FORTRESS OF GJIROKASTRA Gjirokastra Albania

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FORTRESS OF GJIROKASTRA Gjirokastra Albania

FORTRESS OF GJIROKASTRA

Gjirokastra

Albania


INTEGRATED REHABILITATION PROJECT PLAN /

SURVEY OF THE ARCHITECTURAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL HERITAGE

(IRPP/SAAH)

Regional Programme

for Cultural and Natural Heritage

in South East Europe

2003 - 2006

PRELIMINARY TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT

OF THE ARCHITECTURAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL

HERITAGE IN SOUTH EAST EUROPE

Document adopted by

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports of the Republic of Albania,

on 12 December 2006

FORTRESS OF GJIROKASTRA

Gjirokastra

Albania


FOREWORD

In the framework of the European Commission/Council of

Europe Joint Programme on the Integrated Rehabilitation

Project Plan /Survey on the Architectural and Archaeological

Heritage (IRPP/SAAH), the present Preliminary Technical

Assessment (PTA) was prepared by the following local expert:

Mr. Reshat Gega and Mr. Sulejman Dashi, Architects-Restorers,

Institute of Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Albania

headed by Mr. Apollon Baçe, IRPP/SAAH Project Coordinator,

in cooperation with the PTA expert group: Leader Dr. John Bold

(United Kingdom); Experts: Ms. Emma Carmichael (United

Kingdom), Mr. Giorgio Gianighian (Italy), Mr. Andreas

Heymowski (Sweden), Mr. David Johnson (United Kingdom),

Mr. Pedro Ponce de Leon (Spain), Mr. Alkis Prepis (Greece).

The Preliminary Technical Assessment (PTA) was adopted by

the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports of the

Republic of Albania, on 12 December 2006.


Preliminary Technical Assessment of the Architectural and Archaeological Heritage in South East Europe

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1. Introductory page

Site Map The Fortress of Gjirokastra

1.1 Country or Territory: Republic of Albania

1.2 Name of organisation: Institute of Cultural Monuments

compiling the information:

1.3 Contact name: Reshat Gega, Architect-Restorer

Sulejman Dashi, Architect-Restorer

1.4 Email address: reshatgega@yahoo.com

1.5 Name and address of building or site: The Fortress of Gjirokastra

1.6 Inventory reference number(s): Va. 108

1.7 Building/Monument/Site type: Architectural ensemble, medieval fortification

1.8 Main dates: 13 th -18 th century

1.9 Current use(s): The Army Museum and used during a Folk Festival

2. Executive summary: The site and its management

Located on the eastern side of the city, the fortress is built on a high hill. Its picturesque setting and

extraordinary geo-strategic location means that the fortress dominates the town, as well as the

impressive Drinos valley. The fortress was built in the 13 th century, when it was a feudal centre. It

became a residence later and continued to play this role throughout the Ottoman period. In the early

19 th century, it was enlarged and part of the old nucleus was rebuilt. The ground plan of the citadel is

nearly 500m long and 50-100m wide, set along the elongated hilltop. The historic structures were built

in stone with lime mortar, and are still standing although the site is in ruins. It is crowned by a series of

defence towers of different forms (rectangular, polygon and circular). There are three entrances: the

oldest of which is from the north; the other two were built during the 19 th century enlargement. The

citadel had underground reservoirs to store water provided by an aqueduct, which was some 10km

long, one of the longest from that period. Development outside the citadel began in 14 th century with its

best period dating from 17 th century. The residential quarters developed organically following the

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morphology of the rough and rocky terrain. In the centre, just north of the citadel, there is the market

area, the Old Bazaar, dating from the beginning of the 17 th century.

The Fortres of Gjirokastra dominates the town of Gjirokastra which was listed as a UNESCO World

Heritage Site in July 2005. The Regional Directorate of Monuments of Gjirokastra and the Municipality

are responsible for its maintenance and management. The revitalisation of the castle will create

opportunities for social use and sustainable development, such as craftsmen’s shops, restaurants in

the inner areas, and to hold different cultural activities (e.g. exhibitions, workshops, seminars etc.).

3. Administrative information

3.1 Responsible Authorities

The monument is state property, owned by the Institute of Monuments of Culture.

The Regional Directorate of Monuments of Gjirokastra and the Municipality are responsible for its

maintenance and management.

3.2 Building/Site, Name and Address

Gjirokastra fortress (Kalaja e Gjirokastres) in Gjirokastra town.

3.3 Map reference

Not available

3.4 Type of monument

Architectural ensemble, medieval fortification.

