A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
History, restoration, and daily life in Albania's Silver City
In "Saving the Silver City" (May/June 2009), I wrote of efforts to preserve Gjirokastra, an Ottoman merchant town in southern Albania. As an adviser to the Gjirokastra Conservation and Development Organization, I've been involved with the work here for 8 years. But I never grow tired of Gjirokastra, with its 13th-century castle overlooking steep slopes on which perch hundreds of distinctive tower houses with stone roofs, wooden balconies, and whitewashed stone walls. It's no wonder that the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you'll find links to the 19th-century despot Ali Pasha (see "Encounters with Ali Pasha") and to Enver Hoxha, the xenophobic communist leader of the later 20th century. Nearby are impressive ruins of classical cities such as Hadrianopolis and Antigoneia. From the cobbled streets that climb steeply out of the bazaar to the castle, I hope you enjoy these views of Gjirokastra, a unique treasure of cultural heritage.
Oliver Gilkes is a research associate at the University of East Anglia.