Albania is a European country situated on the southern side of the continent and west of the Balkan Peninsula.
There are a total of 158 castles and fortifications in Albania that are registered under the status of a Monument of Cultural Heritage.
Some of the castles date back to the 5th and 6th centuries A.D, such as Durrës Castle, which was constructed during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I.
Many of these castles hold a wealth of history, and many are in ruin today.
- The Most Beautiful Castles in Albania
- Albania Safety Overview
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Most Beautiful Castles in Albania
1. Gjirokastra Castle
Gjirokastra Castle is actually a fortress in Gjirokastra, Albania, that sits at a height of 1,102 feet.
The castle was previously known as Argyrokastro and is built with cobblestone.
It has undergone various additions and renovations since its inception, but today it consists of five towers and houses.
In addition, it is home to the new Gjirokastra Museum, a cistern, a church, and a clock tower.
This is one of the biggest castles in the Balkans.
It sits on a hilltop that overlooks the city of Gjirokastra.
The city is also known as the city of stone due to the beautiful stonework across the city.
While the date of the construction of the fortress is still unknown, archeologists have pinned it to around the 5th or 6th century.
The walls of the citadel were built much later, approximately in the 12th or 13th century.
The military museum houses various artillery and memorabilia which were confiscated from German troops or used during the Communist resistance against German occupation.
There is also a US Air Force jet on the castle grounds which has various stories about how it was obtained.
The castle hosts the National Folk Festival every five years.
Today, the castle is a major tourist attraction and is open all year round at various times.
2. Ali Pasha Castle
This is one of the newer castles in Albania, having been built in the 19th century.
Ali Pasha of Tepelena resided in the castle until 1820 and, up until that date, it was the second residence of the Albanian ruler.
The castle was built to protect the city of Himare from attack.
Unlike many of the castles in Albania that have been left to go to ruin, this castle is in very good condition and has been very well maintained over the years.
The surrounding grounds, on the other hand, are not in such good shape.
However, from within the castle, visitors are spoiled by the most magnificent views of the Ionian Sea.
The entire castle is open to tourists. It features many rooms and several paintings from the time, including some paintings of the Albanian ruler: Ali Pasha.
3. Lëkursi Castle
Lëkursi Castle is a castle ruin located near Sarandë, southern Albania, that sits on a hill and features sweeping views of the town of Sarandë and the blue marine below.
The original castle was constructed in 1573 by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire.
The castle was originally built to protect against attacks from the Venetians.
It was, however, attacked by Ali Pasha of Ioannina during the 18th century when the surrounding area was raided in the same attack.
While most of the city has been modernized, the castle still boasts its original architecture and history.
And, although most of the castle is in ruins, it still features a well-known restaurant within its castle walls.
The castle is a square shape with two rounded towers situated on the south-eastern and north-western corners.
There are several tours throughout the year that allow tourists and visitors to view the magnificent features of the old ruins and dine in the restaurant.
4. Durrës Castle
Durrës Castle is also the fortified city of Durrës in Albania and was built by Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I, in the 5th century.
In 1273, a devastating earthquake wreaked havoc on the castle walls and destroyed them.
The walls have since been restored and repaired. Today, the walls stand an impressive 15 feet tall.
Though this was once a mighty castle, it is more of a ruin today.
Three of the entrances to some of the fortified towers have been preserved through the years and are at least one-third of their original height.
These ruins are a major tourist attraction and boast outstanding architecture that is still well preserved on the inside of the castle.
The castle offers a beautiful mix of history and archeology.
Visitors are spoiled with a beautiful view of the city of Durrës and the ocean below.
5. Venetian Acropolis Castle
The Venetian Acropolis Castle is a beautifully preserved castle located on the Butrint Peninsula.
In 1386, the grounds around Butrint were purchased by the Venetians and the castle was constructed in the 14th century on the highest point on the peninsula, at a height of 830 feet.
The castle was left abandoned in 1572 during the war between the Venetians and the Ottomans.
After its abandonment, another castle, The Venetian Triangular Castle, was constructed in the 15th century, on the opposite side of the Channel of Vivari, where the Venetian Acropolis Castle was situated.
In 1797, the Venetian Acropolis Castle came under French Sovereignty.
