Castles of Albania

Castles of AlbaniaPorto Palermo Castle

Albania is a country steeped in history, witnessing countless battles and struggles between Serbs, Bulgarians, Venetians, Byzantines, Normans and Ottomans. For this reason in Albania you can be sure to find spectacular castles , whose chronology ranges from antiquity to medieval fortresses.

Inhabited since prehistoric times, Albania may be one of the least visited countries in Europe, but it’s also home to a myriad of fascinating historical sites. You’ll find many centuries-old ruins and traditions, as well as numerous castles in Albania that can take you back to ancient times.

The first fortified constructions in the Albanian lands were erected during the late Neolithic period in the years 2800-2700 B.C. In the Bronze Age, but especially in the Early Iron Age, they became widespread. Some known Illyrian fortresses are Rozafa in Shkodra, the castle of Berat, Lis, Bylis, Amanti, Butrint, Antigone, etc.

Then, in the 4th-6th centuries of the New Age, castles were erected in the low and strategic areas such as Durres Castle, Gjirokastra Castle, Elbasan Castle and later Kruja Castle. Even in the Middle Ages until the 19th century, many fortresses were built and reconstructed, which can be found in many areas of Albanian lands. These castles are a great asset for the Albanian nation. They point to their antiquity in the Balkans, to the art of construction and to their centuries-long fortitude against their threatened enemies. The castles have a great cultural and touristic value.

List of Albanian castles

Krujë Castle

Gjirokastër Castle

Berat Castle

Rozafa Castle (Shkodër)

Ali Pasha Castle (Butrint)

Bashtovë Castle (Vilë-Ballaj)

Castle of Porto Palermo (Himarë)

Castle of Rodoni (Cape of Rodon)

Elbasan Castle

Tepelenë Castle

Lezhë Castle

Durrës Castle

Petrelë Castle

Prezë Castle

Lëkurësi Castle (Sarandë)

Libohovë Castle

Ishëm Castle

Delvinë Castle

Castle of Borsh

Kaninë Castle

NameLocationYear builtDescriptionKrujë CastleKruje1190, 1982The castle served as the centre of Skanderbeg’s rebellion against the Ottoman Empire.Gjirokastër FortressGjirokastër

12th century and alterations in 1812The fortress overlooks the town of Gjirokastër and dominates the strategically important route along the river valley.Berat CastleBerat

12th centuryThe castle is built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the Osum River overlooking the town of Berat.Rozafa CastleShkodër

1396Located on a hilltop and surrounded by the Buna and Drink rivers, the castle has stood since ancient times. It was an Illyrian fortress until it was captured by the Romans in 167 BC.Ali Pasha CastleButrint

1808The castle is located about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) west at the mouth of the Vivari Canal. It was built to prevent the advance of French forces from Corfu.Fortress of BashtovëVilë-Ballaj

15th centuryLocated near the mouth of the Shkumbin River on the Adriatic Sea in central Albania, the fortress is part of the tentative list for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.Porto Palermo CastleHimarë

14th centuryThe triangular-shaped castle is located in the enclosed bay of Porto Palermo, a few kilometres south of Himarë.Castle of RodoniCape of Rodon

1452, 1500According to Marin Barleti, the castle was destroyed by Ottoman forces in 1467. In 1500, the castle was rebuilt by the Republic of Venice.Elbasan FortressElbasan

14th centuryThis rectangular-shaped fortress houses 12 cultural heritage monuments within its walls.Tepelenë CastleTepelenë

1819The walls of this castle do not form a normal geometric pattern. It was the second residence of Ali Pashë Tepelena.Lezhë CastleLezhë

9th century This massive fortification was built on the ruins of the ancient Akrolis (Lissus). It was burned twice in 1478 and 1503 by local residents who tried to force the invading Ottoman armies to establish their military base there.Durrës CastleDurrës

5th centuryThe castle was built by Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I (491-518), who was born in Durrës.Petrelë CastlePetrelë

14th centuryNestled on a rocky hill above the village of the same name, the castle has a triangular shape with two watchtowers.PrezëPrezë Castle

15th centuryLocated on a hilltop in the village of Prezë, the castle belonged to the feudal family of Thopia who ruled the region.Lëkurësi CastleSarandë

1537Lëkurës Castle was built for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who had attacked Corfu and needed to control the port of Sarandë and the road connecting it to Butrint.Libohovë CastleLibohovë

1798The castle was a gift from Ali Pasha to his sister Shanisha, who was born in Libohovë.Ishëm CastleIshëm1574Located near the Ishëm River, the castle was built by the Ottomans to stop peasant rebellions. Delvinë CastleDelvinë14th centuryThe ellipse-shaped castle, whose protective walls surround a steep rocky hill about 60 metres long and 30 metres wide, played a strategic role in closing off the Delvina basin and the Rëzomë area to the Drinos valley.Borsh CastleBorsh

4th century BC.Historically known as Sopot Castle after the name of the hill on which it stands, the castle was badly damaged during the barbarian invasions of the 5th and 6th centuries AD, and was rebuilt in the Middle Ages, when it took its present name.KaninëKaninë Castle

5th centuryDuring the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle became a first-class military centre serving the Kingdom of Albania. It was later remodelled by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1530 and more recently by the Albanian feudals of Vlorë in the 17th and 19th centuries.


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