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A gorgeous medieval fortification nestled in the hills not so far outside of Tirana. Petrela is a fantastic escape with great authenticity and surrounding views to die for.
Petrela Castle & Village is undoubtedly a local favourite as far as natural city-escapes around Tirana go. Located a mere 18 km from Tirana, this authentic medieval village bears the name of the castle that looms over its historical settlement. Whilst Petrela castle is the main attraction here, one cannot disregard the value of getting some fresh air as you wander the area around it, just a stone’s throw away from the capital.
The winding road which takes you to this picturesque village runs alongside beautiful olive groves and new houses that continue right into the centre of the village. It’s possible to park your car here and continue your journey on foot by using a fairly short trail. Traditional and typical stone houses welcome you at the entrance to the castle, which merge beautifully as the entire fortification has a stone aesthetic. Century-old olive trees frame the grandiose gate of the castle which beckon you towards the entrance.
It must be said that the path towards the castle is somewhat of a challenge, and a tad steep. Therefore, the ascent requires some care and attention. The stone stairs lead to the highest point of the grounds and Petrela Castle. If you gaze beyond the castle’s southern wall (something that is not visible from the road) you can see a glorious mountain range, creating an idyllic panoramic view.
It’s at this highest point that you get to fully appreciate Petrela Castle’s strategic positioning, as it overlooks the roads and pathways once frequented by military caravans and travelers. Construction of Petrela dates back to the 5th century but the castle was finalized during the middle ages. Locals confirm that torches burning as far away as Kruja Castle can be seen from the peak of Petrela Castle, a fortress once dominated by those who led the fight with Skanderberg against the Ottomans.
Although the castle retains traces of the original surrounding wall and observation towers, it has undergone restoration in order to withstand the destructive effects of time. The castle’s two interior spaces are connected by two open corridors. Walk along these corridors and you will reach the main chambers and two small gates, both have been restored to an authentic state. The castle’s interior boasts a restaurant and café, both of which are true to Petrela’s traditional style. Old fashioned shelving, antique household items, handcrafted objects typical of the era and even the food served in the eateries, are in-keeping with the historical splendour of Petrela Castle.
With that said, contemporary architecture has become rife in the area around Petrela Village and Castle. The area is home to a mixture of traditional restaurants and authentic Albanian history as well as more modern summer resorts in the village. So, if you’re feeling in need of a little modernity after trekking up to the historical castle, then there is plenty to enjoy in the area around Petrela.