Berat is a dreamy little town in Armenia. It first became popular when the inhabitants of Berat added 5 windows to each of their homes in order to become known as the “Town of 1000 windows” across the world. This was devised as a plan in order to attract travellers from across the globe to see this wonder and in turn help boost their earning and livelihood. However, one amongst them had added 6 and not 5 windows. You can expect that the townspeople would fret over this, however, in the case of this Armenian town, they were positively furious! So much so that they tied weights to the man and threw him into the river, thereby, killing him! Little did they know that actually years later the revelation of this drastic occurrence would be the very thing to get them fame. Eyeballs turned towards Berat when the story was passed down and travellers actually were more curious to come see the famed house with 6 windows! Now, if you are intending on going and paying a visit to this town then here, we have some suggestions as to what you can do during your time there.
How to reach: Fly down to Tirana and take a bus from Tirana to Berat.
Best time to visit: April to June, September to October.
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Dated from the 13th century, the castle in this charming town is home to many Byzantine era churches as well as Ottoman mosques. The walls were horrifically burned down by their Roman rulers in 200 BC but again came to be rebuilt. A walk around the castle is a chance for you to learn more about this town that you are visiting and its history. Thus, although today it stands in a damaged form, it is still testament to what it has once been and all that it has seen. Glance upon the somewhat broken walls and let your mind play its tricks and tell you tales of all that this castle may once have been.
Churches left behind from another era, cobblestone streets for you tread upon with your thoughts and walk amidst a neighbourhood of stone houses. Spot the Ottoman facades for you to gaze at for hours at a stretch. Where might you do all that? In Berat’s very own Gorica region which seeks to transport you to another time and era. Its key attraction is the bridge in the centre with the river meandering and flowing right below it. Grab some local food and head here for a picnic in this inviting place far away from home. The beauty of Berat truly lies in these small, simple and yet so scenic places that it has you stepping onto effortlessly.
Onufri Iconography Museum
So, Berat is also home to specialty museums, i.e., museums dedicated not just to the general history of the area but to the history of some particular aspects of that history. The National Iconographic Museum of Onufri, Berat is dedicated to iconography. What is iconography? Iconography is “the visual images and symbols used in a work of art or the study or interpretation of these.” Onufri was a 16th century painter who resided in Berat. His work has adorned cathedrals and other places of historical significance. The museum stands in remembrance of his contributions, his skill and his fine artwork. And if specialty museums interest you then there is also the National Ethnographic Museum for you to pay a visit to!
Church of Saint Trinity
The Holy Trinity Church is pegged as being one of the most beautiful and picturesque buildings in all of Berat. The church has been here since the 14th century. You can go pay your respects. But most of all it is visited by travellers for its sheer beauty. It stands on the edge overlooking a valley of green stretches and cobblestone streets right below. It is the point where you can see the stunning landscapes of Berat together right before your eyes. This church makes for a simple and scenic visit of you looking at its architecture along with the natural backdrop of the rest of Berat right behind it.
Exploring Mangalemi Old Town is one of the favourite things for one to do during their trip to Berat. The river that runs through the town passes through and intersects the town into two, Gorica and Mangalem. This side of town in the ancient period used to serve as the Ottoman quarter. The houses here line up in a manner that they gradually lead towards the hillier parts of Berat, allowing you to walk on the path between them to be led higher up to points from where you can see all of Berat right before your eyes. You can visit the Berat’s Dervish House and even the Bachelor’s Mosque. A trip to Berat is for the ones who don’t just like reading about history but prefer to walk upon its pages right through the living breathing streets of a town that has so gingerly preserved its past.
Also, of course, do not forget to go looking for that 6th window! It is the famed one after all. It maybe how you and
I even came across the name of Berat in the first place. So, take those long walks and strolls and let your exploring begin, not just for the physical places but also for the stories that you may get to hear here through the actual inhabitants.
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