Berat is a picturesque historical town in south-central Albania, an UNESCO world heritage site and probably the most beautiful town of Albania. The outstanding well-preserved white-washed stone houses of historical Berat perhaps are the best in the Balkans, forming the unique lower historical core and the beautiful Medieval Citadel district on top of the high hill with wonderful St Trinity Church, dominating the whole area and providing striking view. Due to a number of large windows of the old decorated houses overlooking the historical core, Berat is known as “the city of one-thousand windows” and in 1961 was declared as a Museum city. Berat lies on the beautiful slopes of the wild Tomorri Mountain /2416 meters/ where the Castle of the Berat city rises in a predominant hill.
Berat is also set on the right bank of the Osum River which 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.
You can visit the Monastery of Shën Spiridhoni (Saint Spyridon) in Gorica. In 1417, the Ottomans occupied Berat and this conquest left its mark with the building of monuments to the Islamic faith, such as the Xhamia e Kuqe (Red Mosque) inside the castle, the Xhamia e Plumbit (1555), the Xhamia e Beqarëve (Celibataires Mosque)(1872) in Mangalem quartier but also Xhamia Mbret (King Mosque) (16th century), and the Halveti Tekke or Tariqa in the medieval center . Other sites worth visiting are the Ethnographic Museum, situated inside an 18th century çardak building, and the Edward Lear Gallery of Art, a well-known English painter who painted much of Berat and Albania. In addition Berat is known for its traditional dishes. It is worth tasting specialties such as pula me përsheshand çorba e Tomorrit in the local restaurants. You should also visit the Saint Mountain of Tomorr .
The town of Berat is one of the oldest in Albania, keeping the earliest traces of human habitation and settlement dating from 2600-1800 BC. The long history of Berat is in fact the history of encounters between different civilizations and people, so this secular and multi-ethnic structure is one of the main pillars of the Berat’s rich cultural heritage. The city of Berat was composed of two fortifications on both shores of the Osum River and is adorned with 40 Byzantine churches and some 30 mosques.
The name of Berat is derived via the Ottoman Turkish from the older Bel(i)grad /meaning “white city” in Slavic or Belgrade/, under which name it was known in Greek, Latin and Slavic documents during the early and Late Middle Ages. In the 17th century Berat was major merchant and craft center of the Ottoman Balkans specializing in wood carving.
Above Berat is a mountaintop fortress rebuilt by the Byzantines in the 13th century, with a view over the broad Osum River valley, serpentine river and snow-capped peaks. Inside Berat’s walls there are dwelling houses and the “Onufri Museum”. Paintings and icons by the outstanding Greek painter Onufri – Onouphrios Neokastrites who worked in the regions that presently are on the territory of Greece, Albania and Macedonia during the 16th century, in the frames of the former Ohrid Archbishopric are also exhibited there as well as various liturgical objects. The Onouphrios’ artistic spirit was to give rise to a school of Albanian icon-painting which we will call the “School of Berat”. Greek manuscripts on purple parchment written in silver and golden lettera, that are some of the world’s most ancient and most remarkable religious manuscripts, the Purple Codex of Berat, dating back to the 6th century AD and the Golden Codex of Berat, from the 9th century, are nowadays kept in Central State Archive in Tirana are written and artfully crafted in Berat.