Berat lies on the right bank of the river Osum, a short distance from the point where it is joined by the Molisht river. The old city centre consists of three parts: Kalaja (on the castle hill), Mangalem (at the foot of the castle hill) and Gorica (on the left bank of the Osum). It has a wealth of beautiful buildings of high architectural and historical interest. The pine forests above the city, on the slopes of the towering Tomorr mountains, provide a backdrop of appropriate grandeur. The Osumi river has cut a 915-metre deep gorge through the limestone rock on the west side of the valley to form a precipitous natural fortress, around which the town was built on several river terraces.
According to an Albanian legend, the Tomorr mountain was originally a giant, who fought with another giant, called Shpirag over a young woman. They killed each other and the girl drowned in her tears, which then became the Osum river.
Mount Shpirag, named after the second giant, is on the left bank of the gorge, above the district of Gorica. Berat is known to Albanians as the city of “One above another Windows (a similar epithet is sometimes applied to Gjirokastra), or The City of Two Thousand Steps. It was proclaimed a ‘Museum City’ by the dictator Enver Hoxha in June 1961. [check quotation syntax]
Registered as a world heritage in 2005 and ratified in 2008. Berati is the city where can be found traces of the Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, rich in old churches with wonderful wall paintings, icons and wood engraving. In 1961 the city was put under the protection of the Albanian state and was declared a “Museum City “.