After a long time under the brutal communist regime, Albania was accepted in UNESCO World Heritage in 1989 giving the opportunity to its historical and natural attractions be protected and promoted in the international community.
Here we have prepared a short description of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Albania as they are the most visited attractions of Albania.
Gashi River & Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park
Located at the eastern part of the Albanian Alps, Gashi River natural reserve covers an area of 1261 ha. Together with the Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park was made part of Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe since 2017. Due to its geographical isolation the forests are protected and home to endangered species such as: Balkan lynx, Golden eagle, Western Capercaillie, chamois, brown bear etc.
Several trekking trails go through Gashi River natural reserve, making it one of best hiking places in Albania. During winter the park is closed by snow while during summer the Dobërdol shepherd village is thrived and local shepherds graze with their livestock. We use their alpine huts as shelters during our trekking tours “Peaks of the Balkans” or mountain bike tours in Albania.
The historical center of Gjirokaster was made part of UNESCO on 2005 while on 1960 was declared as a Museum-City. Gjirokaster is known for its characteristic ottoman architecture, 2-3 store stylish mansions, well-furnished and maintained which tells the economic status of the city in the 17-18th century. Located on the eastern side of the Wide Mountain near the stone pits, it’s not a surprise why everything in this town is made by stone, cobble streets, houses and rooftops.
All the cobblestone streets of the old town lead to the Old Bazaar, it’s not actually a bazaar rather than series of artisan shops and manufacturers with an authentic style of architecture. A souvenir shop of home equipment from the last era, a stone carving workshop (off course); a wood carving workshop;a small shop of beverages and food products collected by villages around, everything organic and handmade; a debonair Lady embroidering traditional clothes and rugs and the one that shouldn’t not miss in your trip to Albania: Dauti’s bakery, the oldest bakery in town where you can taste the best “byrek” ever. This small bazaar will take you plenty of time to explore but the experience is unique.
Limitless Albania founders, Fatmir and Gesi, are born and bred in this town and it is Gjirokaster which inspired them to be local guide in Albania. You can customize your visit to Gjirokaster as part of your private tour in Albania or find inspiration in the published tours.
According to the historians, Berat is one of 10 oldest settlements in Europe, continuously inhabited. The name “Berat” itself is the Turkish form of Belgrade, meaning “White City” in Old Slavonic language. And this is not the only name in its history. When the Desaretei tribe found the city in the 6th cent. BC they named it “Antipatreia”. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city was influenced by eastern one and remained until the rise of the Ottoman. During the Byzantine rule the city was named “Pulcheriopolis”.
Berat castle is the most dominant landmarks of the town and one the most visited tourist attractions in Albania. Founded in 3rd C.BC the castle was renovated multiple times during the centuries until came in form we see today. Other attractions in Berat you shouldn’t miss in your trip to Albania are the churches of the Byzantine era (Church of St. Mary of Blaherna (13th c.), the Bachelors’ Mosque, the National Ethnographic Museum, the Sultan’s Mosque (built between 1481 and 1512), Leaden Mosque (built in 1555) and the Gorica Bridge.Beside the castle upon the hill, two other quarters of Berat are Mangalemi and Gorica, divided by the Osumi river.
It is the fascinating architecture of these quarters that made Berat part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Albania in 2008. The architecture of Berat, manifests the harmonic coexistence of different religions and cultures in the same town. Sunnis, Orthodox, Bektashi and Jews have dwelled under the same roof for centuries and their marks are to be found in every path of the old town.
You can personalize your visit to Berat as part of your private tour in Albania or as part of Tour of the Balkan countries.
According to the famous Roman writer, Virgil; Butrint was founded by Hellenius, son of King Priam of Troy after the fall of the city. The antique city was inhabited by the Chaonian tribe. The early founding date back to 10th C.BC. while the core of the city as we can see today in our visits to Butrint(the Acropolis, Agora and Asclepius sanctuary are built during 4th C.BC.In 3rd C.BC Butrint fell under the influence of the Romans until in 44 BC, Caesar declared it a Roman colony and the most of the buildings we see now are of the Roman Era. The ancient city lost its political and economic power and became a Bishopric center in 12th century, until it was abandoned after an earthquake occurred and grounded its buildings.
It was Italian archaeologist Ugolini and later Albanian archaeologists Ceka who excavated the site, bringing to life its insane archeological heritage making it one of the richest sites in the Mediterranean. Butrint was listed as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Albania in 1992, and today is the most visited attractions in Albania.
Beside the tour of Butrint Archaeological Site we suggest to explore also to the surrounding Butrint Lake which is a National Park in Albania since 2000.