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05:02, 17 July 2018 Tuesday
11:31, 07 July 2018 Saturday

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Steeped in history but crumbling, Albania's 'slanted city'
Steeped in history but crumbling, Albania's 'slanted city'

Now the house lies in ruins, like dozens of others in the "City of Stone", defined by its castle, steep cobblestone roads and silvery-coloured limestone structures with views of the Drino Valley near the border with Greece.

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Lolomani dwelling, formerly the home of the Ottoman period family of that name, was once an impressive sight in the mountainside town of Gjirokastra in southern Albania.

Many of the centuries-old, fortified buildings, which won the town a place on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005, are a tourist attraction but at risk of disappearing.

Some are deserted or have not been maintained for years, others underwent changes that have destroyed their historic value, or have too many owners to agree on the necessary work or too poor to do it.

Authorities in the Balkan nation don't have the means to restore them either.

"I feel pain for every stone, every wall that is getting damaged," sighs Email Nacaj, a 58-year-old house painter, who remembers the collapse of the Lolomani house in winter 2016.

Below, the roof of his own house has half fallen in.

"I'm scared here, but my mother does not want to leave," he says.

Even if he had the money, he couldn't do anything -- his cousin, who lives in the capital, Tirana, and is a co-owner, refuses.

Out of 615 monuments in the town's historic centre "more than half are subjected to illegal or out-of-context constructions, while 169 are in critical condition or at risk of collapse," warned Europa Nostra, a pan-European federation of heritage NGOs, early this year.

 

 



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