A trip to Gjirokastër for the Fustanella Festival !

Fustanella

On this sunny Saturday was the Fustanella Festival. The term « fustanella » refers to an Albanian traditional piece of cloth worn by men from the XIIIth century. It is a sort of kilt but in a white color. Nowadays, the tradition to wear this type of cloth remains solely in the South of the country, in the region of Gjirokastër, during festive events.

 

This edition of the Fustanella festival took place on the heights of Gjirokastër, in the fortress garden. This place offers a perfect setting for this event, with an overhanging view on the stone city, facing the mountains. The old edifice, heritage from the past, reminds us in a certain way of the ancient traditions. On this day, it created a contrast with traditional music intertwined with modern and at times international notes.

 

The large audience then had the opportunity to enjoy traditional isopolyphonic music with Albanian Iso Phonic Choir. These unique songs are precious to Albania as they got classified by the UNESCO as a World Heritage.

Spectators also had the chance to appreciate the music of Koza Mostra, on an alternative rock and ska type of note this time.

 

The featuring between Fanfara Tirana and Transglobal Underground was a nicely surprising combination as well, mixing Albanian brass band sounds with exotic vocals. The evening ended on contrasted not with the American electronic band H.A.T.

This festival finished on a high note with an instrumental demonstration of electrical guitar, cello, and drums, led by Robert Bisha. Lastly, the band The River Voices consisting only of Albanian women wearing traditional clothes, sang some more isopolyphonic songs.

 

This was an opportunity to stroll in the little streets of Gjirokastër, on the look for the old stones of the UNESCO classified town. Visitors can there visit the refurbished house of the famous Albanian writer, Ismail Kadare, as well as the one of the ex-dictator Enver Hoxha, now turned into an ethnographic museum.

On top of that, the Skenduli house, one of the largest ottoman style habitations in Gjirokastër opens its doors to the curious. Mr Skenduli, the landlord, offers a commented visit in French, and her daughter in English.

Last but not least, travelers may wander in the bazaar, where embroidery and stone or wooden sculpted objects shops go one after the other.

 

An excursion to Gjirokastër gives the opportunity to every traveler to immerse him/herself into an authentic and traditional Albania, reflecting the habits and customs from the past.