Posted on 17.12.2012, 27.07.2015
Berat and Gjirokastra bear outstanding testimony to the diversity of urban societies in the Balkans, and to longstanding ways of life which have today almost vanished. On the other hand, the two towns preserved the various types of monument and vernacular urban housing during the Classical Ottoman period, in continuity with the various Medieval cultures which preceded it, and in a state of peaceful coexistence with a large Christian minority, particularly at Berat.
Located in south-central Albania, the town of Berat has a history of more than 2500 years, being named by the ancient Greeks city of Antipater, by the Romans Antipatrea, by the Byzantines Pulcheriopolis, by the Venetians Belgrad di Romania, and by the Ottomans Belgrad-i Arnavud (Albanian Belgrade) to distinguish it from Belgrade. The origin of the current name is the Slavic Bel(i)grad, meaning "white city". It bears witness to the coexistence of various religious and cultural communities down the centuries. It features a castle (Kala), most of which was built in the 13th century, although its origins date back to the 4th century BC.
The citadel area numbers many Byzantine churches, mainly from the 13th century, as well as several mosques built under the Ottoman era which began in 1417. Its urban centre reflects a vernacular housing tradition of the Balkans, examples of which date mainly from the late 18th and the 19th centuries. This tradition has been adapted to suit the town's life styles, with tiered houses on the slopes, which are predominantly horizontal in layout, and make abundant use of the entering daylight. This period was notable for its remarkable religious tolerance, and the conservation of the Orthodox Christian heritage within a sizeable Muslim population.
Gjirokastra was built in the Drinos river valley in southern Albania by major landowners. Around the ancient 13th century citadel, the town has houses with turrets (the Turkish kule) which are characteristic of the Balkans region. It contains several remarkable examples of houses of this type, which date from the 17th century, but also more elaborate examples dating from the early 19th century. The town also retains a bazaar, an 18th-century mosque and two churches of the same period.
For me, as inhabitant of Ploieşti, Berat has a special significance, because is one of sister cities of Ploieşti, the others being Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine), Harbin (China), Hînceşti (Moldova), Lefkada (Greece), Maracaibo (Venezuela), Oral (Kazakhstan), Osijek (Croatia) and Radom (Poland). I will try to add to my collection at least one postcard from each of these cities, thing that proves to be more difficult than I thought initially when I had the idea. You can see all the postcards that I received from these cities on the topic Sister cities of Ploieşti.
About the stamps
On the both postcards is a stamp which is part of the series Albanian National Handicraft, designed by Bertrand Shijaku and issued on April 6, 2010. The series contains four stamps with the face values of 20 (it's on the postcards), 30, 50 and 1,000 leke, depicting silverware. On the postcard 1788 is also a stamp which is part of a series depicting flowers, issued in 2011.
Berat - Wikipedia
Gjirokastra - Wikipedia
Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra - UNESCO official website
Sender 0420: Lena (direct swap)
sent from Tirana (Albania), on 14.08.2012
Sender 1788: Packa & Ugljaja
sent from Tirana (Albania), on 16.06.2015