Infobox Settlement
official_name = Gjirokastër
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image_caption = Gjirokastër, as seen from the Citadel


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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = ALB
subdivision_type1 = County
subdivision_name1 = Gjirokastër County
subdivision_type2 = District
subdivision_name2 = Gjirokastër District
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population_as_of = 2003
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population_total = 34000
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timezone = Central European Time
utc_offset = +1
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latd=40 |latm=04|lats=|latNS=N
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elevation_m = 300
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area_code =84
blank_name =Car Plates
blank_info =GJ
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Gjirokastër or Gjirokastra (Albanian IPA2|ɟɪɾokaˈstəɾ; _ru. Ljurocastru; _el. Αργυρόκαστρο, "Argyrókastro"), is a city in southern Albania at coord|40|04|N|20|08|E|type:city(30,000)_region:AL|display=inline,title with a population of around 34,000. Lying in the historical region of Epirus, it is also the capital of both the Gjirokastër District and the larger Gjirokastër County. Its old town is inscribed on the World Heritage List as "a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate." Located in the south of the country, at 300 meters above sea level, Gjirokastër is situated in a valley between the Gjerë mountains and the Drino River. The city is overlooked by a large castle (Kalaja e Gjirokastres) which dates back to Pre-Christian times.

The majority of Gjirokastrans are ethnic Albanians, with minorities of Greeks, Vlachs and Roma [ [http://www.gjirokastra.org/about_gjirokastra.html About Gjirokastra, gjirokastra.org] ] Gjirokastër is considered the center of the Greek community in Albania ["Given its large Greek-speaking population, the city of Gjirokastra (in Greek, Agyrocastro)","The concentration of ethnic Greeks inand around centres of Hellenism such as Saranda and Gjirokastra",http://www.da.mod.uk/colleges/csrc/document-listings/balkan/G97 Defense Academy of the United Kingdom] [ [http://mondediplo.com/maps/albanianmdv1999 Le Monde diplomatique - English edition - The Albanians, a scattered people ] ] .


: Αργυρόπολις) or "Argyrokastron" ("Silver Castle", Greek: Αργυρόκαστρον).

The city was part of the Byzantine Despotate of Epirus in the 14th century before passing to the Ottoman Empire in 1417. It was captured in 1811 by the Albanian-born Ali Pasha, who carved out his own semi-autonomous fiefdom in the southwestern Balkans. In the late 19th century, when the city was the capital of the sandjak of Ergiri in the Yanya vilayet, it became a centre of resistance to Turkish rule. The Assembly of Gjirokastër, a key event in the history of the Albanian liberation movement, was held there in 1880.

During the First Balkan War of 1912–1913, the city was claimed by Greece due to its large Greek population in the area of Dropull south of the cityFact|date=September 2008. It was held on three separate occasions by the Greek Army. However, it was awarded to Albania under the terms of the Treaty of London of 1913 and the Protocol of Florence of 17 December 1913 awarded Gjirokastër to Albania. [Dimitri Pentzopoulos, "The Balkan Exchange of Minorities and Its Impact on Greece", p. 28. C. Hurst & Co, 2002. ISBN 1850656746] . The Greek military returned in October-November 1914, during the First World War, and again captured Gjirokastër and the southern Albanian city of Korçë. In April 1916 the territory was annexed to Greece. The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 restored the pre-war "status quo", essentially upholding the border line decided in the 1913 Protocol of Florence, and the city was again returned to Albanian control. [Vassilis Nitsiakos, Constantinos Mantzos, "Negotiating Culture: Political Uses of Polyphonic Folk Songs in Greece and Albania", p. 197 in "Greece and the Balkans: Identities, Perceptions and Cultural Encounters", ed. Demetres Tziovas. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2003. ISBN 0754609987]

In April 1939, Gjirokastër was occupied by Italy and was annexed to that country along with much of the rest of Albania. During the Second World War, the Greek Army entered the city, because of its advance during the Greek-Italian conflicts in the area and stayed for a brief six months period, until capitulating to the Germans and returning the city to Italian command. After Italy's capitulation Germany invaded and took control in September 1943, but the city returned to Albanian control in 1944.

The postwar Communist regime developed the city as an industrial and commercial centre. It was elevated to the status of a "museum town", birthplace of the dictator Enver Hoxha, who had been born there in 1908. His house was converted into a museum which became a focal point of Hoxha's cult of personality.

Gjirokastër suffered severe economic problems following the end of communist rule in 1991. It was particularly badly affected by the 1997 collapse of a massive pyramid scheme which destabilised the entire Albanian economy. The city became the focus of a rebellion against the government of Sali Berisha and violent anti-government protests took place which eventually forced Berisha's resignation. On December 16 1997, Hoxha's house was blown up by unknown (but presumably anti-communist) attackers.

Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra (well-preserved southern Albanian towns bearing outstanding testimony to the Ottoman period in the Balkans)

State Party = ALB
Type = Cultural
Criteria = iii, iv
ID = 569
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 2005
Session = 29th
Extension = 2008
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569


Gjirokastër is principally a commercial centre with some industries, notably the production of foodstuffs, leather, and textiles.

