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During this period, Gjirokastër developed into a major commercial center known as Argyropolis (Ancient Greek: , meaning "Silver Castle").
The city was part of the Despotate of Epirus and was first mentioned by the name Argyrokastro by John VI Kantakouzenos in 1336.
Alternative spellings found in Western sources are Girokaster and Girokastra.
In Aromanian the city is known as Ljurocastru, while in modern Greek it is known Αργυρόκαστρο (Argyrokastro).
According to the traveller, the city had at that time around 2000 houses, eight mosques, three churches, 280 shops, five fountains, and five inns.
From the 16th century until the early 19th century Gjirokastër went from being a predominantly Christian city to one with a Muslim majority due to much of the urban population converting to Islam alongside an influx of Muslim converts from the surrounding countryside.
It is considered a folk etymology, since the princess is said to have lived later, in the 15th century.
The definite Albanian form of the name of city is Gjirokastra, while in the Gheg Albanian dialect it is known as Gjinokastër, both of which derive from the Greek name.
The name comes from the Medieval Greek ἀργυρόν (argyron), meaning "silver", and κάστρον (kastron), from the Latin castrum meaning "castle" or "fortress", thus "silver castle".During the Albanian Revolt of 1432–36 it was besieged by forces under Thopia Zenevisi, but the rebels were defeated by Ottoman troops led by Turahan Bey In 1570s local nobles Manthos Papagiannis and Panos Kestolikos, discussed as Greek representative of enslaved Greece and Albania with the head of the Holy League, John of Austria and various other European rulers, the possibility of an anti-Ottoman armed struggle, but this initiative was fruitless.According to Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi, who visited the city in 1670, at that time there were 200 houses within the castle, 200 in the Christian eastern neighborhood of Kyçyk Varosh (meaning small neighborhood outside the castle), 150 houses in the Byjyk Varosh (meaning big neighborhood outside the castle), and six additional neighborhoods: Palorto, Vutosh, Dunavat, Manalat, Haxhi Bey, and Memi Bey, extending on eight hills around the castle.Gjirokastër later became the center of the principality ruled by John Zenevisi (1373–1417) before falling under Ottoman rule for the next five centuries.Throughout the Ottoman era Gjirokastër was officially known in Ottoman Turkish as Ergiri and also Ergiri Kasrı.
Archaeologists have found pottery objects of the early Iron Age in Gjirokastër, which first appeared in the late Bronze Age in Pazhok, Elbasan County, and are found throughout Albania.