3.5 Ownership

State property.

3.6 Statutory Protection/Constraints

The fortress is a First Category Monument (the highest rank of protection in Albanian legislation).

Gjirokastra town, including the fortress, was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Each potential intervention must be submitted to and approved by the National Council of Restoration.

Once the approval of this Council is given, the works are carried out under the supervision of

specialists from the Institute of Monuments of Culture and the Local Directorate of Gjirokastra.

4. Summary of condition

4.1 Summary of Physical Condition

Poor: the lack of systematic maintenance work is the main cause of the general deterioration of the

monument.

4.2 Condition Risk Assessment

The citadel is at serious risk from further deterioration of the south-east surrounding walls as a result of

cracks in the rock massif which is the foundation of the castle walls.

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4.3 Priority for intervention

The citadel is a high priority, especially considering the rock massif and the south-east defensive walls.

5. Existing information

5.1 Documentary sources

Documentation is available in the archives of the Institute of Monuments of Culture in Tirana and in the

Local Directorate of Monuments of Culture in Gjirokastra. The documents consist of plans, drawings,

and terrestrial photographs in black and white (of poor quality), digital photographs, records of previous

restoration works and publications.

They can be consulted upon official request to the Institute of Monuments of Culture.

5.2 Bibliography (All the titles are in Albanian)

1. Dilo L., “The castle of Gjirokastra”, 2nd Conference of Albanological Studies, 2nd edition Tirana,

1969, p. 463-465.

2. Kamberi Th., “How Gjirokastra town was furnished with water”, Monuments of culture in Albania ,

1975, p. 86-90

3. “History of Albanian Architecture” (project plan) Tirana 1979.

4. Komata D., “Excavations of 1983. The castle of Gjirokastra”, Illyria 1983, p. 259-260.

5. Komata D., “Traces of Illyrian antiquity and middle-age period in the castle of Gjirokastra”, Iliria,

1988, p. 165- 177

6. Shtylla V., “The old water reservoir of Gjirokastra Castle”, Monumentet 20 (1980), p. 69-81.

5.3 Fieldwork already conducted

Conservation and restoration works consist mainly of partial interventions to repair serious

deterioration of the surrounding defensive walls. In general, the monument has suffered from a lack of

funding for restoration projects and rehabilitation. The north part of the citadel faces serious static

sustainability problems. The outer walls cracks are mainly the result of the deterioration of the rock

massif which is the foundation for the castle walls.

1. Before 1990, conservation works for the entire citadel area and maintenance of the surrounding

walls, towers, Clock Tower, paths, galleries and museum was carried out.

2. In 1994-1995, the reconstruction of the terrace of the Army Museum was completed. Cost:

120 000 US$.

3. In 1999-2001 the interior part of the Army Museum was constructed. Cost: 200 000 US$.

4. During 2003, 2004 and 2005 partial and small scale projects have been implemented, mainly for

functional improvements and emergencies:

- a northern wall section of the citadel collapsed as a consequence of the internal degradation. The

reconstruction project implemented cost around 60 000 US$;

-a project was implemented for the rehabilitation and functional improvement of a stage and the

surrounding area of the central bailey of the citadel (once in four years the National Folk Festival is

held here). Cost: 200 000 US$.

5.4 Projects in progress

No project in progress. Only simple and partial conservation works.

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5.5 Projects already planned

In 1995 Dr. Eng. Lili Dhame completed a technical report on the geological condition of the citadel and

the necessary prerequisite steps that should be taken into consideration.

In 2002 a technical report, prepared by Gezim Struga and Nuro Dhima, analysed in detail the concerns

of the massif which the citadel is based on, from a geological and static point of view. The estimated

cost of this project has been evaluated at around 3 million US$. The project has not been financed.

In 2004-2005 the architect, Reshat Gega, drew up a project for the restoration and rehabilitation of the

Clock Tower and the surrounding area. The total estimated amount is 150 000 US$. The project has

not been financed.

5.6 Financial estimates already made

Approximate estimates of 3 million US$ and 150 000 US$.

6. Scope of the PTA

6.1 Extent/Nature of the assessment

Individuals involved in the PTA work:

Dr. Reshat Gega, architect-restorer, ICM, Albania.

Dr. Sulejman Dashi, architect-restorer, ICM, Albania.

Prof. Alkiviades Prepis, Architect, Greece, CoE expert.

Time spent: 1 day on-site and 3 days for archive and group work in the office.

