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The first protection policy over the city was adopted in 1961 when the communist regime
declared Gjirokastra as a museum city under the control of state. When the regime collapsed in
the early nineties, the city suffered from the loss of state protection for several years and
seriously deteriorated during this period. In July 2005, Gjirokastra was added to the UNESCO
World Heritage list and therefore reactivated awareness for the need for protection of the city.
Each of these legal statuses has entailed different policies and vicarious responsibilities for the
protection and conservation of Gjirokastra’s heritage divided up among different stakeholders
such as the international community, the state and local communities. The aim of this paper is to
present the transfer of power that occurred regarding the cultural heritage of Gjirokastra, from
the status of museum city given by the communist regime to the status of UNESCO world
heritage. It will present the development of Gjirokastra first viewed as a national heritage –and a
support of propaganda-, then considered as no one’s heritage at the collapse of the communist
regime, and the way toward being a world cultural heritage; in a legal and political perspective.

Gjirokastra during communist time, around 19783

Hereafter: All the pictures from communist time are extracted from the book: RIZA EMIN, Gjirokastra ville
musée, Institut des monuments culturels, Editions “8 NENTORI”, Tirana, 1978