Driving from Greece into Albania on a road trip whim, we found ourselves in the town of Gjirokastra, having been enchanted by a large hillside fort seen from the main road.
A winding drive up into town leads to the base of the dominating Gjirokastra Castle, deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
It's worth making the hike to the top to explore this castle's dark, gun-filled corridors, unintentional secret gardens from overgrowth creeping into the ruins, and rather gobsmacking vistas from the top. It also affords a good view down onto the unique slate roofs of the town's houses -- shimmery in a bit of sun and architecturally interesting in their own right.
The top of the castle once served as a communist prison, and by chatting to a few of the local guards, we were able to get a personal tour inside -- normally off limits to tourists.
Make some friends and enjoy an astounding discovery in an equally intriguing country!