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One of the best exemplars of Byzantine architecture in Albania hides several beautiful frescoes inside its walls.
Holy Trinity Church is one of the oldest churches in Berat. Easily accessible, the church is located in the historic Mangalem neighborhood in Berat, on the southern side of the Berat Castle. Because of the steep terrain in which it stands, the castle has a beautiful panoramic view over the historic Gorica neighborhood, Osumi River and the contemporary Berat Promenade, otherwise known as the famous UNESCO-protected harmonious ensemble that is Berat.
The church, one of the most visited in Berat, is considered to be one of the most well-constructed and best-preserved among the total of 28 churches in Mangalem. Its construction dates back to the end of the 13th century, confirmed by an inscription on one of the church gates with the name of Andronicus Paleologus, Governor of the Berat province during 1302-1326. The construction is a wonderful representation of Byzantine architecture where rows of tile and stone are perfectly intertwined. This technique played a crucial role in protecting the object from potential devastating damages throughout the centuries.
The frescoes adorning the interior walls of the church are all painted by anonymous artists. Though they are somewhat damaged due to age, traces of Biblical scenes depicting Christ and his disciples, elements from the “Last Supper” and images of the days and rituals that precede Easter, are all still visible. The great news is that recent efforts are underway to restore the visibility of these frescoes.
The entire upper part of the church is dominated by the burnished red color of Byzantine tiles, culminating in the dome. The restorations of 2016 focused mainly on this iconic roof as it was the most damaged part of the entire construction. The gradual intertwinement of red brick with white stone as one moves downward toward the church foundations, gives the church façade an understated, elegant kind of beauty. From the outside, one sees its dominant reddish dome stretch over both sides of the construction, resembling a cross, lending a sense of peacefulness to the entire city below.