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Vlora is one of the largest and most populous cities in Albania. It is 130 km from the capital, 120 km from Mother Teresa International Airport, and is home to the second largest port in Albania. Vlora is rich in history and antiquity. This historic city dates back to the 6th century B.C., when it was known as Aulona. Fragments of the massive wall surrounding Aulona have been found in the center of the city, close to Sheshi i Flamurit (Flag Square). In 1081, the city fell under Norman dominion. In the 14th century it was part of the Kingdom of Arbëria, ruled by the Balshaj, Albanian princes, until 1417 when the city was invaded by the Ottomans. In 1812, the city came under the control of Ali Pashë Tepelena, and one century later, on November 28th, 1912, it became the first capital of an independent Albania, ruled by the government of Ismail Qemali. The most interesting sights in Vlora include the Independence Museum (in the headquarters building of the first government), the History Museum, and the Ethnographic Museum. Among the religious objects in Vlora, the most important is the Mosque of Muradie, built in 1542 by the chief architect of the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinan, who was originally from the region.(He was born in Agirnas district of Kayseri- Turkey). He is the constructor of the famous Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul and is also known for his work in other cities in Turkey such as Edirne (for the Selymie Mosque), Erzurum, and many others. Also, a prominent hill above the city is home to the Bektashi Tekke of Kuzum Babai. The site offers an amazing view of the city of Vlora, the peninsula of Karaburun, the island of Sazan, and the lagoon of Narta. There are also several interesting clubs and restaurants in the city of Vlora.
Amantia was the historical capital of the Illyrian tribe of Amanties, founded around the 5th century BCE. Its present location is near the village of Plloça in the river valley of Vlora. At its peak, Amantia featured an acropolis and a Doric style temple dedicated to Aphrodite. The most notable archeological object among the preserved features is the stadium, measuring 60 x 12.5 meters. A significant sculptural object is the bas-relief of the God of Fertility, which can be seen at the National Historic Museum. Additional relics from Amantia are on display at the Archaeological Museum.
Finiq (Phoenice) is located near the modern city of Saranda and is about 20 km north of Butrint Lake and the Albanian border with Greece. During antiquity the territory surrounding the settlement belonged to Chaonia, part of the Epirus kingdom. The site is rich in findings from the Classical to the Byzantine period. Ancient sources mentioned the wealth of the city, especially during the Hellenistic period, between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, when Finiq was a prominent city in the Epirote League. The city of Finiq hosted the historically significant signing of the treaty ending the first Macedonian War. This document took the name of “The Peace of Phoenice.” The city’s prosperity continued throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods. The Ottoman occupation appears to have caused the shrinking of the city of Finiq. Phoenice boasts several archaeologically important relics, including a small prostylos temple, a theater, exemplars of Hellenistic houses, and several Roman water cisterns.This picturesque site also contains an important Byzantine church.
Behind the Independence Monument Square in Vlora, the excavated remains of a rectangular castle are visible. The castle comprised a portion of the ancient city of Aulona and was built in the 4th century CE to withstand Gothic invasions. Other finds in the area indicate that it was first settled during the 4th century BCE. The most famous find from this period is a sculpture known as “the aulonian girl”, depicting a girl wearing an Illyrian dress. Historical sources mention Aulona in the 2nd century CE, in relation to Roman efforts to improve roads in this part of the western Balkans. In various itineraries, Aulon is mentioned as a principal stopping place on the main road from Dyrrachium to Butrint. Following the Gothic invasions of the 5th century CE, an archdiocese was established inside the castle. During the reign of Justinian, the castle was further fortified by his direct orders. Late in the 6th century CE, Slavs invaded the city, causing widespread damage and an evacuation by many citizens to the island of Sazan, where traces of this settlement have been discovered. The city might have never regained its status, appearing to have diminished significantly in size and importance. Aulona is mentioned again in Byzantine documents, around 1100 CE.
Treport: Excavations near the Cape of Treport, located in the lagoon of Narta, have revealed traces of an ancient settlement dating back to the 7th century BCE. Over the centuries, the settlement expanded and a new wall was built around it in the 4th century BCE. Between the 4th and 2nd centuries BCE, the city prospered. The original name of the city is unknown, but according to finds in the area, the indicated name is Daulia. The city was mysteriously abandoned after the 2nd century BCE, but this might have been related to the Illyrian-Roman wars.
Orikum (Orikos) is located in southwest Albania, about 40 km south of the archaeological site of Apollonia. According to Pliny, colonists from Colchis established the city of Orikum. Its geographical position made it an important harbor and a trading center on the Adriatic coast. Orikum was important to military strategists as well. It was used by the Romans as a defensive base in the wars against the Illyrians as well as in the 3rd century BCE against the Macedonians, who later occupied it in 214 BCE. Julius Caesar used the area as a troop encampment for several months until Pompeius Magnus took them. Being subject to such varied cultural influences, Orikum became a thriving urban center. This is evident by various archaeological ruins, such as part of an orchestra platform and a small theater with the capacity to hold 400 spectators. Additionally, ruins of protective walls and streets are visible lying underwater in a lagoon. The emperor Theodore commissioned the nearby Marmiroi Church, of Byzantine origin, in the 13th century CE. It has a small 6m x 9m main hall and a dome approximately 3m in diameter that is supported by four Roman arches. Its internal walls feature fragments of murals that reflect various aspects of Byzantine culture. The church has three entrances and is renowned for its elaborate construction and architectural significance. Today Orikum is an important city, which has been part of many regional development programs and has seen a distinct increase in the tourism sector. This is a result of its proximity to the Adriatic Sea and its relative position to other nearby cities.
Onchesmos (Saranda) is the name of the ancient town derived from Anchises, the Trojan warrior whose mythological union with the goddess Aphrodite resulted in a son named Aeneas. Aeneas, along with his father and his son, Ascanius, escaped the sacking of Troy, and journeyed throughout the Mediterranean. Dionysos of Halicarnassus calls Onchesmos the Harbor of Anchises, and the Byzantine historian, Procopius, mentions that Anchises died at Onchesmos. During the 6th century CE, the town’s name changed to Hagia Saranda or “Forty Saints”. The circumstances of this name change are unclear, but might be related to the construction of a great basilica overlooking the modern city of Saranda. Various monuments and archaeological finds of the city have been excavated. Among the more impressive finds are the ruins of a synagogue, a portion of a Roman imperial archway, and the ruins of a late antiquity house. Also noteworthy are an apsidal building, an odeon, a cemetery, and an elaborate mosaic widely known as the Dolphin Pavement.
The Monastery of Saint Nicolas in Mesopotam is a beautiful monument located in the village of Mesopotam, not far from the touristic city of Saranda. It is quite accessibile thanks to its location on the national road linking Saranda with Gjirokastra. It is a Byzantine church, reconstructed two times in the years 1793 and 1843 CE. The main characteristic of the monastery is its distinctive defense features. The fortified wall surrounding the monastery includes rectangular towers. As it is also near the National Park of Butrint, it attracts numerous visitors.
Muradie Mosque is located in the very heart of the city of Vlora. It is a sultan style mosque, with a dome built in the second half of the 16th century CE. It consists of a prayer hall and a minaret built of carved stone. This monument has a harmonious distribution of its windows. Mimar Sinan Aga the Great, an architect of Albanian origin who was one of the most important mosque builders in the Ottoman Empire, carried out the design and construction of this mosque. It is supposed that he was born in the village of Gjergaj (modern day Sinanaj) in the region of Tepelena, southern Albania. He is considered the greatest architect of the classical period of Ottoman architecture, often compared to Michelangelo. Muradie Mosque is the only structure that has remained from this master in Albania.
The Fortified Settlement of Karos is located near the village of Qeparo, along the Qeparo River. The location was clearly chosen for its natural defenses, as the fortress is situated atop a hill. Approachers from virtually any direction would face a difficult climb up a rocky slope. The original defensive walls apparently had only one entrance. The present state of the walls is a mere shadow of what it used to be, but it still extends for 350 m and is approximately 3 m thick. It varies in height, but reaches a maximum of 1.5 m in its ruined state. Two structures behind the entrance gate would have provided additional barriers for attackers and suggests just how heavily fortified this location once was. Origins of the settlement are unknown, but artifacts unearthed during the archaeological dig represent a wide range of inhabitants from the Early Iron Age to the 4th century C.E.
The region of Vlora is very rich with other sites. We should mention a number of orthodox churches along the Albanian Riviera, including the Chuch of Saint Mary of Mesodhia (1783 CE) and the Church of Saint Spiridhoni (1778CE) in Vuno, the Chuch of Ipapandia in Dhërmi, the Church of Saint Mary of Athali in Himara and the traditional houses of Odise Kasneci in Vuno and Lilo LLazari in Himara.
Other monuments in the district of Vlora include the Church of Marmiroi (13th century CE) close to Orikum, the towers of Dervish Aliu in the village of Dukat, the Castle of Kanina and the Gjon Boçari Castle in the village of Tragjas. In the district of Saranda, you may also visit the ruins of the Monastery of the 40 Saints (close to Saranda), the Lëkursi Castle (2 km south of Saranda) and the small castle at the entrance of the Vivari channel near Burtint.
As regards museums in the city of Vlora, you may visit the Museum of Independence, the Ethnographic Museum and the Historic Museum.

