The Zekate House

The Zekate House

The best surviving example of an ottoman tower house in Gjirokastra’ (prof. dr Emin Riza)

The fortified tower houses – known as kullë (kullë is Turkish for tower) belonged to wealthy individuals such as administrative officials or merchants. They all follow a basic layout: a secure stone lower storey topped by a wooden gallery where the principal rooms for an extended family are located.  Embrasures are set in the walls to help defend against attacking enemies. The Zekate House is a particularly grand example of the typical kullë (tower-house).  Constructed in 1811-1812 it has twin towers and a great double arched façade. The views of the town and the river valley below are spectacular.

There are three floors; the ground floor contains storage rooms, a high ceilinged kitchen and the cistern.  There is a central staircase which winds upwards through the building. The first floor has two rooms that were used as living quarters for branches of the family, while the third floor has a grand reception room and two other smaller rooms. The principal room is very typical of the grandest of these dwellings with frescoed walls, a carved ceiling and an ornate fireplace.  This level would have been shared by the whole family.  At the centre of floor at the top of the staircase there is a wooden balcony overlooking the town.  This has a raised section on which the head of the family would sit, meet his guests and watch what went on in the city below.

The Zekate house is open for visitors. A family member will come out and unlock the door.

Entrance fee is 200 Leke.

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