Berat or Berati, also known “Town of Thousand Windows”, is a beautiful and historic city of Albania. Due to its significance in history, UNESCO had declared Berat in the World Heritage list in the year 2008. The 2,400 year old city is one of the oldest cities of Albania, inhabited since the 6th century B.C. Even today, Berat has retained its age old charm with some magnificent sights.
The biggest and the most significant attraction of this ancient city is the Berat castle. Though the castle is quite damaged today, it still exudes the ancient charisma and allures the visitors with its fascinating structure. The castle is built on the left bank of the Osum River and hence, can be accessed only from the South. The exact year when the castle was built is not known, but the buildings inside the castle were built in 13th century. The castle had about 20 churches and one mosque, although most of these are ruined now. The buildings inside have a distinguishable architecture and hence have been preserved as cultural monuments.
There are many churches inside the castle which are well maintained. The most famous church of them is the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae, which dates back to the 13th century. The church is beautifully decorated in mural paintings created by Nikolla, son of Onufri, Albania’s most famous painter. The Church of St. Theodre has wall paintings done by Onufri himself. There is also museum dedicated to Onufri in the St. Nicholas cathedral, which is worth visiting. You can find the work of Onufri, his son Nikolla and some other painters, in the museum.
The other attraction of Berat is the Helveti Tekke (a place of gathering for Sufi brotherhood). Although the Tekke was rebuilt in 1782 by Ahmet Kurt Pasha, the monument was originally supposed to have been built in 15th century. It is magnificently decorated with wood carving, paintings and frescoes. The ceiling is decorated with 14 carat gold plates in the Baroque style.
Berat, the “Town of Thousand Windows” is truly a wonderful city with some amazing structures and monuments.