Apollonia: Cicero, the famed Roman orator, was captivated by the beauty of Apollonia, and in his “Philippics”, referred to it as “magna urbs et gravis,” or “the great and important city.” The ancient city, founded in the 7th century BCE by Greek settlers from Corinth and Corcyra, is located 11 km west of the modern city of Fier. A French mission lead by Prof. Leon Rey discovered Apollonia. Archaeological excavations have shown that Apollonia reached its zenith during the 4th – 3rd century BCE.
Studies estimate that around 60,000 inhabitants lived inside the city gates. The city has a 4 km long wall encircling an area of 137 hectares. Sources depict a flourishing culture with a busy harbor along this active trading route. Among the most interesting remains are the city council building, the library, the triumphal arch and the temple of Artemis.
The odeon, from the 2nd century BCE, is also noteworthy, as it once accommodated approximately 10,000 spectators. There is also a spectacular 77 m long stoa with a covered walkway. An earthquake in the 3rd century CE, in addition to causing damage to infrastructure, altered the path of the Vjosa River and the harbor eventually silted up. This effectively changed the trading route, and the once proud city declined until it was nearly uninhabited. Apollonia was “rediscovered” in the 18th century CE, and archaeological efforts have continued intermittently throughout the 20th century CE. Today the site is easily accessible from the nearby city of Fier and it offers both unique views of the Adriatic coastline and numerous historical and archaeological items of great interest to visitors.
Byllis, established in the 3rd century BCE, once flourished as a political, economic and cultural center in the region. Being governed by a body of civil servants, the introduction of a bronze currency system and a reputation for having skilled artisans were the hallmarks of this powerful society. The surrounding wall of Byllis is very well preserved, measuring 2,250 m long, 3.5 m wide and 8 – 9 m high. It surrounds an area of 30 hectare and has a triangular shape. The theater built in the middle of the 3rd century BCE is located in the southeast corner of the agora. The theater exhibits several unique features including a sculpture display area. It was an immense construction with the ability to accommodate an estimated 7,500 spectators. Interestingly, historians believe that the design of the individual steps would allow for standing room only.
The adjacent stoa, measuring 60 x 11.4 m, remains partially preserved. The basilica located in the site measures an impressive 33 x 22.8 m. Inside are many beautiful examples of mosaics depicting a variety of subjects. To the south of the basilica lies the remains of a school, which dates back to the 3rd century BCE. This area features a series of alcoves and the rectangular footprint of the original building. The cathedral is perhaps the most impressive area within Byllis. It consists of the basilica, the baptistery and the diocese complex. The cathedral underwent several reconstructions, first in 470 CE and again in 547 CE. After each reconstruction, the cathedral increased in size. The basilica of the cathedral exhibits a much more elaborate configuration than the other basilica in Byllis. The threshold leading to the entryway is made with an extensive mosaic. Notably, it is the largest mosaic discovered in Albania to date. It displays diverse motifs and scenes reflecting the daily life of shepherds, anglers and others. The walls of this cathedral had beautiful frescoes at the time, and several depicting geometrical shapes remain.
Gurëzeza is located near the modern town of Cakran, dominating the plain of Vjosa and offering visotors a view which extends to the Karaburun peninsula and the island of Sazan in the bay of Vlora.
The partially preserved walls cover an expansive area of over 15 hectares. Settlements of the site appear divided into three distinct phases: the Protourban, Urban and Late Antiquity periods. Several important coin hoards were found in the vicinity of this site, one with about 2,000 bronze coins from Apollonia and Epirus. 200 silver coins were included in this find, forty of which belonged to the Illyrian king Monunios. Based on this find, some archaeologists and historians speculate that this may have been Monunio’s actual residence. In the town of Ballsh you may also visit the Basilica of Ballsh.
Nikaia (Klos) is an ancient city located southeast of the modern city of Fier, near Byllis. The city features a protective wall that is notable for its length, 1850 meters, dating back to 425 BCE. The use of polygonal and trapezoidal blocks for its construction is typcial. Three defensive towers guarded the single entrance to the city. Among the most important archaeological finds are a small theater, a stoa and the ruins of a stadium. The theater had a capacity of approximately 900 spectators. There are even inscriptions preserved on one of the theater walls granting citizenship to several individuals. They date back to the 3rd century BCE. The stoa (covered walkway) is partially excavated and measures 10 x 40 m. Life in Nikaia came to an abrupt end in 167 BCE when the invading armies of Paulus Aemilus ravaged the region.
The Monastery of Ardenica is a Byzantine structure occupying a surface area of about 2,500 m . This monument consists of the Saint Mary Church, the Saint Triad chapel, the konake, the oil mill, the oven and the stall. In the center is situated the Church of St. Mary, partly built with pumice stones brought from Apollonia. It occupies a large area, covered by a wooden roof and a flat ceiling. The church is composed of a naos, a narthex and a two-story exonarex, which at the one end connects with the 24 meter tall bell tower. At the southern part of the complex is an open portico built with columns and cantilevers. The naos is made of three parts, each of them divided in two lines by wooden columns. An iconostasis divides the naos from the altar. The church floor is paved with stone tiles, as are the narthex and exo-narthex. In 1743 CE, with the initiative of Berat’s bishop, Metod, the monastery, including Saint Mary’s Church, underwent restoration. The Saint Triad chapel lies at the northwest part and its dimensions are 7.5 x 3.7 m. Its entrance is situated to the west, and it has two small windows on its southern facade.
This chapel was built with pumice stones and its semicircular wall divides it from a rainwater collection tank. A stone cantilever covers the chapel’s portal. Near the eastern window is a ceramic basso relief.
The Monastery of Saint Mary in Pojan is located within the complex of the Apollonia Archaeological Park. It was built in the 13th century CE. By the end of antiquity, Apollonia was largely depopulated, hosting a small Christian community that built this monastery on a hill, probably the site of the old city. Byzantine Emperor Andronicus Paleologus the Second reconstructed it. The chapel was built in the Byzantine style. The Monastery of Saint Mary is one of the most beautiful structures of this kind in Albania.
In the region of Myzeqe you may also visit several churches in the villages of Kolkondas, Karavasta, Vanaj, Libofsha, Hoxhare, Krutje and Kadipashaj.

