Classical Tour of Albania

Day 4 - Skendule House, Gjirokastra


A typical  Ottoman house belonging to a wealthy family


The Ethnographic Museum was shut for refurbishment, so we visited nearby Skendule House instead. This is a typical example of a C18th/19th Ottoman house and has been described as a ‘rare and beautiful example of domestic architecture’.  It was lived in until taken over by the state in 1881 when it housed the Ethnographic Museum. After the Fall of Communism it was returned to the original family, who are lovingly restoring the house and giving guided tours.

Houses were designed to be defensive as well as comfortable homes. There were many violent feuds between neighbouring clans and threats of violence. The lower floors were designed for defence as well as being storage areas and to house livestock in the winter months. They had small windows set high in the walls. The upper floors were the main living areas and were segregated into men and women’s quarters. These were designed to reflect the wealth of the owners. Rooms were linked by wide corridors and covered balconies which could be used as additional living areas in the summer.

The house has only been open since 2015 and is a good example of a large two winged house with a central entrance to the ground floor and a flight of outside steps to the first floor rooms. It is too big to get in one shot. It has  64 windows, 44 doors, 9 fireplaces, 6 toilets and 4 hammams.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra    Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

A stout wooden door leads into the ground floor area which has three rooms. One of these was used for storage, another was the strong room and the third next to the water cistern and dug below ground area, acted as a natural fridge.
 
Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

A flight of wooden stairway with a trap door at the top leads to a large landing area on the first floor.
 
Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Off this is the living room used by the women. The men used a separate room.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

There is also a kitchen.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Stone steps lead up to the second floor landing which has an open gallery over looking the entrance. Doors lead off into the bedrooms. Each have their own fireplace.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra 

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

There is a special bedroom for newly weds as well as a guest bedroom.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra    Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Wall cupboards provide storage for bedding. This one in the guest bedroom has two doors so it can be accessed from the neighbouring room. There are latrine toilets off some of the bedrooms and also a hammam with stone floor.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra      Skendule House,
                  Gjirokastra

The wedding or ceremonial room is the best in the house with a carved wooden ceiling and stained glass windows.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

The painted fireplace decorated with pomegranates, which were a fertility symbol. There are more pomegranates carved on the wood around the doorway. 

Skendule House, Gjirokastra     Skendule House, Gjirokastra

Stairs lead up to the wooden balcony.

Skendule House, Gjirokastra

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