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The Zekate House-Gjirokastër

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Discover the Fascinating Zekate House in Gjirokastër

Gjirokastër, a charming town in southern Albania, is known for its rich history and stunning architecture. Among the many historical buildings that dot the cobblestone alleys, one stands out as a true gem - The Zekate House. This fortified tower house, also known as a kullë in Albanian, is a testament to the wealth and grandeur of the city's elite in the 19th century.

A Glimpse into the Past

Built in 1811-1812, The Zekate House belonged to Beqir Zeko, a general administrator of Ali Pasha, a prominent political figure of the Ottoman Empire. This three-story house served as a residence for the Zeko family and showcases the architectural style prevalent during that era. The house's defensive features, including its strong walls and towers, highlight the turbulent times in which it was constructed.

Architectural Marvels

As you step inside The Zekate House, you'll be greeted by a fascinating blend of Ottoman and Albanian architectural elements. The ground floor houses storage rooms, a kitchen, and a cistern, while the first floor features living quarters for different branches of the family. The third floor boasts a grand reception room, adorned with frescoed walls, a carved ceiling, and an ornate fireplace.

One of the most impressive spots in the house is the beautifully decorated oda and çardak in the center. These traditional Albanian features provide a glimpse into the lifestyle and social customs of the inhabitants of Gjirokastër centuries ago. The house's double arch facade and two towers add to its grandeur, making it a sight to behold.

Historical Significance

The Zekate House is not only a testament to the wealth and power of the Zeko family but also offers visitors a unique understanding of the vernacular architecture of Gjirokastër. The house provides a window into the lifestyle and traditions of the city's inhabitants during the Ottoman era. Its strategic location also offers panoramic views of the river valley, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds Gjirokastër.

When to Visit

Gjirokastër is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit The Zekate House is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is pleasant. The mild temperatures make exploring the town and its historical sites more enjoyable. Additionally, Gjirokastër hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, providing visitors with a chance to immerse themselves in the local traditions and customs.

Exploring Gjirokastër

While visiting The Zekate House, take the time to explore the rest of Gjirokastër. The town is home to the Gjirokastër Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the old town, admiring the well-preserved Ottoman-era houses and visiting the Ethnographic Museum to learn more about the region's history and culture.

For nature enthusiasts, the nearby Zagori National Park offers hiking trails and breathtaking landscapes. Don't miss the chance to savor the local cuisine, which features delicious traditional dishes such as qifqi (rice balls) and tavë kosi (baked lamb with yogurt).


The Zekate House in Gjirokastër is a must-visit destination for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. Its rich history, stunning architectural features, and panoramic views make it a captivating place to explore. Immerse yourself in the past and discover the fascinating stories that this fortified tower house has to offer.

Updated on 27 May 2024

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