The Tumuli Burials of Kamenica are located in the southern part of Korça, along the national road linking Korça with Erseka. This is one of the most important monuments, representative of Albanian prehistory. Visitingthe site, you will have the chance to be acquainted with prehistoric community life from the 13th – 6th centuries BCE.
The basilica, where the mosaics can be found, is located in the village of Lin, 22 km north of Pogradec. They date back to the 6th century CE and have different motives, including floral and geometrical. They are similar to other mosaics found in Durrës.
The Monumental Tombs of “Selca e Poshtëme” (Lower Selca) are 2,400 years old, located 40 km from the modern city of Pogradec. Selca was a town founded by the Illyrian tribe of Desartes in the 6th century BCE. It is thought that Pelion was the residence of the Illyrian king, Klit, located in Selca. The settlement reached its greatest prominence in the 3rd – 4th centuries BCE, when its protective surrounding walls encircled an area of 3 hectares. Five monumental tombs in Ionic style have been excavated from this archaeological site. Four of the carved tombs are located inside tunnels. Although examples of these types of tombs can be found throughout southern Italy, few are known to exist in the Balkans. It is suspected that vast treasures were buried inside the tombs.
Goliku Bridge is a medieval bridge with a hunch, or hump, upon the main cantilever. It lifts up on two circled vaults divided by a discharger window. Along the causeway the bridge has a length of 37 meters, and the vault’s width is 2.8 meters. The large vault has a light area of 7.4 meters, 9.4 meters from the water, and a width of 90 centimeters.
At the big vault’s end are 20×20 centimeter holes for gripping the crib’s balk. The right vault has an opening of 6.3 meters and a thickness of 75 centimeters. The discharger window has an opening of 1.2 meters wide by 3 meters high. The causeway was made with river stones, with brace girdles every 1.2 meters, and it has a right incline of 16% and a left incline of 11%. The vaults were made with scale stone and the front walls of lime and stuff stones.
The Ristozi Church of Mbroje in Korça is defined and framed by the naos, a porch that lies in the western and southern parts. The church structure is an inscribed crosstype. In the eastern wall, we find the semicircular Abside, with an arched Nike. Two other Nikes, reaching the ground, are in the southern and northern walls. The church has two entrance portals, one in the southern part and the other in the eastern part.
At the junction point of the cross beams, an equiangular tumbler lifts up on a podium. According to the building techniques and its form, studies suggest that the church was likely built during the 14th century CE.
The Churches of Voskopoja are in a small mountain village perched at a height of 1200 meters above sea level, 21 km west of Korça. It was once a very prominent city along the “Egnatia Road,” reaching its height in the middle of the 18th century CE with 24 churches and monasteries. Only seven ofthese twenty four churches remain today.
The Church of Saint Michael (Shën Mëhilli) was painted 1726 in by the Zoografi brothers.
The Church of Saint Athanas (Shën Thanasi), together with the cemetery, are from 1724 CE. The church was built by five masters from Kastoria. The Church of Saint Ilias (Shën Ilia) and the Church of Saint Mary (Shën Mëria) are from 1722 CE.
Vithkuqi is a mountain village in the district of Korça, 26 km southwest of the city. In the 17th century CE, Vithkuqi was an important urban center with 27 churches.
In the region of Korça there are also a number of old churches in the villages of Boboshtica, Shipska (17th century CE), on the island of Maligradi in Lake Prespa, the Eremite Churches on the coast of Lake Prespa and the Church of Saint Nicolas in the village of Vodica (1799 CE) in the region of Kolonja.
The site is well known for the churches of Saint Michael (Shën Mëhillit) (18th century CE) together with the cemetery, Saint Peter’s Church (Shën Pjetri) and Saint Paul’s Church (Shën Pavlli). The famous Zoografi brothers painted the frescoes of the churches of Saint Michael and Saint Peter.
In the city of Korça there are also several museums. You may pay a visit to the Prehistoric Museum, the Museum of Education, the Museum of Medieval Arts, the Museum House of Vangjush Mio (a notable painter) and the Museum of Oriental Art Collection, Bratko. In the city of Korça you may also visit the Mosque of Ilias Bey Mirahori, the oldest monument in the city.

