Guided Berat Tour: the Fortress, Onufri Museum, Wine Tasting, & Lunch
Tour Participation Requirements
Special Medical Restriction
About 60 miles south of Tirana, in the shadow of 8,000-foot Mount Tomorr, the fortress city of Berat has been a strategic crossroads for 25 centuries. Fought over by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Serbs, Bulgarians, Ottomans, and Albanians, its walled hilltop citadel has been sacked, burned, toppled, and rebuilt countless times.
Today, the majestic ruin of Kala Castle's upper fortress stands broken but strong, providing million-dollar views (roughly 123,500,000 leks worth) of the Albanian mountains above and riverside neighborhoods below – where a picturesque avalanche of white, many-windowed homes cascades down steep forested hillsides carved by the waters of the Osumi River.
Within the citadel walls of this World Heritage Site, the winding cobbled lanes of the Kala quarter remain inhabited to this day, creating a living museum where the chain of Balkan history survives unbroken. Old frescoed Byzantine churches abound, including the one that houses the museum where Onufri's painted icons are the star attraction – vividly demonstrating why he's considered an undisputed master of this sacred art form.
But it's Berat's unusual cultural and geographic intertwining of Eastern and Western influences that defines this small, unique city. To grasp that, you need look no further than the seven-arched Gorica bridge, dating back to 1780.
Far more than just crossing the Osumi, this architectural landmark creates a symbolic bridge between the Ottoman quarter of Mengalem, so famous for its windowed houses, and the Orthodox Christians of the Gorica quarter on the opposite bank. This longstanding and peaceful coexistence of cultures gives Berat a distinctive flavor that's not only fascinating, but delicious. As a taste of burek at lunch, and red or white shesh at Cobo cellars, will prove.
Many religious art scholars believe that master icon-painter Onufri's trademark red pigment has never been equaled, and that he took its composition with him to the grave. This information gap is not surprising given that Onufri's very existence only came to light in the early 20th century. We do know he was educated by the Venetians and went on to found a painting school in Berat. And that he had a son Nikola who, alas, never got a full dose of his dad's painting genius. Or the secret formula for that red paint.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.