TIME magazine has just released its annual list of the World’s Greatest Places, and Berat, Albania has made the list for its history, beauty, and hospitality.
Berat is a small town in Albania, located in the central region of the country, and is known for its historic architecture, picturesque views, and welcoming locals. The town has a rich history, with a particular highlight being the role it played in sheltering Jewish refugees during World War II.
During the war, Berat became a safe haven for many Jews seeking refuge from Nazi persecution. The town’s residents took on the responsibility of protecting these people, often at great personal risk. This act of kindness and bravery is a testament to the Albanian code of Besa, which emphasizes hospitality and the importance of protecting guests. Today, visitors to Berat can learn about this fascinating history by visiting the Solomoni Museum, which provides insights into the town’s Jewish community and its role during the war.
Aside from its historical significance, Berat is also a stunningly beautiful town. The old stone houses that line the banks of the Osumi River provide a picturesque backdrop for visitors, transporting them back in time to an era of ancient architecture and winding cobblestone streets. The town’s Byzantine churches and 16th century mosques offer visitors a glimpse into the past, while the millennium-old castle that overlooks the town provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Despite its ancient roots, Berat also offers visitors modern amenities and exceptional hospitality. The Amalia Boutique Hotel, located across the Gorica Bridge, provides visitors with beautifully appointed rooms that belie the hotel’s ancient stone exterior. The hotel also offers a selection of local raki, a popular fruit brandy found throughout the Balkans. Similarly, Lili Home-Made Food, located in the Mangalem Quarter, offers visitors a unique dining experience that feels more like a backyard barbecue than a restaurant. Host Lili provides theatrical menu explanations, while his wife Mirella cooks up delicious traditional Albanian dishes in their family kitchen.
For those looking to venture outside of the town center, Restaurant Roshniku provides an excellent opportunity to experience traditional Albanian cuisine. The restaurant is located just 30 minutes outside of town, in the mountains, and offers abundant roasted suckling goat feasts that feature local products, including wine from the family’s adjacent winery and hotel, Kantina Alpeta.
Berat, Albania is a gem of a town that offers visitors a unique blend of history, beauty, and hospitality. Whether you’re interested in learning about its role in World War II, exploring its ancient architecture, or indulging in traditional Albanian cuisine, Berat is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. Its inclusion in TIME magazine’s list of the World’s Greatest Places is well-deserved and serves as a testament to the town’s many charms.