Ali Pasha’s castle of Porto Palermo is located on a small island in the Bay of Palermo, between Qeparo and Himara, around 45 kilometers from Saranda. The island is connected to the mainland by a small strip of land so you can just walk to the castle.
How To Get To Porto Palermo Castle
Due to its remote location, Porto Palermo is best reached by car. From Saranda, Porto Palermo is a 45 kilometer drive, which should take just under an hour. The nearby towns of Himara and Qeparo are just a few minutes away.
Alternatively you could take any mini-bus between Himara and Qeparo to drop you off or pick you up on the way. However you might have to wait for a long time, while standing alongside the road with not much around.
History Of Porto Palermo Castle
It is claimed that Porto Palermo Castle was built in the 19th century by Ali Pasha of Tepelena. Inscribed on a plague which went missing, it said “Ali Pasha of Tepelena built the castle in 1804 with the help of French military engineers” and a legend goes that says that the engineers were killed right after completion. Historics actually argue whether the castle was actually built by Ali Pasha. Some claim it has been built way earlier by the Venetians, due to its similar triangular shape with round towers, like the Venetian Triangle Castle at Butrint.
In the ancient world, the bay of Porto Palermo has always been an important harbor which had to protect Himara. In Greek it was named Panormos (Panorama), and later renamed to Porto Palermo in the Byzantine era, similar to what happened to the city of Palermo in Sicily.
During and after World War II the castle has been used as a prison and a shelter for military units. In 1948 Porto Palermo Castle was declared a ‘Cultural Monument’ and nowadays serves as a museum.
What To See At Porto Palermo Castle
The entire castle with its many rooms can be visited. The castle has a triangular shape with tree pentagonal towers at the corners, which were built out of limestone. The walls itself are made of regularly set stone blocks and are between 3.2 and 3.5 meters thick. Inside the walls of the castle, several paintings are displayed, among which is one of Ali Pasha himself. On the ground floor is the prison, which was centrally located and oriented towards the sea. Guards used to patrol the several passageways.
Painting of Ali Pasha of Tepelena
A stone stairway will bring you to the terrace on top of the castle. There are five survey towers which have gun loopholes and are covered with domes.
From the castle terrace you have amazing views over the Ionian Sea, the rocky coastline and the mountains.
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