6.2 Limitations of the study

No access from outside to external parts of perimeter walls, due to vegetation and the inclination of the

rock massif. Difficult access to the parts of the defensive walls most at risk. Difficult to get inside the

walls’ vaulting constructions (casemates) and no access to the underground areas of the Fortress.

7. The Preliminary Technical Assistance

7.1 Background: Form, Function and Evolution

7.1.1 Summary description of the building/site, with comments on its urban or rural

context if appropriate

The area of the citadel is nearly 500m long and 50-100m wide, set along the elongated hilltop.

There are three entrances: the oldest of these is to the north; the other two were built during

the 19 th century enlargement phase. The citadel has underground water reservoirs, supplied by

an aqueduct, which was some 10km long, one of the longest dating from that period.

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The citadel walls and the historic structures were built using local limestone (schist) placed in

horizontal rows of equal height and cemented with lime mortar. The gates and the galleries are

covered by arches and vaults. The towers and curves of the surrounding wall have been

reinforced with polygon siding, using hewn stone on the wall edges. The fortifications are

crowned by a series of defence towers of different forms (rectangular, polygon and circular).

Typical features of defence architecture of the time are the height, width and inclination of the

walls, the polygon towers and the platforms, used for heavy artillery weapons. A significant

feature is that the castle does not have an embankment. The monochromic, uniform limestone,

as well as the inclination of the walls, increases the grandiosity of the monument. In general,

the majority of the defensive walls are still standing, although the bastions are in ruins. The

interior of the citadel has many ground-floor and underground areas and galleries with

impressive dimensions.

7.1.2 Summary historic development and evolution of the building or site, from the

earliest times until the present day

The fortress of Gjirokastra is an authentic example of 18 th century fortifications in Albania and

the Balkans in general. The existing fortifications were built by Petro Korcari, the Albanian

architect of Ali Pasha Tepelena.

The Castle of Gjirokastra is mentioned for the first time in 1336, when it was the centre for the

Zenebisi and Gjin Bua Shpata Albanian families. At that time Gjirokastra was under the

Byzantine administration of the Despotat of Epirus. In 1417 the castle was invaded by the

Ottoman army. The development outside the citadel began in the 14 th century, with its best

period dating from the 17 th century. These residential quarters developed organically following

the morphology of the rough and rocky terrain. To the north of the citadel there is the market

area, the Old Bazaar ( Pazari i vjetër ), dating from the beginning of the 17 th century. In the 18 th

century the castle was totally rebuilt by Ali Pasha Tepelena following a modern fortification

typology of that time. In the early 19 th century it was enlarged, and part of the old nucleus was

rebuilt. From the archaeological excavations already carried out inside the castle, data, walls,

and archaeological materials have been found, proving the existence of a citadel since the

Roman and Byzantine periods.

7.2 Significance

7.2.1 Summary statement of significance/historical and heritage importance

The Fortress of Gjirokastra dominates the town of Gjirokastra which was listed as a UNESCO

World Heritage Site in July 2005. The citadel of Gjirokastra is one of the fortified engineering

works undertaken by Ali Pashe Tepelena. This monument is the biggest of this group. It is an

authentic example of this type of fortification with a specific historical locality, which requires

investigation and protection.

Evaluation of the Significance:

7.2.2 Historical: International

7.2.3 Artistic/Aesthetic: National

7.2.4 Technological: National

7.2.5 Religious/Spiritual: Regional

7.2.6 Symbolic: National

7.2.7 Scientific/Research: National

7.2.8 Social/Civic: National

7.2.9 Natural: National

7.2.10 Economic: Regional

7.2.11 Character of significance: International

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7.3 Vulnerability/Risk assessment

See Appendix 3.

7.4 Technical condition

The Fortress of Gjirokastra faces many constraints that are: static, constructional, structural, and

architectural. The static issues mainly concern the abnormal static condition of the rock massif on

which the surrounding walls are based. Consequently vertical cracks in the south-east part of the

citadel have been observed. Meanwhile many problems have arisen due to serious soil erosion.

Another problem for the walls is humidity.

The interventions mainly comprise the consolidation of the surrounding walls and particularly of the

rock massif. This massif is cracked in different parts and risks subsiding, leading to the collapse of the

castle walls. This would be a catastrophe for the inhabited quarter located in the square near the

castle.

The reinforcement of the foundations is proposed, using cement to widen them.