The Castle of Elbasan is a field castle in the city of Elbasan. Cristobel, the second Mehmet historian, refered to it first. The Ottoman chronicler, Evlia Çelebiu, visited the city in the 18th century CE and described the castle in detail. During the Austrian invasion, the castle became subject to extensive study. Austrian archaeologist Prashniker and Shcober, who visited the castle during the First World War, noticed that there are ancient fortifications under the medieval walls. The castle has a quadrangular shape with 308 x 48 m dimensions. Today there are only eight towers remaining from the original twenty-six at the begining of its construction. During the late antiquity period, Skampini, the city within the castle, started as a center on the “Egnatia Road,” connecting Rome to Constantinople. Turks reconstructed the castle for strategic purposes. The castle is still inhabited today, and important Muslim and Christian religious objects can be found within.

The Monastery of Saint John Vladimir (Shën Gjon Vladimiri) in Shijon is located only 4 km away from Elbasan. It was built in 1381 CE by the Albanian prince, Karl Topia, who brought the remains of Saint John Vladimir. Saint John Vladimir was the Duke of Krajina (Montenegro). He was declared a Saint and is well know in the Balkan Peninsula. A large pilgrimage was organized in his honor at this monastery until 1967 CE, when the communist regime forcibly closed religious institutions all over the country. Nowadays this pilgrimage is organized every 3-4 June. The monastery, with its rich library, was a very important cultural center for Albanians. Unfortunately, Nazi Forces burned a part of the monastery during the Second World War. The monumental gate of the monastery, carved from stone, is currently being preserved at the National Historic Museum in Tirana.

