Continuously inhabited since ancient times, the town of Berat, surrounded by aromatic pine forests and the rugged Tomorr mountains, enjoys a formidable defensive position inside the walls of a 195m high limestone gorge. Dubbed the ‘City of a Thousand Windows’, Berat boasts many fine Ottoman-era stone houses, along with an important citadel, churches, mosques, and a museum. The town was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 2009.
Founded by the ancient Greek Chaonians in the 6th century BC, the settlement was ransacked and captured by the Romans some three hundred years later. After centuries of Roman rule, as part of the frontier of the Byzantine Empire, Berat witnessed protracted periods of instability and was repeatedly invaded by Slavs. The town changed hands several times until the Ottoman Empire finally swept through in 1417 and established political and religious hegemony.