Gjirokastër Castle (Kalaja e Gjirokastrës), the most popular tourist attraction in Gjirokastër, dominates the town from up the hill, still a living memory of the city’s resistance against the wrath of those who once tried to put Albania down her knees. First attested documentary in 1336, the castle was the center of the Albanian feudal lords Zenevisë. However, some historians believe that the origin of the castle is older.
Like many historic landmarks, the Gjirokastër Castle (Kalaja e Gjirokastrës) suffered many alterations, and was used for various purposes during its existence. During the rule of Ali Pasha, the castle was a military fortress, while in the Second World War it served as a shelter for the city residents against aerial bombing. The castle’s prison was used extensively by Zog’s government and housed political prisoners during the more recent Communist regime.
Today, however, Kalaja e Gjirokastrës is a national monument, and military museum featuring captured artillery and memorabilia of the Communist resistance against German occupation. You can visit the tomb of the two Bektashi Babas, inside a small building tucked into the walls of the castle; the National Museum of Armaments inside what was once the Gjirokastër Prison; and the prison used by King Zog’s regime.
The castle is also the stage for the Gjirokastër National Folklore Festival (Festivali Folklorik Kombëtar i Gjirokastrës) which takes place here every five years.
Gjirokastër Castle (Kalaja e Gjirokastrës) is open all year round (April to September 09:00 to 19:00, October to March 09:00 to 17:00 ) with an admission price of 200 Lekë.
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