Albanian Architecture: A Hidden Gem
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Located on the Balkan Coast, north of Greece, across the Adriatic from Italy, Albania isn’t one of the most popular tourist destinations or the most obvious. But the former Communist state has some of the best architecture in Europe. The nation’s vast array of architecture reflects its long and proud history. Invaded by the Romans and held by the Byzantines until the 7th Century invasion by Bulgaria, parts of it passed hands on to Serbia and in 1271, Albania was an independent kingdom. By 1431, the nation was mostly occupied by the Ottoman Invaders and the Turks defeated a long-lasting rebellion started by Albanian noble Skanderbeg by 1479 and Albania was controlled from Constantinople until independence in 1912. Like the Romans had bought Catholicism and the Serbs had bought Orthodoxy, the Ottomans also bought Islam to Albania. Albania, like most of Eastern Europe, fell to Communism under the brutal rule of Enver Hoxha and Ramiz Alia until 1991. All the different influences on the country have left on impression on the nation. The historic towns of Berat and Gjirokastra are designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Berat, which has several stunning hills in the background, is representative of the religious mix of Albania: you will find churches from the 1300s bustled with mosques from the 1400s. The town has just 60,000 residents and is full of picturesque white homes and Berat Castle, dating back to the 5th Century and possessing a majestic medieval citadel.
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