Gjirokastra is another picturesque Albanian city, which spread gradually downhill from its imposing castle. The castle is an enormous defensive fortification, brooding and watchful on top of its hill. It controls the Drinos Valley and the passes through the Lunxheria Mountains, a jagged mass topped with snow even in May.

The area inside the castle walls is vast. The main gallery now houses a display of cannon and there are several large parade grounds, one of them large enough to house the staging for the International Festival of Folk Music.

In 1929, King Zog had the vaults turned into a prison for his enemies, with punishment cells. There is a brooding atmosphere about the place, which may be lightened when all the planned restorations are completed.