Museum town - Berat
Berat Travel Blog› entry 12 of 18 › view all entries
I head out of Tirana to go to the second museum town of Albania. The first part of the trip is surprisingly smooth. The road is in an unusual good condition for Albania - there are only a few potholes in the first couple of hours. And the bus is actually driving pretty fast. But then when we are just about to get t Berat I realize where all the potholes have gone - they were meeting up for the annual family reunion in the giant pothole family. This year the reunion is on the road just north of Berat.
drives into Berat and immediately I am impressed with the city.
I get out from the bus and try to find the place I got a flier from back in Tirana and I start walking down to the river and take the small bridge across to the other side of the river. I walk up the hill towards the place I want to stay. As I walk along I am getting caught by a British bloke who is actually the owner of this brand new place - so I have no problem finding the house. The door to the garden would be easy to recognize anyway given it is clearly labeled with number 295. Street names in Albania in general and Berat in particular is not really something people use. And I think the number on this house is the only house number on any house in the entire Berat area.
I get into
the place and realize one of the people I had met in Tirana a couple of days
before is still staying here - he is feeling a bit poorly though.
I get ready
to go out to do a bit of sightseeing around the town. I really want to go into
the narrow streets with all the pretty houses. But then I realize - what I saw
from the bus wasn’t really Berat at all. The old town of Berat is actually made
up by three separate districts. Gorica where I am staying - it is considered
the poor part of the city and the least attractive because the sun is not
reaching this part of the city during the winter - hence the local believes
this part of town is too cold in the winter. But contrary to the other parts of
the city the houses here in Gorica actually got small gardens. On the other
side of the river are Mangalem which are the part of the city I saw from the
bus when I drove into the city. This is probably the most photogenic part of
the town and it is also home to the biggest mosques in the city.
visited Mangalem I walk up a straight road which is very steep. At first I had
actually thought Mangalem were the main attraction in Berat - but it is not.
The main attraction in Berat is the Kalasa district which is at the end of this
steep road. The road just goes on and on and there is no part of it which is
less steep where you can relax a bit. I am reasonable fit and still think this
road is pretty hard to walk up - I can only imagine what older people living up
in the Kalasa district is feeling when they need to go down to the main part of
town. Apparently some people just never leave the Kalasa district. When Berat
were admitted to the UNESCO list the local medias interview an old woman and
she was asked what she thought were the most important changed in the modern
part of Berat during the last decade - and she replied she had not left the
Kalasa district the last 30 years because the walk up and down the hill were
just too much.
I finally get to the top of the road and the top is the Kalasa district which surrounded by a wall. This district is the actually sort of a fortress build on the top of the hill. From up here you can see all over the surrounding area. The old town seems well defended and it is easy to see why somebody would choose this location for a fortress. The main feature of the district is definitely the walls of the city - but there s also a lot of the small old churches and nice old houses around this part of the city.
Most of the houses in this part of the city are several hundred years old and when they are repaired it is required to restore them in a way so they look like the rest of the city. When I walk around the city I see a couple of people carrying large beams up the hills to do some repairs on one of the old houses. They did use a truck to drive them up most of the way but they still had to carry them the last bit of the way.
getting a bit late and I get ready to walk down the steep road.