Albania has a rich cultural history as the country has been inhabited since the ancient Greek times. Throughout history, many different folks have lived in the area and fought fearcely to protect their land, so fortifications, from ancient settlements to gigantic castles, have always played a crucial role. Some of those castles have survived many battles and are preserved well up to this date, while others have deteriorated over time. Here are the 10 most incredible castles in south Albania that are worth visiting today.
Built by the Ottomans in 1537, Lekursi Castle overlooks the town and bay of Saranda. Nowadays the castle hosts a restaurants, so you can have a romantic dinner while watching the sunset from the castle. Around the castle you can find some of the remains of what was once the village of Lekures.
Butrint was an important ancient Greek city, which was later occupied by the Romans and Ottomans, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited archaeological park of Albania. The Venetian Acropolis Castle was built by the Venetians, who bought the area in 1387. Nowadays the castle hosts the museum of Butrint.
Opposite the Butrint archaeological site, on the other side of the Vivari Channel, lies the Venetian Triangular Castle. This castle was built in the 15th century when the people in Butrint moved to this smaller fortification because this was cheaper than maintaining the entire Butrint settlement. A small cable ferry will bring you across the channel to visit the site.
Ali Pasha’s Castle is probably the most overlooked castle in the south of Albania, because of it’s remote location on an island in the mouth of the Vivari Channel. You need a boat to get there, but during the summer you will find some boatsmen at the entrance of Butrint that can bring you there for a visit.
Borsh Castle is definitely one of the most incredible castles in the south of Albania. Although large parts of the castle have been destroyed, the road there is already breathtaking, and the views from the castle are absolutely stunning. You literally feel on top of the world, with a beautiful mountain landschape on one side, and a view over Borsh, the beach and the Ionian sea on the other side.
A few kilometers further north is the beautiful Bay of Porto Palermo, with Porto Palermo Castle located on a small island. The castle was built by Ali Pasha in the early 19th century and later served as a prison during World War II. It is now a cultural monument and a museum.
Himara is known as a popular beach town with hotels and restaurants located around the Bay of Himara, but the original old town is located a few kilometers further on a hill. The fortified town is also known as Himara Castle and within the city walls there are several old churches, cobbled streets and old houses. The views are also stunning as you can overlook the Bay of Himara, several beaches, mountains and canyons.
Gjirokastra Castle is the second largest fortification in the Balkan and the impressive landmark overlooks the city of Gjirokastra and the beautiful Drino Valley. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit and one of our favorite castles in Albania.
Tepelena Castle is worth a stop if you pass by between Tirana and the south of Albania. The castle was built by Ali Pasha of Tepelena as his second residence. Nowadays the villagers live inside the castle, as the area within it’s walls has become a residential area.
Libohova Castle is another fortification that was built under the Ottoman ruler Ali Pasha, who dedicated this castle to his sister Shanisha. Although the castle itself is in a state of deterioration, the views over the Drino Valley and Bureto Mountain are magnificent.
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