Permet gets historic center status in bid to promote tourism

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 24, 2017 15:42

Permet gets historic center status in bid to promote tourism

Story Highlights

  • “Permet should not only be a town of flowers, the gliko jam, raki traditional alcoholic drink and Laver Bariu’s famous kaba instrumental music, but also a town of cultural and historical heritage. The historic centers project as a driver of growth also spans in Permet which should no longer be a sleeping beauty, but a lively and not to be missed tourist and cultural destination,” says Culture Minister Mirela Kumbaro

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The Benja thermal springs

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TIRANA, Jan. 24 – The southern Albanian town of Permet, nicknamed as the city of flowers, has been declared a historic center, paving the way to restoration projects in a bid to make it more attractive to tourists who are already discovering the town through rafting on the Vjosa River canyons.

“The Albanian government paves the way to restoration projects in the historic center in the City of Flowers. The revitalization project of the Permet City Stone is ready to kick off,” says Culture Minister Mirela Kumbaro.

“Permet should not only be a town of flowers, the gliko jam, raki traditional alcoholic drink and Laver Bariu’s famous kaba instrumental music, but also a town of cultural and historical heritage. The historic centers project as a driver of growth also spans in Permet which should no longer be a sleeping beauty, but a lively and not to be missed tourist and cultural destination,” the minister has said.

The proposed Permet historic center lies on the mountain foot and includes all existing buildings mainly in the Shenkoll (St. Nicholas) and the Teqja (Bektashi Tekka) neighborhoods, which considering the composition of buildings and the cobbled streets are the areas featuring the town’s eldest traces, says the culture ministry.

There are two religious buildings within the historic center, the 1776 St. Premte church, a first-category cultural monument, and the 19th century St. Nicholas church. There are indications the cobbled streets and narrow paths date back to the early 19th century.

Permet boasts characteristic buildings although transformed, arched front doors and centuries-old cypress trees.

The Varrosh neighborhood houses, mostly two-storey ones, stand next to each other, with small front gardens surrounded by stone walls and wooden front doors.

“Permet features some early 20th century buildings within the historic center bearing special values that deserve the monument of culture status. The majority of buildings belong to the post-War II period,” say culture heritage experts.

Most of the protected area involves a green area mostly situated in the Bolenga hill, an area of huge archaeological potential which also includes the Bolenge castle and some later era buildings complementing the historic center and creating a soft transition to some other parts destined for new buildings.

The government had earlier announced a protected historic center Permet’s Benja village, an area of historic and cultural values, also known for its thermal waters.

The declaration of Permet as a historic town also comes as the World Bank has awarded a $71 million loan to boost tourism in four key southern Albania destinations, including Permet, the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Gjirokastra and Berat and the coastal southernmost Albanian town of Saranda. The project activities include urban upgrading and infrastructure improvement, tourism sites upgrading, heritage and cultural sites’ restoration, and tourism market and product development.

Permet is also known for its traditional summer multicultural festival bringing together Albanian and regional folklore musicians and dancers, celebrating the country’s cultural diversity.

Already preparing to host the 15th festival edition, Permet has been selected as a host because of its diversity as a town where different cultures and ethnicities coexist and as the hometown of Albanian folk music showcased by late maestro Laver Bariu. The festival also serves to promote tourism in a region also famous for its cultural heritage and rafting on Vjosa River and the Lengarica Canyon.

Laver Bariu, Albania’s most popular and greatest clarinetist passed away in 2014 at the age of 81 in his hometown of Permet which he promoted in Albania and abroad with his wonderful local folk tunes. Laver Bariu is arguably the best known Albanian clarinetist of the last half century and an important figure in the development of urban folk music in the south-eastern Albanian Tosk region. His iso-polyphony tunes have been placed under UNESCO protection as “a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.”

A town of some 12,000 residents, situated some 224 km south of Tirana, Permet has been inhabited for centuries, and is the hometown of the famous 19th century Frasheri brothers who had a key contribution to Albanian Renaissance movement ahead of the country’s declaration of independence in 1912 after almost five centuries under Ottoman rule.

The Permet district is known for its Benja thermal waters, the Hotova fir national park, the Trebeshinë – Dhëmbel – Nëmëreçkë mountain chain and the Kelcyra Gorge.

Back in 2015, Permet also hosted Albania’s first flower festival, bringing together flower and greenery traders and lovers in the town known for its famous canyons.

“Përmet is the city of flowers, of roses, of unparalleled songs, of purity and tranquility, known in antiquity as “Tryfilia”, inhabited by Illyrian tribes,” says the Visit Albania portal.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 24, 2017 15:42