The Roman Road Station of Ad Quintium is located in Bradashesh village, in the vicinity of the modern city of Elbasan. Based on the construction techniques used, the site has been dated back to the 2nd – 4th centuries CE. Excavations are ongoing.

In Elbasan you may also visit the Ethnographic Museum of Elbasan, the Peqini Castle (15th century CE), the Church of Good Friday (Shën e Premtes) in Valësh and the Church of Saint Nicolas (18th century CE) in Grabova, district of Gramsh.

The Church of Saint Nicolas in Shelcan (Kisha e Shën Nikollës) is located in the village of Shelcan in the distict of Shpati, southeast of Elbasan. Inside the church there are valuable frescoes painted by Onufri, a famous Albanian painter from the 16th century CE.

Tirana, the heart and capital of Albania, like all other European metropolises has a never-ending movement and energy. With its clubs, pubs, cafes, and taverns, Tirana is worth to discover, both day and night. The value and hospitality shown towards tourists is something that will mark your journey not only in Tirana but also all over the country.

There are different thoughts regarding the origin of the name of the city. Some think that it relates to Tyrrenia (a name of Etruscan origins), while other believe that it relates to the word Theranda (harvest), or to the Tirkan (a castle at the foot of Mount Dajti).

Your own journey might begin by visiting the museums and the key spots such as Sheshi Skënderbej, where you will be able to see the Mosque of Et’hem Bey (built between 1798 and 1812) and the 35 m high Kulla e Sahatit (the Watch Tower), built in 1822 with a San Marco style cupola. Moreover, you can visit the famous Mosaic uncovered on the floor of an old Roman lodge. Its center configures the walls of the castle of the Roman emperor Justinian (A.D. 520). The monumental Tomb of Kapllan Pasha and the Ura e Tabakëve (a bridge constructed in the beginning of the 19th century, located on Bulevardi Zhan D’Ark) are other interesting place to visit.

As a capital, Tirana has the country’s finest museums, theatres, and galleries representing the national arts. A visit to the National History Museum, the Archeological Museum, the private “Mezuraj Museum,” and the National Gallery of the Arts will leave wonderful memories. You can also pass a pleasant evening in the National Theatre or the Opera and Ballet Theatre. For dining, Tirana will be glad to offer you both a rich traditional cuisine and a variety of foreign fares, from Italian to Chinese, . There are also several clubs and restaurants in Mount Dajti to discover and enjoy. There is the possibility to travel there by cable car, which is a very special experience. In the region of Tirana you may also visit the castles of Petrela and Preza, as well as some natural attractions, such as Pëllumbasi Cave, Shkalla e Tujanit, and much more.

The Përsqop Fortress is located south of Tirana, near Petrela Castle. The inhabitants of Petrela Castle once used this fortress perched atop the Vila Mountain.

The Illyrians constructed the basic structure and then eventually the Romans expanded it. Remnants of an aqueduct are still visible to the northeast of the fortification.

The Tirana Mosaic can be found on “Naim Frashëri” street. It is the oldest object found in Tirana, and the archaeologists think that it was part of the floor of a Roman villa from the 3rd century CE. The place was later used as a site for the construction of an early-Christian church. It is also known by the name “The Mosaic of the Church of Saint George’s Spring.”

The Tunners Bridge (Ura e Tabakeve) is a small stone bridge, 7.5 meters high, located on “Jeanne d’Arc” Boulevard in Tirana. It was also called “Saint George’s Bridge.” Today it is a restored monument, originally built in The National Gallery of Fine Arts the first half of 19th century CE.

In Tirana, you will have the opportunity to visit the largest and the most important museums in Albania: the National Historic Museum and the Archaeological Museum, the Mosque of Ethem Bey and the newly excavated walls of the Justinian Castle. In the region of Kavaja you may also visit the Ethnographic Museum of Kavaja and the Church of Çeta near the village of Zig Xhafaj.

Kapllan Pasha’s Tomb is located on “28 Nëntori” street in Tirana. It is part of a monumental cemetery complex of the first Tirana Mosque, which was destroyed during the Second World War. The complex included six other monumental graves of the same type, but with varying dimensions. The only tomb remaining today is that of Kapllan Pasha, a former ruler of Tirana. The tomb has an octagonal shape reaching 4 meters in height. Kapllan Pasha’s remains were later exhumed and reburied in Istanbul.

Preza Castle overlooks the village with the the same name and is located on a hilltop. It is a small castle, the construction of which was started in the 14th century CE and was completed in the early 15th century CE. It belonged to the Topias, a local feudal family. It has four towers, one in each corner. The clock tower was erected between 1800-1850 CE. People appreciate it for its location, with a view overlooking the plain of Tirana. The castle is quite close to the “Mother Theresa” International Airport. A restaurant and other service facilities are located inside the castle.

Bashtova Castle is situated close to the village of Bashtova, about 3-4 km north of the Shkumbini River estuary. The castle was built in the 15th century CE and was used by the Venetians. In the past, the Bashtova region was known as a harbor on the Shkumbini River and as a center for the export of cereal grains. The castle has a rectangular shape, 60 x 90 meters, with 9 meter high walls. The western part of the castle was rebuilt in the 18th century CE.

