Thursday, November 10, 2011

Itinerar albanez 12. Gjirokaster - orasul muzeu / Albanian Itinerary 12. Museum-Town, Gjirokaster

In 2005, Gjirokaster became an objective in the UNESCO world treasury, and in 1961 the Albanian government granted the title of "museum-town".

Known as Argyropolis (Silver City) sau Argyrokastron (Silver Castle), the settlement appeared in the Vth. century BC, but was mentioned in written documents only in 1386, by a Byzantine chronicler. The Ottomans conquered the region in the XVth century. In 1812, Ali Pasha, the Ottoman leader of Albanian origin, known as "The Lyon of Ioannina" due to his courage, feared and respected by his anemies, became the master of the town. He enlarged the Citadel, and constructed an aqueduct in length of 10 km.

Gjirokaster is the native place of the stalinist leader Enver Hoxha but also of the famous writer Ismail Kadare. This is how he described his town: "The traveler seeing it for the first time was tempted to compare it to something, but soon found that impossible, for the city rejected all comparisons. In fact, it looked like nothing else.[...]...it was surely the only place in the world where if you slipped and fell in the street, you might well land on the roof of a house - a peculiarity known most intimately to drunks. Yes, a very strange city indeed. In some places you could walk down the street, stretch out your arm, and hang your hat on a minaret. Many things in it were simply bizarre, and other seemed to belong in a dream." (Kadare, Chronicle in Stone)


We arrived very early in the morning and left our car in the main square (100 lek). Climbing on feet the streets in Qafe i Pazarit 9The Old Bazaar), we saw small shops with different merchandises. A local raki or a Turkish coffee would have been fine but the restaurants on the street had no clients yet.


The entrance fee in the Citadel is of 200 lek (for foreigners), that's 2 euros, including the Military Museum. Visiting hours are 8.30 - 19.30. 


The Citadel was built in the second half of the 8th century. The rulers extended it, the last extension being that of the Ali Pasha. It has the role of prison even for Ottomans and it continued during the communist regime, till 1968. The political enemies have been imprisoned here, and the executions were performed in the small court near the cells.


Not much is to be seen today. Some cannons, mostly British, buyed or diplomatic gifts. The sultans kept these citadels deliberately with little armament because they wanted to prevent the rulers to gain too much power. A Lockheed T-33, used by the Americans during the cold war, after having technical problems, was forced down near Tirana, in 1957. It was brought at the Military Museum as a "war trophy".


In the larger square it is a stage where once in four years the National Folklore Festival takes place. In the eastern end of the Citadel is the nice Clock Tower, built also by the Ali Pasha. A nice panorama over the city is offered from the Citadel.


We returned to the parking on other small streets. Asking about a certain museum-house, a man led us to the door of a little mosque and left us there. We took off our shoes and entered. A very simple interior inspired serenity and peace.


We closed the circle coming back at the parking. I regret to quit so soon such an interesting place, with so much to offer.

Cunoscuta mai intai ca Argyropolis (Orasul de Argint) sau Argyrokastron (Castelul de Argint), asezarea a aparut din sec. V i.e.n. dar a fost atestata documentar abia in 1386 de catre un cronicar bizantin. In sec. al XV-lea  intra in stapanire otomana si aceasta isi pune amprenta asupra asezarii, prin casele construite aici de catre nobili. In 1812, Ali Pasha devine stapanul orasului, pe care il inzestreaza cu un apeduct de 10 km lungime, din care n-a mai ramas aproape nimic. In timpurile moderne, Gjirokaster trece prin razboiul greco-italian (1940), fiind stapanit cand de unii, cand de altii.

Gjirokaster este locul de nastere al liderului stalinist Enver Hoxha dar si a scriitorului Ismail Kadare. Acesta din urma a scris despre locul nasterii sale: "Calatorul care il vede prima data este tentat sa il compare cu ceva, dar curand isi da seama ca este imposibil, pentru ca orasul respinge orice comparatie. De fapt, nu arata ca nimic altceva. [...]...era, cu siguranta, singurul loc din lume unde daca alunecai si cadeai pe strada, puteai foarte bine ateriza pe acoperisul unei case, o caracteristica stiuta foarte bine de betivi. Da, intr-adevar un oras foarte ciudat. In unele locuri, te puteai plimba pe strada, intinzandu-ti bratul si asezandu-ti palaria in varful unui minaret. Multe lucruri de aici pareau pur si simplu bizare, iar altele pareau sa apartina unui vis." (Kadare, Cronica in piatra)

