Gjirokastër, also known as Gjirokastra, is an inland city in Southern Albania with a beautiful old town unlike anything I've ever seen in Europe. It was oppressively hot when we were there but we still made the trek up to the castle that's existed for centuries, though is perhaps best known as one of Ali Pasha's fortresses. Unlike many castles in Europe, this one is open for you to fully explore. Pitch black passageways, filled with spiderwebs and even snakes are completely open for the visitor to walk through. Some ruined areas are filled with grass and flowers and walking around on an empty day, you can feel like you're discovering a structure lost in time. Adding to the mystique is an American Air Force, rumored to have been a spyplane brought down by the Communist regime, as well as a number of large weapons seized from the Germans during WWII. And maybe best of all, there's the view.
By Jess Hoolko
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