7.5 Outline summary of required repairs

Proposed interventions:

- further investigation, with modern apparatus, of the geological issues;

- investigation of the wall structure, static observations, technical building observations and

documentation of the dynamics where incidents occur;

- intervention to solve geological problems, e.g. the eastern massif and soil erosion;

- digging and archaeological excavation in the interior part of the citadel;

- conservation and restoration intervention to the surrounding walls;

- eliminating the problems of humidity and water entrances in wall structures;

- reconstruction of galleries in central parts;

- revitalisation of pathways;

- infrastructure works, e.g. the electrical installations and signs;

- clearing vegetation;

- planting trees around the citadel;

- restoration of the interior parts and definition of modern uses according to cultural heritage

treatment criteria;

- implementation of the management plan, in order to facilitate and support cultural tourism and the

economic development of Gjirokastra.

7.6 Conservation/rehabilitation policy and proposals

7.6.1 Broad summary

The Citadel will be restored for public access as a museum and for tourist purposes. It will

remain under the ownership and custody of the Institute of Monuments and also under the

custody of the Municipality of Gjirokastra, which will collaborate on maintenance.

7.6.2 Conservation philosophy

In a second phase it will be necessary to undertake restoration of the functional areas of the

castle so as to use them as part of a nature museum.

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7.6.3 Level of intervention

The stages of intervention are as follows: design of the restoration project; intervention works

on the masonry and, after that, all other parts of the complex.

7.6.4 Reconstruction

Partial reconstructions could be carried out, but the integrity of the site must not be harmed.

The conservation and restoration work includes the entire castle to prevent further

deterioration. Restoration and/or partial reconstruction of the corridor of the perimeter wall

could constitute a protected tourist site.

We propose that the festival stage be movable rather than static.

7.6.5 Engagement with social activities

The revitalisation of the castle will create opportunities for social use and sustainable

development, such as: craftsmen’s shops, restaurants in the inner areas as well as a cultural

role for different activities (e.g. exhibitions, workshops, seminars etc.).

7.6.6 Public access

This should be arranged in consultation with local community representatives to avoid future

conflicts of interest. Today a lot of people often visit the fortress recreationally as it offers a

marvellous view over the city and valley.

7.6.7 Broad assessment of priorities

The first priority for the fortress must be the consolidation of the massif and terrain in parallel

with further investigation.

The second priority should be a general cleaning of the fortress.

The third priority should be consolidation/repair/conservation work on the walls and vaulted

constructions. Eliminating the problems of humidity and water inlets into wall structures.

Interior and exterior repair works could generally proceed in parallel with systematic

archaeological work to determine the origins of the site and its development (ancient,

Byzantine and Ottoman periods).

The forth priority must be the reconstruction of certain buildings or parts of the fortress, as

detailed in a feasibility study, as well as the very carefully designed additions required for the

new uses (to be decided).

The fifth priority is ensuring accessibility together with specialised lighting.

7.6.8 Other Benefits

The castle is very important asset for the town. It has historical, architectural, and tourist values

for the town. Potential community benefits.

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7.7 Finance

7.7.1 Broad assessment of budgetary needs and phasing

Three different projects have been prepared, dealing with:

a) geological problems,

b) conservation works,

c) and the conservation and rehabilitation project for the Clock Tower.

7.7.2 Assessment of possibilities for attracting investments

State funds are very difficult to secure because they are limited.

7.7.3 Assessment of possibilities for recovering investments

State funds for the monument are insufficient.

7.7.4 Have you already tried to raise funds for this site or monument?

The UNDP organisation has showed interest in financing several projects in the citadel areas,

but this has not received the support of the local government.

7.7.5 Have you already received funds for this site or monument?

Yes. Please, see the figures in Section 5.3.

7.8 Recommendations

7.8.1 The Building or Site

The condition of the monument is getting worse, therefore the restoration interventions are

urgent. To be carried out as follows:

- consolidation of the massif and terrain;

- further examination, with modern tools, of the geological issues;

- digging and archaeological excavation in the interior part of the citadel;

- conservation and restoration of the surrounding walls;

- eliminating the problems of humidity and water inlets to wall structures;

- reconstruction of the central parts of the galleries;

- revitalisation of pathways and ensuring accessibility.

7.8.2 Feasibility study

Conservation work aims to preserve the typology and the architectural, urban and cultural

aspect of the citadel. As an example of Albanian Built Cultural Heritage and a part of the urban

fabric of Gjirokastra, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005, the institutions

responsible for interventions on the fortress are:

- the Regional Directory of Monuments of Culture of Gjirokastra;

-the Institute of Monuments of Culture;

-and the Municipality of Gjirokastra.

At the moment different NGOs are cooperating in order to identify and solve the main problems

facing cultural heritage in Gjirokastra.