It was later conquered by Ali Pasha of Tepelena in 1799 until Albanian came into independence in 1912.
Today, it is a popular museum and tourist attraction.
6. Berat Castle
Berat Castle, also known as the Citadel of Berat, is a fortress located on a hill that overlooks the town of Berat, which is a 2,400-year-old Unesco town.
The castle sits high above the Osum River.
The town plays a significant role in Albanian history and is also known as the city of a thousand windows.
The castle of Berat is surrounded by mountainous terrain and its origin dates back to the 4th century.
The first records of the castle date back to 200 B.C, when the Romans conquered the castle.
Within the walls of Berat Castle lies many historical elements.
There is a Mosque, The Red Mosque, more than 20 Christian churches, and a museum.
The Orthodox Church inside houses many 16th-century paintings.
Today, the castle is a major tourist attraction that welcomes visitors to its museum and courtyard for refreshments.
7. Himarë Castle
The castle is located in the city of Himarë. While the castle is in complete ruins today, it is still considered to be one of the most beautiful sights offered by Albania.
The Ceraunian Mountains sit to the east of the castle, while the Ionian Sea sits to the west of the castle.
It plays an important and significant role in Albanian history.
The castle was originally built in the 4th century and used as a fortress in the 8th century.
This was a very significant town during the Middle Ages and the Byzantine Empire.
Today, the cobblestone structure that was once abandoned still offers majestic views of the surrounding city of Himarë.
The castle is home to two very important churches: the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus and the Church of St. Mary Kasopitra.
In addition to people living in the castle today, there are several guest houses that offer accommodation to visitors.
8. Petrelë Castle
Petrelë Castle is perched on a hilltop overlooking a town of the same name.
The history of the castle dates back to Justinian I, making it one of the most historic sights in the Tirana District.
The building itself dates back to the 15th century when it was restored.
The castle is shaped like a triangle and has two watch towers. It sits approximately 1,079 feet above sea level.
Today, the castle is a tourist attraction and features a restaurant that offers local cuisine to travelers.
But there’s more than just the amazing food being served in the restaurant that attracts visitors each year.
The castle also offers visitors majestic views of the Erzen valley.
9. Libohovë Castle
Libohovë Castle is situated in Libohovë, southern Albania, and was constructed in 1798.
It was a gift from Ali Pasha to his sister, Shanisha, who was born in the city.
It was his wedding gift to her.
It is understood that Shanisha lived in the castle until her death and was buried near it.
It is believed that the castle was built on the ruins of a previous castle.
In 1963, the castle received the title of Cultural Monument in the first category.
The castle was built in a rectangular shape and has four watch towers and three entrances.
It offers scenic views of the region and although it is in ruins, it is still a major attraction for history and cultural enthusiasts.
10. Krujë Castle
Krujë Castle is located in a city by the same name and was once known as the Dragon of Albania as it stood in strong opposition against the Ottoman Empire.
During this period, the Ottoman Empire was slowly taking over Europe.
The castle was the headquarters of Gjergj Kastrioti, an Albanian military commander.
Under his leadership, the castle’s defenses could not be broken by the Ottoman Empire and stood strong for many years.
The castle can be accessed from two neighboring cities: Tirana and Durrës.
The medieval castle was constructed in the 5th or 6th century.
The castle hosts several attractions that lure tourists from all over the world, including a Turkish bath, the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Mosque, an ethnographic museum, as well as the National Skanderbeg Museum, and the Teqe of Dollme of the Beshtaki.
Albania Safety Overview
READ THE FULL REPORT: Albania Safety ReviewSafety Index:
- OVERALL RISK: LOW
- TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
- PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
- NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
- MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
- TERRORISM RISK: LOW
- SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
- WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a royal family in Albania?
Yes, there is.
Crown Prince Leka II became the heir to the Albanian crown after the 2011 passing of H.M. King Leka I.
What is the oldest castle in Albania?
The oldest castle in Albania is also a castle that has made it onto this list. It is Durrës Castle.
The castle dates back to the 5th or 6th century, during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I.
During this period, the city of Durrës was one of the most fortified cities in the Adriatic.
What was Albania originally called?
During the Classical era, Albania was known as Illyria and Epirus.