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Town of a Thousand Windows
Berat is aptly nicknamed as the 'Town of a Thousand Windows' due to the presence of numerous huge windows adorning the ancient homes overlooking the town. Housed in south-central Albania and the capital of the County of Berat, it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an excellent representation of a well-preserved Ottoman town. Berat is well-known for its splendid historic architecture and gorgeous picturesque beauty.
Kick-start the trip by heading out to the Kalaja Castle. The tallest point is occupied by the Inner Fortress, where the ruined stairs result in a Tolkienesque water reservoir. The breathtaking vistas are truly splendid in all directions. To reach there, it is a steep ten minute walk up the hill from the centre of town. During spring and summer, the wildflowers spring from every gap between the stones, making it a very pretty place.
Do head over to the Mangalem Quarter - a traditional Muslim quarter. Within it, there are three grand mosques. One of the most ancient one in Albania is the 16th century Sultan's Mosque. It features a gorgeous carved ceiling and was particularly designed with acoustic holes to enhance the quality of sound during meetings. Another one is the 16th-century Lead Mosque. It is named as such due to the lead coating its sphere-shaped dome. The last but not the least, is the 19th-century Bachelors' Mosque, perched down by the Osumi River. It is home to beautiful paintings on its external walls.
Situated on a cliff ledge below the citadel is the little chapel of St. Michael, best glimpsed from the Gorica quarter across the river. The site of the Onurfi Museum, is the Church of the Dormition of St. Mary. Dating as far back as 1797, it was constructed on the foundations of a 10th-century church. Onurfi's gorgeous 16th-cenutyr artworks are showcased on the ground level along with a spectacularly gilded iconostasis. Do drop by at the Ethnographic museum - housed in an 18th-century Ottoman house. It is home to traditional attires and the tools utilized by silversmiths and weavers. It also exhibits kitchens, bedrooms and guest rooms in traditional style.
When it comes to shopping, souvenirs include stone carving, wood cheeping, and textile products. As for cuisine, don't forget to indulge in local fare such as pies (byrek) with meat and leek, stuffed zucchini oven, pispili with corn flour and lamb / goat meat served with vegetables and fresh dairy of the area. Some of the local deserts in Berat are kabuni with raisins (a sweet rice dish), baklava, marmalade (gliko) of walnut, fig, plum, etc.
The stay options in Berat are abundant with the best luxury hotels, cheap accommodations and rental apartments available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
Berat experiences Mediterranean climate. The best time to visit would be from June to September for the temperatures are pleasant during this period.