The earliest historical reference to the city of Durrës is from 627 BCE. The modern city is built on the top of the ruins of the ancient Epidamnos, or Dyrrachion, which became known as Dyrrachium in the Roman period. According to Thucydides, Corcyreans and Corinthians named the city Epidamnos after colonizing it. The founder was Phalius, from Corinth and a descendant of Heracles. The earliest coins of Epidamnos, dating back from the first half of the 5th century BCE, were marked with symbols of Corinthian origin. Another account, by the historian Apian, indicates that a non-Greek king named Epidamnos lived in the area before the Greeks arrived. He built the first city and named it after himself. Dyrrhachos was his grandson and the city was later named after him.
Epidamnos was involved in the Peloponnesian War, and following the war the name was changed to Dyrrachium. The war led to many political and architectural changes in the city. Trade with the Illyrians flourished during the ensuing years. Many Illyrian tombs were discovered in the city cemeteries, indicating that this period was characterized by significant cultural exchange and that people were traveling freely between the regions.
Dyrrachium was the battlefield between the legions of Caesar and Pompey during the Civil War of 49 – 48 BCE. The city sustained damages as a result. In the year 30 BCE, Dyrrachium became a Roman colony and was named Colonia Iulia Augusta Dyrrachinorum.

Most of the excavations began in the 1960s, and most of them are ongoing, allowing observers a rare opportunity to view an archaeological excavation in progress. One of the most interesting finds in the city is the “Bukuroshja e Durrësit” (Pretty Women of Durrës) mosaic, housed in the National Historic Museum in Tirana. The mosaic dates back to the 4th century BCE, surviving as a wonderful artifact from this period. In the 9th century CE, the city entered into a turbulent period.  
During the 2nd century CE, the city’s status as a major trade center was further enhanced by the construction of the “Via Egnatia”, a roadway linking the Adriatic with Thessalonica and then on to Constantinople. The largest of all public buildings constructed in Dyrrachium during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE is the amphitheater, with an estimated capacity of 15,000 – 20,000 people, situated near the center of the modern city. Other important archaeological finds are the public baths dating back from the 2nd century CE, the remains of a 15 km long aqueduct built during the reign of Hadrian, the Byzantine era walls and the round forum-macellum built in the 5th – 6th centuries CE. Normans attacked the city in 1071 CE, and then in 1081 CE subsequent attacks by the Venetians, and later the Ottomans, threatened the city’s very existence. In the city of Durrës you may also visit the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museums.

Early Christian Basilica of Shën Mëhill (Saint Michael) in Arapaj: The ruins of the St. Michael Basilica (Bazilika e Shën Mëhillit) were discovered during an archaeological expedition in 1974 CE, which took place 6 kmaway from the modern city of Durrës. The church is notable for its architectural style, which features three naves, an atrium on the west side and an impressive mosaic covering a surface area of 54 m². The mosaic is almost intact and survives in a surprisingly good condition. Not far from the area, some sculptural objects dating back to the 5th – 6th centuries CE were also discovered. Many unearthed coins found around the area indicate that the settlement was in use from the 5th – 14th centuries CE. In 1081 CE, the Byzantine soldiers fleeing from the Norman invasion sought refuge in the church, and it was thus later burned to the ground by the invaders.
The Bazaar of Kruja has been protected since 1961 CE, preserving the rich characteristics of traditional Albanian markets of the 18th – 19th centuries CE. The market of Kruja covers a wide area, stretching from the center of the city to the western gate of the castle. The cobblestone street is lined with a variety of small shops displaying a range of products for sale, as well as artisans working in their studios. The roofs are made of wood, covered with tiling to protect both the shoppers and the products on display. Nowadays the original wooden facades of the market of Kruja are very well preserved. The market is famous for its diversity and for the eldest forms of merchandising, playing a special role in Albanian culture and tradition.
The Ethnographic Museum of Kruja is one of the most visited museums in the country. It is housed inside the walls of Kruja Castle and is known as one of the most organized museums of Albania. It opened in 1989 in a traditional house of the noble Toptani family, originally built in 1794. The construction is classified as a “first class building.” It is a large, two story house with 15 rooms, a garden and a water well. 90 percent of the objects displayed in this museum are original, some of them over 500 years old. Here the visitor will have the opportunity to see the guest room, the living room (with a separate section for women), the children’s room, the Turkish bath, the kitchen with its equipment, olive oil processing tools, the smithy and more. Various clothes are also on display, including Catholic and Muslim costumes. Pottery, wood works and silk, cotton and wool clothes are also on show. The Skanderbeg Museum of Kruja, housed inside the castle walls, is also worth a visit. It is dedicated to Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero. In the cape of Rodon you can also visit the Church of Saint Anthony and the ruins of a castle.
The ancient town of Albanopolis is located in the vicinity of the modern town of Kruja. It was thought that the Illyrian castle of Zgërdhesh might actually be the site of the ancient city, Albanopolis, capital of the Albans, from whom the present day country is named. The city was built on a hill and covers an area of approximately 10 hectares. The protective walls, now measuring 90 m and still relatively intact, once stretched 1,400 meters. The large acropolis dominates approximately one third of the area that was once enclosed within the walls. Among the items unearthed at the site is a small marble statue of Artemis which is particularly beautiful. The ancient city flourished for three or four centuries but then was eventually abandoned around the second century CE.