Culture and places of interest

The city is remarkable for its great natural beauty, as well as his harmonious intercultural mix of Albanian, Byzantine and Ottoman heritage and tradition, which is obvious on the many historical buildings and sites. Many houses in Gjirokastër have a distinctive local style that has earned the city the nickname "Town of the Stones", because most of the old houses have roofs covered with stones. Due to Gjirokastër's importance to the Communist regime, its city centre was spared at least some of the thoughtless redevelopment that afflicted other cities in Albania, but its designation as a "museum town" unfortunately did not translate into maintaining the old town. Consequently, many of its historic buildings have become dilapidated, a problem that is only slowly being resolved.

The Citadel dominates the town and overlooks the strategically important route along the river valley. It is open to visitors and contains a military museum featuring captured artillery and memorabilia of the Communist resistance against German occupation, as well as a captured United States Air Force plane to commemorate the Communist regime's struggle against the "imperialist" powers. The citadel dates back to the 18th century and its construction was ordered by Gjin Bue Shpata, a local tribal leader. Additions were built during the 19th and 20th centuries by Ali Pasha Tepelene and the Government of King Zog. Today it possesses five towers and houses a clock tower, a church, water fountains, horse stables, and many more amenities. The northern part of the castle was eventually turned into a prison by Zog's government and housed political prisoners during the communist regime.

Gjirokastër also features an old bazaar which was originally built in the 17th century, but which had to be rebuilt in the 19th century after it burned down. There are more than 200 homes preserved as "cultural monuments" in Gjirokastër today, and it is also the site of the National Albanian Folk Festival held every four years (most recently in 2005).

When the town was first proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List in 1988, ICOMOS experts were nonplussed by a number of modern constructions which detracted from the old town's appearance. The historic core of Gjirokastër was finally inscribed in 2005, 15 years after its original nomination.


The first Albanian school of Gjirokastër was Drita School opened in 1908. Eqerem Çabej University of Gjirokastra is the highest education school.

Villages Of Gjirokastër

* Andon Poci
* Asim Zenel
* Cepos
* Dervican
* Erind
* Frashtan
* Fushëbardhë
* Gerhot
* Ghiorgnzzati
* Golëm
* Jergucat
* Labova e Kryqit
* Labova e Zhapes
* Kakavia
* Kolonjë
* Kordhiq
* Krioner
* Lazarat
* Libohova
* Labova e Kryqit
* Mashkullorë
* Nivan
* Palokastër
* Picar
* Poliçan
* Prongji
* Valare
* Vrisera
* Zhej
* Zhulat
* Pepeli

Famous Gjirokastrits

* Alexandros Vasileiou [http://www.kenef.phil.uoi.gr/en/dynamic/bookfull.php?Book_ID=29915&contents=] (1760-1818), merchant and philosopher
* Eqrem Çabej, ethnologist
* Nelson Çabej, [Çabej, Nelson: Autoktonia e shqiptarëve në studimet gjermane, page 176] molecular biologist
* Andon Zako Çajupi, writer
* Adil Çarçani, former Prime Minister, freedom fighter against Italian occupation
* Enver Hoxha, First Secretary of the Albanian Party of Labor
* Koto Hoxhi , [http://www.mcclear.net/teaching_in_albania.htm ] teacher and participant in developing the first alphabet of Albanian
* Ismail Kadare, writer, Nobel Prize candidate
* Viktor Kalemi, Fact|date=September 2008 translator and former Ambassador
* Saim Kokona, cinematographer
* Musine Kokalari, author
* Vasil Marka, Fact|date=September 2008 chemist
* Omer Nishani, anti-fascist theorist and freedom fighter
* Baba Rexheb, Bektashi religious leader
* Avni Rustemi, Member of the first democratic parliament of Albania
* Zihni Sako, Fact|date=September 2008 writer and liberty advocate
* Çerçiz Topulli, Fact|date=September 2008 Albanian resistance fighter
* Haki Toska,Fact|date=September 2008 1912 independence fighter
* Asim Zeneli, Fact|date=September 2008 WWII freedom fighter
* Fatos Nano, former Socialist Party Leader, former Prime Minister of Albania
* Bashkim Ahmeti, Fact|date=September 2008 artist
* Andreas Lolis, Fact|date=September 2008 sculptor
* Ermir Asllani,Fact|date=September 2008 fisik teacher,tourist specialist

ee also

* List of cities in Albania
* History of Albania
* Geography of Albania


* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9036947 "Gjirokastër." Encyclopædia Britannica,2006]
* [http://columbia.thefreedictionary.com/Gjirokast%EBr "Gjirokastër or Gjinokastër." The Columbia Encyclopedia (2004)]

External links

* [http://hotelkalemi.tripod.com/index_files/Page322.htm Photo Gallery of Gjirokastër from Hotel Kalemi]
* [http://www.shqiperia.com/foto/galeria/gjirokastra?&page=1 Photos of Gjirokastër]
* [http://www.edwebproject.org/balkans/gjirokastra.html Photo gallery] by Andy Carvin
* [http://www.GjirokastraOnline.com Gjirokastra Online] by Klodian Lula & SIFE UGJ

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