Berat Castle, perched atop a hill and dating back to the 4th century B.C., stands as a testament to the city’s rich history. It proudly overlooks Berat and the Osum River, offering breathtaking views of the city and the Gorica Bridge. Encircled by stone walls and boasting twenty-four watchtowers, Berat Castle, also known as Antipatrea, is considered one of the most magnificent in Albania.
Entering through a grand gate built on giant rocks, visitors are greeted by the solemnity of the castle’s entrance. What sets Berat Castle apart is that, unlike many ancient castles, life within its ancient walls is vibrant and ongoing. Its inhabitants, living in houses that line one side of the castle, share the castle’s history with visitors, acting as unofficial historians. The castle is a self-sustained world with houses, bars, restaurants, churches, bazaars, museums, and monuments, creating a unique atmosphere that feels almost unreal.
The local inhabitants, perched high above the city, offer an exceptional view that is both common to them and breathtaking to visitors. They are the keepers of the castle’s stories and history. Among the surviving churches, St. Todri’s Church, adorned with frescoes by Albania’s renowned religious artist Onufri, stands out. The castle also hosts the Museum of Medieval Art within the functional “The Dormition of Saint Mary” Cathedral, a beautiful structure with intricate artworks.
Exploring Berat Castle allows visitors to discover unexpected gems like the bust of Constantine the Great, a Roman emperor of Illyrian origin and a saint proclaimed by the Catholic Church. Constantine the Great founded Constantinople and was the first Christian emperor, leaving an indelible mark on history.