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GJIROKASTER

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Gjirokastra, Chronicle in Stone 

 

 

Gjirokastra is one of the most attractive towns in Albania. Gjirokastra (known as - the town of a thousand stairs), is of particular interest for its native architecture; the area on which it is built and its form resembling an extended Cyclopes hand. The characteristic houses clustered around the majestic fortress towering above them as a huge battle ship, are small fortresses in themselves. The great period of house construction extends from about 1800-1860. 
Gjirokastra lies on the slopes of Gjere mountain, overlooking the river Drino. The first traces are to be found in the 1st century AD; it became an urban center by the thirteenth century. Gjirokastra is mentioned for the first time in a document of 1336, under the name of Argyropolihne (the township of Argyro), derived, according to the legend from a princess, Argyro, who hurled herself to her death from a tower to avoid falling into the hands of the invaders. 

Gjirokastra had been under the Byzantine dominion until the late 14th century, when it passed under the control of the Albanian feudal prince Zanebisha. In the year 1432, Gjirokastra was captured by the Ottoman Turks. At this time Gjirokastra became the seat of the local Albanian feudal lords. In 1811, Ali Pasha Tepelena, after bombarding the fortress with artillery, forced the town to capitulate. Later on, Gjirokastra, was to play an important role as the cradle of the patriotic movement of the Albanian's for freedom and independence. In 1908, the Albanian detachment led by Ceciz Topulli, inflicted heavy casualties on the Ottoman troops. In 1940 -1941, during the Greek - Italian war, Gjirokastra became, once more a battlefield. 

Today, Gjirokastra has a leather factory and a factory for the processing and the fermentation of tobacco, as well as a for manufacturing cigarettes etc. 

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