Cu siguranta Gjirokaster merita mai mult decat cele doua ore pe care i le-am acordat, pe drumul de intoarcere din Albania. Pentru obiectivele sale turistice si pentru atmosfera orasului vechi, merita macar 2-3 zile. Drumul de le Ksamil la Gjirokaster l-am descris aici http://travelinghawk.blogspot.com/2011/10/itinerar-albanez-2-de-la-sud-spre-nord.html, asa ca acum vom urca de pe soseaua principala, direct in orasul vechi, cu casele sale catarate pe pantele muntelui Mali i Gjere.
Oprim intr-o parcare, in piata principala a orasului, la poalele Cetatii sau Citadelei (Kalaja). Cost: 100 lek, adica 1 euro. Chiar in parcare atrag atentia doua monumente:  cel al lui Cerciz Topulli, luptator pentru independenta si pentru invatamant in limba albaneza de la inceputul secolului al XX-lea si monumentul celor doua eroine din al II-lea razboi mondial, Bule Naipi si Persefoni Kokedhima, ucise de trupele fasciste.
 monumentul lui Cerciz Topulli
De fapt, se poate urca cu masina pana la intrarea in Citadela, dar noi o luam pe jos, mai intai pe niste stradute in panta, cu case vechi, restaurante fara musterii la ora asta matinala, mici magazine de antichitati sau artizanat. Ne aflam in Qafa e Pazarit, adica in bazarul cu strazi pietruite, pastrate in bune conditii din sec. XVII-XVIII. Aici batea o data inima economica a vaii Drinosului. Un raki albanez sau o cafea turceasca ar putea fi savurate aici, daca nu ar fi inca prea devreme...
Apoi, urcam pe serpentine largi. Din cand in cand mai trece cate o masina pe langa noi sau cate un localnic, calare pe magar.
intrarea in cetate
Intrarea costa 200 lek/persoana, incluzand si Muzeul militar. Acesta este partea intunecoasa, la propriu, a vizitei. Orele intre care se poate vizita cetatea sunt 8.30 - 19.30
Iesim apoi pe prima terasai, pe care se vad piese de tun din arsenalul lui Ali Pasha. Majoritatea sunt britanice, cumparate sau daruri diplomatice. Politica curtii otomane era aceea de a tine asemenea cetati necorespunzator inarmate pentru a nu permite guvernatorilor sa castige prea multa putere. Ali Pasha, liderul otoman de origine albaneza, nu a tinut insa cont de acest lucru si a infiintat o scoala de artilerie si un atelier de produs ghiulele pentru tun.

Tot aici se afla si ce a mai ramas, adica carcasa, unui avion Lockheed T-33, utilizat de catre fortele americane in timpul razboiului rece si obligat sa aterizeze langa Tirana, in 1957, dupa ce a avut probleme tehnice. Considerat "trofeu de razboi" a fost adus aici in 1969, pentru a fi expus la Muzeul Armelor.
 tunuri, sec. 19
 avionul "spion"
Citadela a fost construita in a doua jumatate a secolului al 8-lea si a primit forma sa actuala in 1490, fiind reconstruita de catre sultanul Bayazid al II-lea. Avea trei porti si cinci turnuri de aparare, ale caror urme se mai vad inca. O alta extindere a sa a survenit intre 1811-1812, sub conducerea lui Ali Pasha.

Folosita ca si inchisoare si in timpul stapanirii imperiului otoman, Citadela a servit aceluiasi scop pana in 1968, aici fiind intemnitati condamnatii politic ai regimului comunist. Executarea lor avea loc in mica curte din stanga celulelor.

In curtea urmatoare, mult mai mare, se afla o scena pe care, incepand cu anul 1968, o data la patru ani, se desfasoara Festivalul National de Folclor.
scena Festivalului National de Folclor
La capatul de est al curtii se afla constructia frumoasa a Turnului cu Ceas, ridicata la ordinul aceluiasi Ali Pasha din Tepelene, supranumit "Leul din Ioannina" pentru vitejia recunoscuta si de dusmanii sai dar si pentru firea sa plina de cruzime.
 Turnul cu Ceas
De pe zidurile Citadelei, orasul ni se asterne la picioare si privirea zboara, de-a lungul raului Drinos, pana departe.
 panorama de la Citadela
Ne intoarcem spre iesire, trecand prin alte parti ale Citadelei. Vizitatori sunt foarte putini la ora asta matinala,  dar se pare ca nu lipsesc de obicei. Orasul Gjirokaster, intrat in patrimoniu UNESCO in 2005, a fost declarat oras-muzeu inca din anul 1961.
Iesiti din cetate, trecem pe cateva stradute admirand arhitectura originala a caselor, care i-a atras porecla de "orasul de piatra". Aici, casele sunt acoperite cu placi de piatra cioplite, acoperisurile acoperindu-se unele pe altele din cauza diferentelor de teren. Uneori ai impresia ca vei calca intr-adevar pe acoperis, nu pe strada.
Intrebam pe cineva despre o anume casa-muzeu si el ne conduce...intr-o moschee mica, lasandu-ne acolo, in usa. Ne descaltam si intram. Interiorul este izbitor de simplu si e o liniste absoluta. Nimic din stralucirea marilor moschei vizitate pe aiurea...
Incheiem cercul, reajungand in parcare pe o alta strada, dupa ce mai surprind cateva instantanee in acest oras pe care imi pare rau ca il parasesc atat de repede.