Butrint is undoubtedly one of the most important tourist attractionsin Albania. The Archaeological Park, whichisinscribed in UNESCO, and the National Park of Butrint are located in the southernmost part of the country. Butrint is situated 18 km away from the coastal city of Saranda and lies in the south of Butrint Lake. The Channel of Vivari, which stems from the lake with a length of 3 km, links it with the Ionian Sea. In front of Butrinti you can see the Greek island of Corfu. Butrint has a rather favorable geographic position and is easily accessible by visitors. Many international tourists, who enter Albania through the port of Saranda, visit the ancient city of Burtint.
Butrint is mentioned by the poet Virgil in his poem “Eneida”. According to him, the city was established by the Prince of Troy Aeneas (Enea) during his trip from Troy to Rome. On his way to Rome he stopped in this place and sacrificed
a bull (BUTHROTOS). For the first time it was mentioned by Hekatha (IV century BC). The archaeological site has an area of 15 ha. The ruins of the ancient city are found in the middle of a typical Mediterranean jungle, where you can see the laurels and other tall woods. Due to the high biodiversity of the ecosystem where the ancient city of Butrint is located, the National Park of Butrinti is part of the international convention of RAMSAR (since 2003).
The main objects to visit in Butrint are the theatre, dating back to the IV century BC. It has a capacity of 1,500 viewers. You can also see the Baptiser with a colofrul mosaic, which along with the basilica date back to the VI century AD, the Roman baths of the II century AD, the lion’s gate and the lake, the walls and the Venetian castle of Ali Pasha which date back to the XIV-XVI centuries and were reconstructed in 1930. The Museum of Butrint is also placed there. Among the most notable discoveries found there is a statue discovered by the mission of the Italian archaeologist, Ugolini in 1928.
He named the statue Dea (goddess of Butrint). This statue for many years was exhibited in Italy, but it was brought back in 1981 and has been exhibited for many years at the National Historical Museum in Tirana. The marble statue has been identified by archaeologists as the head of Apollo and it is one of the symbols of antiquity in Albania.
In front of the archaeological site of Burtint, on the other side of the Vivari canal it is situated the triangular fortress, which has served as customs, while at the point where the Vivari canal meets the Ionian Sea you will see the other quadrangular fortress of Ali Pasha, which can be accessed by a floating tool. The area near Burtin is actually an archaeological area rich in monuments. Another interesting site is also the Çuka e Ajtoit, where tourists can go trekking.The National Park of Butrint covers an area of 29 hectares. It consists of a variety of natural habitats, including coastal lagoons, wetland, coast, pastures, rivers and canals. The park is home to a variety of birds, insects, amphibians, mammals and reptiles. There are about 90 species of birds in this park. In winter, thousands of winter birds migrate to the field of Vrina, where the ducks dominate. Regarding the rarest species, the ones that we can mention here is “Epirus water frog” which is found only in this park. The Lake of Burtint is known for growing of mussels, which started in 1968. “Trekking paths” are offered for tourists in the Park. Such paths are Kalivose Itenerary, the Lake of Butrint, the Lake of Bufi, the Mountain of Sotira.

The Museum – City of Gjirokastra is built on the eastern side of Gjere Mountain. Since 2005, part of the UNESCO world heritage, the origin of the city starts with the castle of Gjirokastra, built in IV century. The city was named Argyrokastro, in 1336. In 1417, it was conquered by the Ottoman army. The city reached its peak over 1800-1830, when monumental assembly houses were built. The first neighborhoods are those of Bazaar and Hazmurate.
The main characteristic of Gjirokastra is the intensive use of stone in building the houses, which look like small fortresses, the streets of cobblestone, which all lead to Bazaar. You can also visit the Mosque of Bazaar here, built in 1557. Due to all these features, Gjirokastra is also known as the “The Stone City”. The most important structure of the city is the castle, which is the biggest castle in Albania. Inside the castle, you can visit the Museum of Weapons, opened in 1971. Weapons from the prehistoric times up to the World War II are exhibited on here. The National Folk Festival has taken place in this castle during the years.
During your stay in Gjirokastra, you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, located in the house where the former communist dictator Enver Hoxha was born. This house (today a museum) is located in the Palorto quarter. You can also visit the house of Zekat family in Palorto, in a dominating position, which has undergone restoration. It is one of the most magnificent and characteristic buildings of Gjirokastra. Built in 1811-1812, it is a magnificent three-floor building and has two twin towers. A special feature of the house is the wooden carved ceilings and the characteristic guest room. From the wooden balcony in the third floor, you can enjoy an impressive view of Gjirokastra. In the neighborhood Varosh is situated the home where the prominent contemporary writer Ismail Kadare was born. He has been several times a candidate to win the “Nobel Prize” for literature, and has been honored with other international prizes and awards as the “Legion of Honour” by the French state, “Man Booker International Prize” for 2009, “Prince of Asturias” for arts by the Spanish state. His works have been translated into many foreign languages. His house has been restored and is at the guests disposal.
In the center of the city, in Çerçiz Square is the entrance to “Atomic Bunker”. This is an object that belongs to the Cold War period and was built to provide protection from any possible nuclear attack. In recent years this object has been considered of interest by tourists in Gjirokastra..
The town of Gjirokastra is also known for its culinary art; we can mention special dishes like pasha qofte, shapkat, oshaf with dried figs (a dessert with sheep`s milk, sugar and dried figs), etc. In Gjirokastra you can visit interesting sites, part of the cultural heritage as well as natural wonders.
The archaeological park of Antigone is located near Saraqinishte village in the region of Lunxhëria, east of Gjirokastra. It is 14km away from Gjirokastra. The archeological park has a surface of 92 hectares and was founded by King Pyrrhus of Epirus in 295 B.C., who named the town after his first wife, Antigone. At the end of III century and the beginning of II century BC, it grew into an important economic, cultural and political center and took the form of a state (polis). It was surrounded by walls, 4,000 meters long. There are many attractions to be visited in the archaeological park Antigone such as: the mosaic, columns, promenade, an antique scale, the surrounding walls, etc.
In the village of Labove e Kryqit, located near the small town of Libohova, you can visit one of the oldest and the most beautiful Byzantine churches in Albania, dedicated to St. Mary. It is built in a style similar to that of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It was thought that the church used to have a relic, which is missing now. It was part of the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified.
The ancient theatre of Adrianapol is located near the village of Sofratika, 14 km away from Gjirokastra, along the Gjirokastra – Kakavije (Greece) highway. The Adrianapol amphitheater was discovered by the Austrian archaeologist Prashniker. It dates back to the II century B.C; it has a capacity of 4,000 seats and has 27 stairs.
Cajupi’s field lies in Lunxheria area, which is 1,310 meters above sea level; it is a flat area, which is used as climatic resort and surrounded by many sources of cold water. The road to reach this mountain destination is paved.
ISO – POLYPHONY
Iso-polyphony is an epic form of the oral art of singing in Albania, which has its origin since antiquity. Since November 25, 2005, it is part of the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, protected by UNESCO. It is present today in southern Albania, specifically in the provinces of Gjirokastra, Tepelena, Vlora, reaching its peak on the Ionian coast, Himara and the surrounding villages. In different areas it is sung and has different intonations. Even within the city of Gjirokastra it is sung differently, according to its neighborhoods. A good opportunity to hear such live performances are various cultural activities held in Albania, where we can mention the Folklore Festival of Gjirokastra, which normally takes place every four years.
In addition to this great activity, various iso-polyphony festivals are also organized in the city of Vlora, or even the festival called Bylis Fonia, which takes place in the ancient city of Bylis.

