US$1,300 for one week
US$2,300 for two weeks
Additional Cost Information:
All costs are per person and based on double occupancy.
Single supplement (US$400 per week) is available.
Discounts! Past participants always receive a discounted tour fee
Check out AiP's Loyalty Program
Your fee includes:
- Ground transportation between Tirana and Gjirokastra
- Lodging from Thursday of arrival in Tirana through Friday night before departure
- Meals in Gjirokastra from dinner on Friday of arrival through breakfast on departure day
- Excursions during your trip dates
- Instruction from project experts
All participants are responsible for:
- Transportation to group meeting point in Tirana
- Albania visas
- Travel health insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage
- A review of our Welcome Package, sent upon receipt of your trip deposit. It contains important information for pre-trip preparation and additional information about the project and the area
Camilla is a Conservation Architect from Denmark and Associate Partner in the architectural firm of Karsten Rønnows Tegnestue A/S. She has a degree from Aarhus School of Architecture and a Masters of Science in Architectural Conservation from Edinburgh University. She has been involved in conservation in Gjirokastra since 2008.
Cultural Heritage without Borders
CHwB is an international relief organization working to promote peace, recovery and development through the preservation of cultural heritage.
Gjirokastra Conservation and Development Organization
GCDO is an Albanian NGO whose primary objectives are to conserve Gjirokastra’s historic buildings and assist in protection of the World Heritage city; foster economic regeneration; promote sustainable development; and advance the cultural life of the city.
Saving the Skenduli House
Date: April 25 – May 9, 2014; September 12-26, 2014
Gjirokastra is working to address a crisis. The town’s historic Ottoman-era tower houses are collapsing one after another, reducing the town’s ability to build a sustainable economy based on heritage tourism – its only readily available resource.
Concerned citizens formed the Gjirokastra Conservation and Development Organization (GCDO) and initiated programs to save their cultural heritage. The town now needs the assistance of preservationists and travelers from around the world. AiP volunteers are part of this effort, working with Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) and Balkan specialists to save the Skenduli house.
The Skenduli house is a magnificent example of the marriage of Albanian and Ottoman architecture. In 1993, the Communist government returned the house to the one remaining Skenduli family member living in Gjirokastra. Nesip Skenduli has devoted himself to preserving the massive house, which is slowly deteriorating.
The city now recognizes the Skenduli house as a pivotal piece of their plan to attract tourists to this World Heritage Site. In 2012, after two years of planning and fundraising, AiP and CHwB began preservation work. A team of twenty Albanian architecture students began restoration of the exterior lime plaster and the main entrance gate which had partially collapsed. Local roofing experts undertook much-needed repairs to the stone slab roof.
AiP is currently fundraising for the next phase of work, to take place in 2014. Restoration work will include re-pointing exterior stone; repairing wood window features and metal grills; restoring wood balcony features; and plasterwork.
Your involvement is vital! Start planning your preservation vacation now; Lonely Planet ranked Albania as #1 in their Best in Travel 2011 so don’t miss out. Or join the effort by making a contribution, and we’ll keep you informed with updates.
If you have a special construction skill, such as plastering or carpentry, please let us know. We are also interested to hear if you have experience in photography, sketching or video work. Experience is not required, however. All volunteers are welcome.
How You Will Help the Community
Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries, but also one of its hottest tourist destinations. Gjirokastra and the rest of the country stand to benefit hugely from tourism, but real, long-term benefits depend on preservation efforts and responsible development.
Join this adventure in preservation and:
- Participate in the growing preservation movement to save Albania’s architectural heritage and help create the jobs required for its maintenance and preservation
- Give visitors touring the Skenduli house the opportunity to see and understand the type of work required to save these historic treasures
- Spread the word about Gjirokastra as an amazing tourism destination, and support the development of a sustainable economy.
- Support training of local youth in traditional trades.
Why This Could Be The Greatest Adventure of Your Life
As an AiP volunteer, you will:
- Explore and restore the intricate architectural detailing of the museum-quality Skenduli house
- Glimpse hundreds of years of the city’s history as you wander 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. You’ll keep your new friendships for a lifetime too!
We will stay at the Kotoni Bed & Breakfast, which sits above the old city bazaar and provides a striking view of the city.
Most of our 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.
Excursions, along with the hands-on work, will foster a deep appreciation for this beautiful country and its history. 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 and is also a World Heritage site.
This adventure begins and ends in Tirana; from there we will travel to Gjirokastra, located in southern Albania near the border with Greece, approximately a six-hour drive. If flying to Albania, plan to arrive at Tirana International Airport on Thursday.
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.
If you have any questions or would like to chat with an AiP staff member about joining this cultural heritage experience, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1 303-444-0128.