Gjirokastër is a city in southern Albania, on a valley between the Gjerë mountains and the Drino. Its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, described as a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate. The city is overlooked by Gjirokastër Fortress It is the birthplace of former Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha and notable writer Ismail Kadare.
The city appears in the historical record dating back in 1336 as part of the Byzantine Empire. It became part of the Orthodox Christian diocese of Dryinoupolis and Argyrokastro after the destruction of nearby Adrianoupolis. Gjirokastër later was contested between the Despotate of Epirus and the Albanian clan of John Zenevisi before falling under Ottoman rule for the next five centuries (1417–1913). Throughout the Ottoman era Gjirokastër was officially known in Ottoman Turkish as Ergiri. During the Ottoman period conversions to Islam and an influx of Muslim converts from the surrounding countryside made Gjirokastër go from being an overwhelmingly Christian city in the 16th century into one with a large Muslim population by the early 19th century. Gjirokastër also became a major religious centre for Bektashi Sufism.
Taken by the Hellenic Army during the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 on account of its large Greek population, it was eventually incorporated into the newly independent state of Albania in 1913. This proved highly unpopular with the local Greek population, who rebelled; after several months of guerrilla warfare, the short-lived Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was established in 1914 with Gjirokastër as its capital. It was definitively awarded to Albania in 1921. In more recent years, the city witnessed anti-government protests that lead to the Albanian civil war of 1997.
Gjirokaster features a series of outstanding two-story houses which were developed in the 17th century. The town also retains a bazaar, an 18th-century mosque and two churches of the same period.References:
For centuries, the Astrakhan Kremlin was inapproachable stronghold in the south-eastern border of the Russia. The first construction of the Kremlin began in 1587-1588 under the guidance of I.G. Vorodkov, a lector of Discharge Order. He laid the first wooden fortress with powerful solid walls and towers. The place of construction was chosen on the hill, known as “Rabbit” or “Zayachii” in Russian.
During the reign of Ivan IV The Terrible and Boris Godunov the wooden fortress was rebuilt into a stone one. For the development of Kremlin walls and towers state-owned official masters were headed from Moscow to Astrakhan. For best results executives used the old, but very strong Tatar plinths which were brought from the ruins of the cities of the Golden Horde towns. Stone citadel was built by the type of Moscow Kremlin.
Next two centuries have become relatively calm for the Kremlin. Its buildings were repaired, rebuilt and renewed. However, in the beginning of 20th century after the October Revolution access to the Kremlin was closed. Instead it was transformed as a military post, where groups of Red Guards were formed the Military Revolutionary Committee was placed.
In January 1918 Astrakhan Kremlin was once again in the middle of fateful events, when supporters of Soviet power fought with Astrkhan Cossaks. They attacked The Red Army that was entrenched in the Kremlin, from roofs of nearby buildings. Serious destruction was caused to the Kremlin after this battle. In 1919 the Army was reorganized under the leadership of Kirov to protect the outfall of Volga and to defeat the White Guard troops and foreign interventionists.
Only after the end of the World War II the town opened the access to the Kremlin. At the same time Kremlin ceases to be subject of military purposes. In the mid-20th century significant restoration works were held, due to which many buildings, requiring urgent repairs were saved.
In 1974 the Astrakhan Kremlin became a museum. Nowadays citizens and tourists of Astrakhan have the access to museum exhibits of the lifestyle of the Astrakhan Garrison. Moreover they can see Casual Suits archers and scorers, elements of their weapons and ammunition, the exhibition dedicated to the history of popular uprisings and corporal punishment. In 2011, after the restoration of the kremlin, Guardhouse exposition was opened, which tells about the life of Astrakhan military garrison of the 19th century.
Construction of Assumption Cathedral began in 1699 and lasted almost 12 years. The bell tower was erected in 1710. The exterior of the Cathedral was decorated with molded brick and carved with white stone. Windows and dome heads were framed by columns in the style of Corinthian décor and semicircular arches were filled with paintings with biblical plot. Three of such arches were arranged on each side of the temple.
The cathedral was divided into two floors: the upper church is dedicated to the honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. Tall and light temple was intended for ceremonial worships during warm months. The lower church which is dark lightened and surrounded by the gallery columns.