Berat is a very special city. Its age, culture, and folk traditions make it one of the most interesting towns in the Mediterranean area.
The city’s history began with the creation of a fortified acropolis in the VI Century B.C. However, there are traces of human settlement dating back 4000.
Contrary to the other cities in Albania, Berat was the only one that managed to preserve the qualities of civilization throughout all of its history. The soaring castle of Berat commanded the road to the port of Vlora and the city of Korça and dominated also may lesser passes. The city was militarily strategic and it held the key to the exploitation of the rich natural surroundings. As the major empires took turns in conquering Berat they left their remarkable traces which are still visible today. In ancient times Berat was called Antipatrea, after Antipater, Alexander the Great’s regent of Macedonia and later Pulcheriopolis after the sister of Emperor Theodosius II. The Romans called it “Albanorum Oppidum” (Town of the Albanians). During the second Bulgarian Empire, 960 – 1018, the town was named Belgrade (White Castle). It became the center of the feudal Muzaka family in the Middle Ages. Ottoman rule began in 1417. At this time Berat developed as an important strategic and commercial centre. During the Ottoman era, Berat had about 5.000 inhabitants and was one of the largest cities and an important centre in Albania. In 1774 the Pashalik of Berat was created under Ahmet Kurt Pasha, which in 1809 became part of the Pashalik of Ioannina, the ottoman province which included today’s southern Albania and northern Greece.
The city of Berat is located on the southeast of Albania. It is located among 7 hills and divided in two parts by the picturesque river Osum. On the east side of the city resides the mighty “Saint Tomor” (Mount Tomor), the so-called Olympus of Albania. On the west the mountainous landscape is completed by Tomor’s brother, Mount Shpiragu with the deep “wound” in its body. Legend has these as the bodies of two feuding brother giants.
Berat is the place of sun and flowers. The area enjoys 300 sunny days per year as a gift from God and 25 square metres of green spaces per person, gardens and parks, are maintained by its citizens, who are well known as lovers of flowers.
Berat has a population of 78.000 inhabitants. The hills and the mountain slopes around Berat are planted with fig trees, olive trees and other fruit trees.
Its religious buildings and important monuments are well known for their architectural excellence. The monuments that are the most complete are from the XIII century or later. The castle and its fortification walls are interwoven like a mosaic of different ages. The various quarters “Kala”, “Mangalem” and “Gorica” nestle on the skirts of the hills and valley sides of the town.