Photos: Argyrocastro

14 Jan

This intersection of two streets with this beautiful black-and-white diamond kaldırım, form the commercial center of old Gjirokastër — though this was taken on a quiet New Year’s Day, in fact.  In my father’s memories of being taken to Argyrocastro as a child it always sounded like it was the Champs-Élysées.  In the gigantic Byzantine/Ottoman fortress that sprawls over the ridge above the city — seen in the upper-right of the top photo — my grandfather served several prison sentences.

Argyro kalderimi down kastro

Argyro kalderimi up

And, below, an old photo of Dropolitisses, with their trademark mandyli, on the same street, looking like shy, peasant women in the big city — one seeming to pull the edge of her kerchief over her mouth like some Indian women do with the edge of their sari to indicate modesty.


The city’s castle from the air, which is really the only way to get the whole massive structure in one shot — not the widest angle lens would do.


It was used as a prison till the end of the communist period in 1990.  Mostly it was a processing institution for those political prisoners who were being given sentences in labor camps further north in the country, like my grandfather.  But he had served a few shorter sentences here before WWII for “un-patriotic” activities, I guess they were called.  See: Easter eggs: a grandmother and a grandfather.”

A cell.



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