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Berat

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Citadel of Berat

Berat (Albanian: Berat or Berati) is a town located in south-central Albania at Template:Coor dm. It has a population of around 45,500 people (2003 est). It is the capital of both the District of Berat and the larger County of Berat.

The town is thought to be one of the oldest in Albania, with a settlement having existed there since at least the 6th century BC, when it was a fortress-settlement of the Illyrian Dasaretes tribe. Known as Antipatrea, it was captured by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Berat became part of the unstable frontier of the Byzantine Empire following the fall of the Roman Empire and, along with much of the rest of the Balkan peninsula, it suffered from repeated invasions by Slavs and other "barbarian" tribes.

It was captured by the Bulgarians in the 9th century, who renamed it Beligrad ("white city"), from which the present name is derived. The Bulgarians were eventually driven out in the 11th century. During the 13th century, it fell to Michael Angelus Comnenus, the ruler of Epirus, before passing to the Serbs in 1345. The Ottoman Empire conquered it in 1450 and retained it until 1912, although it did not retain direct control for the whole of this period - in 1809, the tyrannical Ali Pasha seized the town.

During the period of Ottoman rule, Berat fell into severe decline; by the end of the 16th century it had only 710 houses. It began to recover in the 17th century and became a major craft centre specialising in wood carving. The town is still renowned for its historic architecture and scenic beauty and is known as the "Town of a Thousand Windows", due to the many large windows of the old decorated houses overlooking the town.

Modern Berat consists of three parts divided by the Ossum River: Gorica, Mangalem and Kalaja, the latter being a residential quarter within the old Byzantine citadel that overlooks the town. The town also has a 15th century mosque and a number of churches of the Albanian Orthodox Church, whose autocephaly was proclaimed there in 1922. Several of the churches house works by the renowned 16th century painter Onufri.

See also

External links

et:Berat it:Berat pl:Berat sq:Berati sv:Berat fi:Berat

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