Top choice in Berat

Hidden behind the crumbling walls of the fortress that crowns the hill above Berat is the whitewashed, village-like neighbourhood of Kala; if you walk around the quiet cobbled streets of this 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 chamomile is in the air (and underfoot), and wildflowers burst from every gap between the stones, giving the entire place 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. It's a steep 10 to 15-minute walk up the hill from the centre of town. For an even more impressive view, continue on right to the far southern end of the complex (the total opposite end from the main entrance) and you'll get to a viewpoint from where you can peer down onto the town far below. In summer, men sell fresh fruit from a stall here.

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 (which are otherwise normally kept locked), including St Theodore, close to the citadel gates; the substantial and picturesque Church of the Holy Trinity, below the upper fortress; and the little chapels of St Mary Blachernae and St Nicholas. 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.

Although the fortress is open 24 hours, all visitors have to purchase an entry ticket from the main entrance gate, the ticket booth here is only open between 9am and 6pm.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Berat attractions

1. Onufri Museum

0.06 MILES

The Onufri Museum is situated in the Kala quarter's biggest church, the Church of the Dormition of St Mary (Kisha Fjetja e Shën Mërisë). The church itself…

2. Red Mosque

0.08 MILES

The Red Mosque, by the southern Kala walls, was the first mosque in Berat and dates back to the 15th century.

3. Church of the Holy Trinity

0.08 MILES

The substantial and picturesque Church of the Holy Trinity sits below the upper fortress. Of all the churches within the fortress walls, it's the best…

4. Chapel of St Mary Blachernae


The small chapel of St Mary Blachernae, which dates from the 13th century and contains some 16th-century wall murals, is unfortunately normally kept…

6. Church of St Theodore

0.14 MILES

The Orthodox church of St Theodore, close to the fortress gates, is normally closed, but if you are granted access, you'll discover some wonderful wall…

7. Ethnographic Museum

0.24 MILES

Just off the steep hillside that leads up to Berat's castle is this excellent museum, which is housed in a beautiful 18th-century Ottoman house that's as…

8. Chapel of St Michael

0.25 MILES

Perched on a cliff ledge below the castle is the artfully positioned 14th-century chapel of St Michael, best viewed from the Gorica quarter across the…