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Through these discussions I am going to publish short articles about Albania's major attractions. There is a lot to see in this country of eagles, which this year is celebrating the 100 years of Independence. November 28th 1912 - November 28th 2012.
Gjirokastra, the Stone City
Gjirokastra (also spelled Gjirokastër) is a town in southern Albania which in 2005 was included on the list of World Heritage by UNESCO. It is a historic city and placed on slopes of the Drino River valley, with beautiful scenery and bordered by high mountains.
Known as the "City of a Thousand Stairs" Gjirokastra is characterized by cobblestone streets and Ottoman-era houses with stone roofs and wooden balconies. Gjirokastra's historic castle is located on top of a hill. The city has a troubled past, most recently including being center for Italian fascist invaders.
Gjirokastra is also the city of birth of one of the most famous Albanian writer, known worldwide and published in many languages, twice nominee for the Nobel Prize: Ismail Kadare. Recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters in 2009, Kadare is a honorific personality well respected in Europe and worldwide. Many of his successful books were inspired from his city of birth, and one of them is called CHRONICLE IN STONE (http://www.laurahird.com/newreview/chronicleinstone.html). Gjirokastra was also the place of birth of Enver Hoxha, the former dictator of the communist regime (1944-1991).
This city carries a long and wonderful history in it. Its beautiful story has inspired many artists to create poems, songs, stories, etc. It's also known as the Stone City and is a major center of tourism development for cultural heritage. In the cobbled streets you may find traditional old markets (bazaars) that seem to welcome all those passersby willing to go back in time. There is also a wonderful XIII century castle that recalls the time of medieval rulers as well as those of the former communist regime. And many houses have been turned into inns to welcome travelers, showing off one citizens’ virtue as very hospitable people.