27 comments:

Liliana said...

Panorama de la Citadela e superba!
Nu pot sa nu remarc Kristos intr-una din fotografii si nici sa nu vad ca semnele turistice sunt universal maro. Pare mai faina zona asta decat celelalte, impresia mea.

Traveling Hawk said...

Observatiile sunt corecte, Liliana. Kristos nu e rar in zona. Pe de o parte, multi albanezi sunt ortodocsi. Pe de alta parte, exista in ALbania o minoritate greaca destul de insemnata, ceea ce a si facut ca Grecia sa-si revendice mereu acest teritoriu.
Zona de munte e frumoasa (si inca n-am fost noi unde trebuia, acolo, in nord, la granita cu Kosovo) dar si litoralul e frumos.

Helma said...

Hello Traveling Hawk,

you currently have a lot of information put down and that's really nice to read. So you see Neit only pictures of distant areas but also the information that goes with it. And 2 euros entrance is almost virtually free.

Greetings, Helma

Traveling Hawk said...

Thank you, Helma, for your comment.

VP said...

You latest images were quite familiar, in the sense that the places weren't so different from here. Now it is another story, we clearly have turned a very interesting page...

Traveling Hawk said...

Thanks, VP! That's the reason I believe that the interior of the country is much more interesting than the Riviera. I regret we had no time to visit Berat too, which preserves Turkish traditional architecture. May be next time.

Randy said...

I love all of these photos and then you end with the most loveliest of them all.

Traveling Hawk said...

Thank you, Randy, for the kind words.

Life Ramblings said...

such a lovely place with a great sense of history.

Traveling Hawk said...

Thanks for the visit, Life Ramblings.

pietrzyk said...

Wonderful series.Greetings Andrzej.

Traveling Hawk said...

Thank you, Andrzej!

Joop Zand said...

Lovely to read and good photo's, i'ts allways a pleasure to visit your blog.

Greetings and thanks for your comments.

Joop

Scott said...

What a wonderful visit with the little village and the ruins and the homes. Thanks for taking us along.

Traveling Hawk said...

Thanks for the comment, Joop!

Traveling Hawk said...

You are welcome, Scott! Thanks for the comment.

cartim said...

Wowwwww , SUPERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR , scuze , are Albania asa ceva atat de frumos si pitoresc ?

Poate fac si eu un efort pentru a ajunge intr-acolo....

Francisca said...

What a delightful tour you've taken us on! I have no problem seeing why this charming town Gjirokaster was added to the World Heritage sites list. It's such a contrast to Tirana I visited in 2009.

Traveling Hawk said...

Cartim, cred ca ar merita "efortul" asta! Multumesc pentru comentariu.

Traveling Hawk said...

Francisca, thanks for your comment! Tirana is not much, as I read in the travel guides, so I haven't been there. I preferred smaller places, with atmosphere.

magda said...

Beautiful place, rightly UNESCO protects!
Wonderful castles, well-preserved houses!
The photos you exceptional!
Very I liked and textiles!
Many greetings and good week!

Traveling Hawk said...

Thank you so much, Magda, for your kind comment!

J_on_tour@jayzspaze said...

A very unusual and interesting place that looks like it has been built on a plain in the foothills. I could spend a bit of time in the sloped street, climbing the hill and ... sitting in the last photo.

Doug Hickok said...

Your posts are very intriguing. I am drawn toward the fascinating shops along the narrow streets and the stone ruins. And many more settings too. These are wonderful journeys! Thank you.

Traveling Hawk said...

Ha, ha, that would be nice, J_on_tour! Gjirokaster is an interesting place, which merits a trip.

Traveling Hawk said...

Thank you, Doug! There is a great variety of touristic objectives in Europe, due to different cultures, different history, different backgrounds (I am refering here to the founders of the nations), and this is more valid when one speaks about the Balkans. Those are all interesting countries, less known because of the former communist regimes. Now they are opening to the tourism, and even still poor from an economic point of view, they have rich cultures and traditions which will attract many tourists in the future. I am convinced.

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