05 Oct EXPAT NOMADS EXPLORE BERAT – THEIR FIRST UNESCO SITE
Our favorite tour company, Albanian Tour Guides picked us up early on a weekday for an hour and forty-minute drive to Berat, UNESCO Heritage Site. Our driver was Jack and we could not have asked for a more considerate guide and safe driver.
On arrival, we drove to the top of the cliffs above the city to explore Berat Castle., a 13th century fortress built by the Ottomans. It is still lived in today with churches, hotels, restaurants, and shops scattered among the many homes. Walking along the outer edge of the contained community, we found the protestant red church, still in great shape with mosaic art on the inner walls. Unfortunately, water damage and aging left only vague images and partial scenes which were not suitable for photos. Sometimes the only way to really see an ancient site is to go visit it in person instead of following an Expat Nomad’s travel blog. Continuing our walk, we observed ruins from other protestant churches and Muslim mosques. FInally, we went to a scenic overlook where you had a panoramic view of the city of Berat.
On the way down the hill (mountain) we stopped at the Ethnographic Museum, a fancy world for a historical cultural museum. We walked through the rooms of a 13th century Ottoman home with typical furnishings and clothing displays.
There was a room where the family met and enjoyed being together as a group. The family room included beautiful photos from the 13th century.
Next, we saw separate rooms which were mainly used by the Ottoman women and men as they did their daily activities and visited with each other. The last room in the house was where the family entertained visitors. Of special interest is the louvered panels above the entrance door. In this room, guests would arrive with their son to discuss a future wedding. The young ladies of the house would go upstairs prior to the guest arrival and position themselves where they could see their potential husbands and listen in on the discussion. You just think you invented the practice of eavesdropping; these were real professionals.
Outside the home were typical tools and equipment used by the Ottomans in the 13th century. As an engineer, I took special note of the grist mill used to grind grain and the large bellows which was cycled by turning a small wheel.
Berat – Lower City
Our last stop was a visit to the lower city. One section was built on the hill with white house above white house. All the windows have the same design. From a distance, the homes appear to be a solid wall of window, earning Berat the title of “the city of a 1,000 windows”.