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Kala is Berat’s beautiful old castle, located on the top of a hill, and it is the perfect place to admire the town from above. The small town that was built inside the castle’s walls is one of the most enchanting places you’ll see in Albania. There are even a few people that still live there. The area looks magical with its ancient ruins, wildflowers and small courtyards.
Located in the Church of the Dormition of Saint Mary, in the Kala district, the Onufri Museum hosts spectacular sixteenth century paintings created by the greatest Albanian icon-painter of all time. The church itself, which dates back to 1797, was built on the foundations of an earlier chapel. This structure is worth a visit for its beauty inside and out.
Just behind the Kala castle’s walls is the Holy Trinity Church, a fourteenth century picturesque church that is totally worth a look. Once you reach it, you can take gorgeous photos of one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Berat and Albania.
Berat is divided between two large neighborhoods, Gorica and Mangalem. Mangalem is maybe the more picturesque side of the town because it is full of typical Ottoman-era buildings complete with small windows and brown roofs. One of the best experiences to have in Albania is to stroll up and down the narrow streets of Mangalem admiring the impressive Ottoman architecture.
Gorica is another beautiful area of Berat adorned with cobblestoned streets, stone houses and small Orthodox churches. You should include it in your itinerary, not only for its beauty, but also because it has gorgeous views of the Mangalem district. Gorica is perfect for taking pictures of the old Ottoman facades.
If you want to learn something more about the ancient history of Berat, head into the Ethnographic Museum, housed in an eighteenth century Ottoman house (located on the street that leads from Mangalem to Kala). Opened in 1979, the museum displays the history of the town and contains several original artifacts from ancient times, including clothes, tools and household objects.
Traditionally, Mangalem is the Muslim quarter of Berat, and it hosts three gorgeous mosques that are open to the public: the Sultan’s Mosque, the Lead Mosque and the Bachelors’ Mosque. The first one is among the oldest mosques in the country and is located near the Halveti Teqe, a place of worship for those who practice the Bektashi branch of the dervish order. The Lead Mosque is famous for its sphere-shaped dome made with lead, while the Bachelors’ Mosque was built for unmarried men and has stunning paintings decorating its external walls.
The best place for a traditional Albanian dinner is the restaurant in the Hotel Mangalemi. The menu serves typical Berat cuisine that is hard to beat. We suggest trying tavë kosi (lamb baked in yogurt sauce) and a few traditional Albanian cheeses. If the weather permits, sit out on the terrace, where you’ll have gorgeous views of the rooftops of Mangalem.