Albania: Gjirokaster

If you like Berat, you will love Gjirokastër – another UNESCO World Heritage town further south in Albania. The city dates back to the 13th century and has Byzantine Heritage, next came Orthodox Christianity, and finally Ottoman Empire took control for five centuries starting in 1417. The city is spread over steep hills with ultra steep narrow cobblestone streets leading up to the old town with traditional Ottoman architecture of houses with large windows, overhanging balconies, and rich decorations in and out. Several famous houses of rich merchants have been turned into museums, while others are boutique hotels, shops, and restaurants. But the main attraction in Gjirokaster is the massive fortress that sits above the already sky-high town. The Gjirokastër Fortress was built by Ottomans on the foundation of an old citadel, and was expanded and fortified many times with massive walls with towers, underground passages and several gates. And the views from the castles (after a steep climb to get here) down onto the historic Gjirokaster old town are a spectacular panorama.