Gjirokastër fortress hillside ENDRI DURO
Author: Endri Duro
Affiliation: POLIS University
The city of Gjirokastër, located in the southern part of Albania, few kilometers from the border with Greece and from the port of Saranda, is one of the main cities in the country both economically and culturally. The location, cultural heritage, and the economic potential are some of the main factors that make of Gjirokastër an important region. Due to the characteristic Ottoman architecture, since 2005, the old part of the city has also been part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. Many studies conducted by the Albanian and non-Albanian planners, architects, archeologists, and engineers emphasize the importance and values the city has. The fall of communism and the events in post 90-s had a negative impact in the city: many demographical changes, and lack of funds and projects are putting the city and its cultural values in danger.
The Old Bazaar and the Fortress are two of the most distinguished sites in town and can be seen as the main poles from which the revitalization of the city can begin. The Fortress, extending on a rocky hill, is the biggest and one of the oldest constructions in Gjirokastër. Due to its superior position relative to the other parts with an elevation of about 370 meters serves as an important landmark that divides the city into two parts.
The hill where the fortress is located may be prone to several geotechnical hazards like erosion, instability and rock falling due to natural factors including winds, water and earthquake. Studies show that the seismic activity of the area varies from 5.5- 6.5 in Richter scale. This
is further compounded by factors related to the unplanned development and interventions in the nearby area which affect the initial stability of the slope. Since the fortress is one of the most representative sites of the city and can be considered a main pole of accessibility, it is vital to preserve and protect it from potential hazards that affect the structural stability. By using relevant literature related to geotechnical hazards, hazards assessment and mitigation, empirical geotechnical data together with computational modelling, this paper makes estimates the potential hazards of the rocky slope where the fortress is located and the consequent effects in the fortress itself. Based on the results provided by the analysis regarding the potential and mechanism of failure, different stabilization methods can be proposed to prevent further problems that can greatly affect the fortress and the nearby area.
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