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Gjirokastra (Photo by Marc Morell)

Gjirokastėr (Albanian: Gjirokastėr or Gjirokastra) is a city in southern Albania at 40.08°N, 20.15°E with a population of around 30,000 (including some Greek minorities). It is an ancient city with old settlement traces dating back to the 1st century BC. Gjirokastėr is located on the hills of the Wide Mountain (Mali i Gjerė). At one point the city was a castle (Castle of Gjirokastėr) and then it began to grow with buildings springing up on the hills around the castle walls. During the 13th century it was also knows as Argyropoline or the City of Argyro. In the 14th century it was part of the Despotate of Epirus and in 1417 it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The houses in Gjirokastėr have a distinguished Albanian style. Gjirokastėr also features an old bazaar which was originally built in the 17th century, but that had to be rebuilt in the 19th after it was set on fire. During the 19th century, Gjirokastėr was central to the Albanian liberation movement as it hosted the Assembly of Gjirokastra in 1880. The city was developed after World War II and it is today an economic, educational and cultural center of southern Albania. There are over 20 museums in Gjirokastėr today and it is also the city of the National Folk Festival.

Gjirokastėr is also the birth place of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.

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