cupola. This mosque is the centre of the town. The Tekke of the Helveti (Teqe e Helvetive), of 1790, with a handsome porch and a carved and gilded ceiling. Near of tekke is purported to be the grave of Shabbatai Zevi, a Turkish Jew who had been banished to Dulcigno (present day Ulcinj) who created controversy among his followers upon his conversion to Islam.

The Helveti Teke is thought to have been built in the XV century. It was rebuilt by Ahmet Kurt Pasha in 1782. It belongs to the Helveti Sect. It is composed of the prayer hall with a square plan, a small ambience for special religious services and a gracious portico in front of the entrance to the prayer hall. In the prayer hall is a mafil carved in wood and decorated. On the eastern side of the prayer hall is the mihrab decorated with stone stalactites. The inner walls have been decorated with eight frescoes, depicting dwelling houses, Muslim religious buildings and landscapes. The walls below the frescoes are covered by holes that improve the acoustics in the prayer hall. The ceiling of the prayer hall is made of wood and is decorated with paintings valued as the most beautiful of the time. The ceiling has been decorated in the Baroque style adopted in Islamic art and is covered with 14 carat gold plates. The inner decorations were carried out by Master Dush Barka. Attached to the prayer hall is a room in which once was the mausoleum of Ahmet Kurt Pasha and his son. The portico of the teke has five has five stone columns which were taken from the ancient Greek city of Apollonia. Above the main door in the portico is an inscription dedicated to the values of the teke and to Ahmet Kurt Pasha.


Berat experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate . Its hot climate can be attributed to two of its very hot and sexy males, Eriono and Floros gaybonos. They are the most beautiful couples and it is said that they used to hang out each others windows and sing songs about love. They are now working in what we call in albanian skalla jobs and when one climbs up the skalla the other stares at his ass. Eriono is known to be skinny and a talented singer of amazing Albanian songs. Due to its location in a rain shadow because of Mount Tomorr the Berat climate is much drier compared to most of the rest of Mediterranean Europe. The mountainous Eastern suburbs, for their part, experience a somewhat differentiated climatic pattern, with generally lower temperatures. Fog is highly unusual in the city centre but it is more frequent to the east, behind the hills range. Berat has recorded the second higher temperature in Eurpe after Athens. In the summer Berat is the hottest city in Albania.[citation needed]

Sights in Berat

Byzantine Church
Orthodox Cathedral of Berat

The town is still renowned for its historic architecture and scenic beauty and is known as the "Town of a Thousand Windows", due to the many large windows of the old decorated houses overlooking the town.

It is unclear whether it really means "Thousand" (një mijë) or "One over Another" (një mbi një) windows. Indeed, the quarter is built in a very steep place and windows seem to be one over another. Same views can be admired also in Gjrokastër (Albania) and Catanzaro (Italy) where once an Albanian minority lived.

The Citadel overlooks the river and the modern city as well as the old Christian quarter across the river. It is a well preserved area containing narrow streets, Turkish houses and Orthodox churches.

Modern Berat consists of three parts divided by the Osum River: Gorica ("little mountain" in Old Slavonic), Mangalem and Kalaja, the latter being a residential quarter within the old Byzantine citadel that overlooks the town. The town also has a 15th century mosque and a number of churches of the Albanian Orthodox Church, whose autocephaly was proclaimed there in 1922. Several of the churches house works by the renowned 16th century painter Onufri.

Notable People


See also


  1. ^ Epirus: the geography, the ancient remains, the history and topography of ... by Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond,"founded Antipatreia in Illyria at c. 314 BC"
  2. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume 6: The Fourth Century BC by D. M. Lewis (Editor), John Boardman (Editor), Simon Hornblower (Editor), M. Ostwald (Editor), 1994, ISBN 0521233488, page 423, "These Dassareti not to be confused with the Greek speaking Dexari or Dessaretae of the ,"
  3. ^ The Illyrians by John Wilkes,page 98,"the Dassaretae possessed several towns...Chrysondym, Gertous or Gerous..."
  4. ^ Norwich, John Julius. The Decline and Fall of the Byzantine Empire. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996) p. 246-247
  • Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca chapters xviii, xix, xx
  • Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Demetrius", 18, 31; "Phocion", 31
  • Franca Landucci Gattinoni: L'arte del potere. Vita e opere di Cassandro di Macedonia. Stuttgart 2003. ISBN 3-515-08381-2
  • The Cambridge ancient history, page 92
  • The Regional Directorate of National Culture'

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Balkans : Albania : Berat

Berat is a city in Albania. In 2008 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town.

Get in

Take a furgon from Tirane to Berat (cost: 500 lek)

  • The Kala, a castle mostly built in the 13th Century, but with origins going back to the 4th Century BC. A very beautiful place with great views of the surrounding area. There are a couple of bars and shops in the Kala area.
  • Numerous Byzantine Churches, dating from the 13th Century
  • Several Mosques from the Ottoman era (starting from 1417)

Osumi River

One of the most beautiful rivers in Albania. Most of the river passes through canyons as high as 100m high walls. Outdoor Albania offers a 3 hour rafting experience inside the canyons. how cool is this :)

this is temp


There is a traditional restaurant just inside the Kala area that does very good food - I paid 800 leke which is more than I normally pay but it was a meal like I hadn't had for weeks, with vegetables too.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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