Kalaja

Top choice castle in Berat

Image by Rena Kuljovska Shutterstock

The Kala neighbourhood inside the castle's walls still lives and breathes; if you walk around this busy, ancient neighbourhood for long enough you'll invariably stumble into someone's courtyard thinking it's a church or ruin (no one seems to mind, though). In spring and summer the fragrance of camomile is in the air (and underfoot), and wildflowers burst from every gap between the stones, giving the entire sight a magical feel.

The highest point is occupied by the Inner Fortress, where ruined stairs lead to a Tolkienesque water reservoir. Views are spectacular in all directions, and guided tours are available from the entry gate for €10. It's a steep 10-minute walk up the hill from the centre of town.

The Kala quarter's biggest church, Church of the Dormition of St Mary (Kisha Fjetja e Shën Mërisë), is the site of the Onufri Museum. Ask at the Onufri Museum if you can see the other churches and tiny chapels in Kala, including St Theodore (Shën Todher), close to the citadel gates; the substantial and picturesque Church of the Holy Trinity (Kisha Shën Triades), below the upper fortress; and the little chapels of St Mary Blachernae (Shën Mëri Vllaherna) and St Nicholas (Shënkolli). Some of the churches date back to the 13th century. Also keep an eye out for the Red Mosque, by the southern Kala walls, which was the first in Berat and dates back to the 15th century.


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