Bad Roads to Berat

This morning I left the pretty town of Ohrid and drove across the border into Albania. The border crossing was quick and easy and there was even a money exchange office at the border to change up my left over Macedonian Dinars.

Once I left the border post, the quality of the roads quickly deteriorated. They were pretty bad – the worst since leaving Russia. But the open countryside is beautiful. The Garmin seemed determined to take me through all of the back-country roads and it seemed like it was taking me all over the place. But the GPS track shows that the route was reasonably direct to Berat.

Today's GPS track from Ohrid (Macedonia) to Berat (Albania)
Today’s GPS track from Ohrid (Macedonia) to Berat (Albania)

The town of Berat lies about 125km south of Tirana along the Osum River valley. The town is surrounded by beautiful countryside which can be particularly appreciated when viewing it from the castle that overlooks the town.

Town of Berat, viewed from the castle above
Town of Berat, viewed from the castle above
Part of the surrounding countryside
Part of the surrounding countryside

To enjoy the views from the 13th Century Kala Castle, you first have to get there. That entails a long walk up a steep stone road, as the castle is on top of the hill overlooking the town.

The road up to Kala Castle
The road up to Kala Castle
Looking down the hill to the town
Looking down the hill to the town

The castle grounds cover 10 hectares, making it the largest castle in Albania. It contains a cathedral, eight churches and two mosques as well as other buildings. The churches and mosques are closed buildings, so they can only be viewed externally but several parts of the castle can be explored.

Part of the castle walls
Part of the castle walls
Castle wall and cannon
Castle wall and cannon
Narrow lane in castle grounds
Narrow lane in castle grounds
Castle buildings
Castle buildings
An old church building in the castle
An old church building in the castle
Church overlooking the surrounding countryside
Church overlooking the surrounding countryside
View from one of the old castle buildings
View from one of the old castle buildings

At the highest spot in the castle grounds is the Lord’s Fortress. Within the Lord’s Fortress is a large water cistern that stored water for the inhabitants of the citadel. It is partly accessible to visitors.

The exterior of the water cistern in the Lord's Fortress
The exterior of the water cistern in the Lord’s Fortress
Inside the water cistern
Inside the water cistern
Overgrown ruins of the Lord's Fortress
Overgrown ruins of the Lord’s Fortress
This minaret is all that is left standing of a mosque
This minaret is all that is left standing of a mosque
The remaining foundations of the mosque, next to the minaret
The remaining foundations of the mosque, next to the minaret

With dark clouds moving in from the mountains, I retreated to my hotel room expecting rain to arrive soon. Hopefully I’ll see a bit more of Berat this evening.

In order to include Meteora and Skopje in my route, it has snaked around a bit over the past week or so. However, the route will now be more direct as I start to make my way through the Balkans to Italy. My next destination is likely to be north to Ulcinj, just over the border into Montenegro.

GPS track showing my route through Bulgaria (starting top-right), into Greece, Macedonia and now Albania
GPS track showing my route through Bulgaria (starting top-right), into Greece, Macedonia and now Albania

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