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Berati: What to visit Print E-mail
The Fortress, is built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the river Osum and is accessible only from the south. After being burned down by Berati Albaniathe Romans in 200 B.C. the walls were strengthened in the fifth century under Byzantine Emperor Theodhosius II, and were rebuilt during the 6th century under the Emperor Justinian and again in the 13th century under the Despot of Epirus, Michael Angelus Comnenus. The main entrance, on the north side, is defended by a fortified courtyard and there are three smaller entrances.

The fortress of Berat in its present state, even though considerably damaged, remains a magnificent sight. The surface that it encompasses made it possible to house a considerable portion of the cities inhabitants. The buildings inside the fortress were built during the 13th century and because of their characteristic architecture are preserved as cultural monuments.

The population of the fortress was Christian, and it had about 20 churches (most built during the 13th century) and only one mosque, for the use of the Turkish garrison, (of which there survives only a few ruins and the base of the minaret). The churches of the fortress were damaged through years and only some have remained. The Church of St. Mary of Vllaherna dating from the 13th century, has 16th century mural paintings by Nikolla, son of the Albania's most famous medieval painter, Onfuri. In a small tree - planted square, on a hillside inside the walls of the fortress, stands the fourteenth century Church of the Holy Trinity. It is built in the form of a Greek cross and has Byzantine murals. Outside the ramparts is the Church of St. Michael (Shen Mehill), Built in the thirteenth century. This church is reached by a steep but perfectly safe path. 
Near the entrance, after a guardhouse, is the little Church of St. Theodore (Shen Todher), which have wall paintings by Onufri himself.

berati albania The most interesting is the cathedral of St. Nicholas, which has been well restored and is now a museum dedicated to Onufri. Onufri was the greatest of the 16th century painters in Albania. Not only was he a master of the techniques of fresco and icons, but he was the first to introduce a new colour in painting, pink, which was considered by the French critics as Onufri's red. In addition, Onufri, introduced a certain realism and a degree of individuality in facial expression. The first inscription recording Onufri's name was found in 1951, in the Shelqan church. The Kastoria church has a date 23 July 1547 and a reference to Onufri's origin : Une jam Onufri, dhe vij nga qyteti i shkelqyer i Beratit (I am Onufri, and come from the town of Berat). Onufri's style in painting was inherited by his son, Nikolla (Nicholas), though not so successful as his father.

In Onufri's museum are to be found works of Onufri, his son, Nikolla and other painters'. There are also numbers of icons and some fine examples of religious silversmith's work (sacred vessels, icon casings, covers of Gospel books, etc). Berat Gospels, which date from the forth century, are copies (the originals are preserved in the National Archives in Tirana). The church itself has a magnificent iconostasis of carved wood, with two very fine icons of Christ and the mother of God. The bishop's throne and the pulpit are also of considerable quality.

Near the street running down from the fortress is the Bachelors Mosque (Xhami e Beqareve), built in 1827. this has a handsome portico and an interesting external decoration of flowers, plants, houses, etc. The word - beqar, which literally means bachelor, and refers to the young shop assistants (in practice generally bachelors), whom the merchants in Berat used as their own private militia. 
The King's Mosque (Xhamia e Mbretit), the oldest in the town built in the reign of Bayazid II (1481 - 1512), is notable for its fine ceiling.

The Leaden Mosque (Xhamia e Plumbit), built in 1555 and so called from the covering of its cupola. This mosque is the centre of the town.

The Teqe of the Helveti (Teqe e Helvetive), of 1790, with a handsome porch and a carved and gilded ceiling. 
Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 March 2005 )
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