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8. Documentation

7.8.3 Management

A group of specialists should be involved in the management of the project and its

implementation.

According to Law No. 9048 on the Cultural Heritage in Albania, persons responsible for the

realisation of the project are: the author of the project, the Regional Directory in Gjirokastra,

and the licensed building/restoration firm.

Extracts attached to the PTA:

1. map of the site;

2. historical photos of buildings;

3. present-day photos of buildings, landscape panoramas;

4. Cadastral plan;

5. architectural plans.

9. Feasibility Studies

A feasibility study has to be undertaken for a detailed assessment of consolidation, restoration and

reconstruction interventions, and of the monument’s adaptation to its new functions. The internationally

accepted principles on restoration should be taken into consideration.

PTA carried out by:

Dr. Reshat Gega, Architect – restorer at ICM Albania.

Dr. Sulejman Dashi, Architect – restorer at ICM Albania.

Prof. Alkiviades Prepis, Architect, Greece, CoE expert.

Signed and dated:

August 2006

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Wall restored in 2004

Appendix 1

View of the Clock Tower complex

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a. Technical Description

Appendix 2

1. The foundations

1.a Description, weaknesses: Geological problems of the rocky massif, and soil erosion problems.

1.b Damages, (effects) threats: There are extend cracks in the rock and soil erosion.

1.c Deterioration measures - Rate of deterioration: High

1.d Supposed interventions:

• Consolidation of the massif and elimination of the effects of soil erosion.

• Conservation and consolidation intervention to the foundations and the surrounding wall of the citadel.

1.e Priority of intervention : Urgent

1.f Cost:

• Consolidation of the massif 3 million US$

• Conservation and consolidation of the foundations and defensive walls 2 million US$

5 million US$

2. The walls and the sustaining structure

2.a Description, weaknesses: Constructional and structural problems

2.b Damages, (effects) threats: There are vertical cracks, deterioration and detachments of the walls.

2.c Deterioration measures: Static affected anomalies of the massif, the deterioration of the internal wall

structures, humidity.

Rate of deterioration: High.

2.d Supposed interventions: Consolidation of the internal structures of the walls (cleaning, washing and filling);

protection against humidity.

2.e Priority of intervention: Urgent

2.f Cost: 2 million US$

3. The floor of the galleries

3.a Description, weaknesses: Loss of grazing material.

3.b Damages, (effects) threats: There are cracks in the alcoves

3.c Deterioration measure: Amortisation of materials.

Rate of deterioration: Medium

3.d Supposed interventions: Restoration of the floors.

3.e Priority of intervention: Medium

3.f Cost: 150 000 US$

6. Doors and windows

6 . a Description, weaknesses: The majority have been destroyed.

6.b Damages, (effects) threats: Lack of maintenance.

6.c Deterioration measures - Rate of deterioration: Medium.

6.d Supposed interventions: Restoration and filling.

6.e Priority of intervention: Medium.

6.f Cost: 150 000 US$

8. Infrastructure

8.a Description, weaknesses: The infrastructure has degraded.

8.b Damages, (effects) threats: Paths partly destroyed, the water and electrical systems do not work properly.

8.c Deterioration measures: Lack of maintenance.

Rate of deterioration: Medium.

8.d Supposed interventions: Total reconstruction works and restoration.

8.e Priority of intervention: Medium.

8.f Cost: 1 million US$

TOTAL COST 8 300 000 US$

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Appendix 3

1. Natural threats

• extreme natural phenomena (earthquakes);

• natural phenomena caused by accident (fire, earth slides, etc.);

• erosion;

• insects, bird nests, other animal activity;

• climatic factors (rain, wind);

• water management (moisture);

• rotted materials.

2. Tourism

• lack of road signs, guardians, maintenance.

3. The impact of the society disorders

• lack of staff training in case of an emergency.

4. Robbery

• failure to protect the monuments.

5. The archaeological excavations as a damaging factor

• lack of coordination between the scientific mission and the local authorities.

6. Inappropriate interventions

• unaesthetic reconstructions.

7. Lack of maintenance

• growth of vegetation;

• stagnated water.

8. Deficiency of administration and legislation

• inappropriate institutional support;

• unclear criteria for protected areas;

• insufficient inclusion of the heritage in development plans;

• awareness raising;

• emergency plans.

9. Structure destabilisation

• structure deformation and collapse;

• deterioration of the materials, fissures; breakages.

10. Sources

• lack of maintenance and restoration funds;

• lack of project management skills.

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