sketching the Skenduli House Gjirokastra World Heritage SiteAdventure Details 


US$1,200* for one week

US$2,200* for two weeks 

Workshop Leader:

Camilla Nybye

Camilla, a Conservation Architect from Denmark, has been involved in conservation efforts in Gjirokastra since 2008. She has a degree from the Aarhus School of Architecture and a Masters of Science in Architectural Conservation from Edinburgh University. She is currently Associate Partner in the architectural firm of Karsten Rønnows Tegnestue A/S. Camilla is consulting architect at the Skenduli house.


Other instructors to be announced.


Workshop Sponsors:

Sponsor this workshop!


Workshop Partners:

Cultural Heritage without Borders

CHwB is an international relief organization working to promote peace, recovery and development through the preservation of cultural heritage. CHwB believes that working with cultural heritage can help vulnerable groups recover their sense of dignity and empowerment.


Gjirokastra Conservation and Development Organization

GCDO is an Albanian NGO whose primary objectives are to conserve Gjirokastra’s historic buildings and assist in the protection of the World Heritage city; to help foster economic regeneration in the heart of the historic city; to promote sustainable development in the city and the wider region; and to support and advance the cultural life of the city .


Additional Cost Information:

All costs are per person and based on double occupancy. Single supplement (US$125 per week) is available.


* Plus transportation to the site.

Saving a World Heritage Site – One Tower House at a Time

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Dates: May 13-26, 2012; September 2-15, 2012

Gjirokastra world heritage site volunteer building conservation projectThe Skenduli House is one of Gjirokasta’s tower house treasures. Its imposing exterior and beautifully detailed interior form a striking blend of Albanian and Ottoman art and architecture that delights the senses. While this tower house once stood as strong as the Ottoman Empire, it has fallen into disrepair and needs our help.

Sadly, many of this World Heritage city’s tower houses have deteriorated to a point that repair is an expensive endeavor well beyond the means of their owners. As part of an innovative approach to the problem, local youth have been chosen to receive job skills training as they work with AiP volunteers. This project is not only saving the house but also supporting heritage tourism and sustainable economic development in Gjirokastra.


Beginning with the Skenduli house, AiP has embarked on a long-term partnership with Cultural Heritage without Borders and the Gjirokastra Conservation and Development Organization to keep the tower houses standing. Our goal is to re-introduce the traditional techniques needed to maintain these architectural giants. Over the next three years, AiP will provide hands-on training to homeowners, students, professionals, aspiring tradespeople and volunteers with the ultimate aim of creating jobs and spurring economic growth.


AiP volunteers will work and learn alongside homeowners and a small group of local trainees. Our combined efforts will go far in saving an irreplaceable resource whose preservation is the key to sustainable economic development for the people of Gjirokastra.

volunteer historic building restoration project Gjirokastra Albania World Heritage SiteThe Skenduli house is a UNESCO Category 1 building, a significant contributor to Gjirokastra’s World Heritage status. Work will begin with repair of the stone roof system, followed by restoration of deteriorating plaster, decorative painting and intricate wood detailing, and revitalization of historic water storage and plumbing features.

How You Will Help the Community

Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries, but also one of its hot tourist destinations. Gjirokastra and the rest of the country stand to benefit hugely as a result, but real, long-term benefits depend on responsible development.

Join this adventure in preservation and:

  • Gain insight into the history and construction of these remarkable structures
  • Give visitors touring the Skenduli house the opportunity to see and understand the type of work required to save these historic structures
  • Help increase the appeal of Gjirokastra as a heritage tourism destination, a key to the development of a sustainable economy and creation of jobs within the community.
  • Share your enthusiasm for preservation, encouraging the owners of other tower houses to participate in – benefit from – this architectural preservation program.

Why This Could Be The Greatest Adventure of Your Life

historic preservation volunteers Gjirokastra World Heritage SiteDuring your time with AiP, you will:

  • Be able to explore, work with and restore the amazing architectural detailing of the museum-quality Skenduli house
  • Glimpse hundreds of years of the city’s history as you explore the steep cobblestone streets and twisted paths of old town Gjirokastra
  • Visualize the life of the favored under Ottoman rule as you peek through beautifully carved doorways and creep up hidden staircases
  • Play a starring role in preserving a World Heritage site.

As with all our adventures, you’ll take the skills you learn on this volunteer vacation home with you. They’re yours to use in restoring your own house, in your preservation career, or in volunteer restoration projects in your own community.


We will stay at the Kotoni Bed & Breakfast, which sits above the old city bazaar and provides a striking view of the city.

Most meals will be at Kujtim’s, a family-owned restaurant where Kujtim and Sylvana’s magic hands turn fresh local produce, fish and meat into fabulous feasts.

Field Trips

Field trips, along with the hands-on work, will foster a deep appreciation for this beautiful country and its history and heritage. We will explore historic sites in and near Gjirokastra, such as the citadel above that gives the city its name. We will also take a day-long trip to sites further afield, including Butrint National Park, which boasts some of the greatest classical ruins in the Mediterranean.

We encourage you to spend more time in this amazing country and explore the 2000-year old city of Berat, the beaches of the Ionian coast, or the hills and thrills of Northern Albania once your volunteer work ends.

The fee for this rewarding volunteer vacation is $1,200 for one week, US$2,200 for two weeks and covers:

  • Double occupancy lodging
  • Meals
  • Field trips
  • Insurance
  • Workshop training and materials.

A Single Supplement (US$125 per week) is available.

Travel Details
This adventure begins and ends in Tirana; from there we will travel to Gjirokastra, located in southern Albania near the border with Greece. If flying to Albania, plan to arrive at Tirana International Airport. Take a taxi into Tirana, and if arriving on Saturday, meet AiP participants at the Hotel California near the city center for a pleasant overnight stay. Sunday morning, we will travel together by bus to Gjirokastra, approximately a six-hour drive.


Residents of most countries will need only a valid passport to enter Albania, though citizens of some countries are required to have entry visas. Be sure to check the visa requirements for your country of origin.


If you would like assistance with travel arrangements, contact Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters, AiP’s partnering travel agency.

Take the next step!

Join this Adventure!



If you have additional questions or would like to discuss this adventure with AiP staff, please contact us at or call +1 303-444-0128.