In March 2013 ended the restoration process of two historic buildings called Babameto 1 and Babameto 2 (both property of Babameto family) of Gjirokastra town. The buildings are part of the multi-functional Center for Culture and Heritage. After restoration of these buildings, Babameto 1 was designed as a hostel, a center for heritage and culture aiming to develop cultural heritage, and Babameto 2 was designed as a handcraft manufactory.
The restoration and revitalization of these residence is the fruit of a three-year program of cooperation of organization for the Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHwB) and Gjirokastra Foundation.
Gjirokastra Foundation, through the creation of the Center for Heritage and Culture “Babameto” aims innovation in the management of cultural heritage in Albania. Innovation is the foundation of social enterprise n the field of tourist services in two historic buildings in the museum city Gjirokastra to generate employment and income for local residents.
The original founders put forth the issue “Why tourism in Gjirokastra needs a multifunctional center?” Hence, they assessed a rapidly increasing number of tourists interested in the historical, architectural, cultural valued of Gjirokastra after its entry in the World Heritage List of UNESCO and, the other hand, hotel and tourist services in the city were quite lacking.
The process of restoration of cultural monument buildings, tied with revitalization was implemented for the first time in Babameto Center in Gjirokastra, launching a model for sustainability of buildings abandoned danger of destruction. This model has values for Gjirokastra and its future as a museum-city of UNESCO. Gjirokastra counts about 600 residences, cultural monument of the first category, 10% of which are ravaged and eventually will be ruined into complete degradation and destruction. The restoration process implemented in previous projects did not solve the problem. The restored objects fall into degradation and destruction without constant repairs. The owners have abandoned these residences for various reasons, mainly economic.
Creating a social enterprise to bridge the demand for the protection of heritage with the need for increased employment and income of the population marks innovation in Albania. The concept of social entrepreneurship is now about 6-7 years part of rhetoric of civil society institutions. So far, there is no legislation and policies to regulate social entrepreneurship.
Babameto center has become a tourist attraction for visitors and culture personalities from Albania and abroad. The best model is the functioning of Babameto Center which in two years is main tourist attraction and symbol of tourism development in Gjirokastra.
Babameto Center is a model to be replicated in the restoration of historic buildings. The functioning of the Centre confirmed the belief of the staff of Babameto Foundation and offered a model for replication not only in Gjirokastra, but also in Berat, Albania next town to UNESCO that carries the same potential and the same problems as Gjirokastra.