Safely located on a defensible mountainside overlooking a fertile valley with important trade routes, Gjirokastra has been the region’s commercial and cultural centre for centuries, and this shows in the rich cultural history of the city. The surrounding villages excel in making raki liqour and dairy products that are popular on every market in the country, while craftsmen have perfected their skills in stone and wood carving, and copper and brass crafts. Examples of Gjirokastra’s woven rugs, intricately embroidered textiles, lace and elaborate folk costumes can be viewed in the city’s museums, especially those from the Lunxhëri and Dropulli regions are impressive. Men’s costumes in this area include the typical white pleated kilt called fustanella and the typical Albanian white felt plis cap. As elsewhere in the region, the traditional droning iso-polyphonic singing plays an important role in local culture and is often heard at celebrations - Unesco has even recognised Albanian polyphonic music as intangible cultural heritage. If you’re lucky enough to be here when the Gjirokastra National Folklore Festival takes place at the castle every five years, you’ll have the chance to hear these songs and see traditional dances performed by the best national groups.