This 2416 years old city, one of the olsdiest cities in Albaia, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is located at a distance of 120 km from the capital city, Tirana. Berat offers a wealth of heritage properties and a variety of religious buildings of the Byzantine, Post-Byzantine and Ottoman period. Since 1961 this city has received the status
of “museum city”. Berat is at the same time famous for its mild climate, its culinary and its wine.
The city’s life began in the VI-V century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later on, in the III century BC, it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea.
In 1336 it was mentioned by name “Antipatrea“.The castle expanded afterwards, particularly during the feudal dominion of the Muzakaj family. Several churches with precious frescoes and icons as well as a calligraphy school were built within the fortress. Uniquely today, residents still live inside of the castle walls. The three major neighborhoods of the old city are Mangalemi, Gorica, and Kala, where the castle itself is located. What draws the visitor’s attention is the famous view of white facades of the houses as well as the numerous windows that are placed one above the other. For this reason, Berat is also known as “the City of the Floating Windows”. The arched bridge of Gorica, built in 1780, is a beautiful architectural monument constructed to link Gorica with Mangelemi.
Berat is famous for religious monuments where a complex of Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments prevail. To be mentioned are St. Michael’s Church (XIII century) and St. Mary of Blachernae Church -, (reconstructed in the XIII-XIV century), Church of St. Trinity (XIV century) and St. Theodore’s Church (XVI). While in the Cathedral of Saint Mary, built in 1797, is located the museum of icons of Onufri (the prominent icon
painter of the XVI century) and his son, Nikolla. In the museum’s premises, an iconostasis with wood carvings is immediately noticeable, which dates back to 1806. There are over 100 icons on display, including not only works by Onufri and his son Nikolla bu also works of other artists such as Joan Cetiri, Konstandin Shpataraku, Onufer Qiprioti, David Selenicasi and many anonymous painters. Besides icons, old objects of religious services are also displayed in this museum.
Another interesting object to visit is the ethnographic museum, which is located in an XVIII century building. This is a typical and interesting two storey building, the first floor being built with stone, while the second is made of wood.
In 1417 Berat was captured by the Ottomans. After this event, Islamic cult objects were also honored in the city, which today attract visitors. Here we can mention the King Mosque, the Mosque of Singles, the Lead Mosque, the ruins of the Red Mosque in the fortress, the ruins of the White Mosque, the Halveti Teqe (XV century) etc. Apart from its architectural and museum values, the city of Berat is a good place to organize trips to the canyons of Osumi (ideal place for water sports such as rafting), for climbing to the Tomorri National Park. For those who love archeology, we recommend visiting the ruins of the ancient city of Dimal, located in Krotine, in the area of Shpiragu. This ancient city was first discovered by the Austrian archeologist Prashniker in 1920. Here are revealed two seals that are named “Dimal”. This city has played a role in the events of South Illyria in the late III – II centuries BC during the Greek –
Roman and Macedonian – Roman wars. The ancient historians Livy and Polybius mention it as a city of political importance. Dimal is also known as the city where the last battle between Illyrian Demeter regiment, lighthouse and Roman corps in 219 BC took place.
Berat is famous for its culinary and wine production, where wine tasting tours are organized by wineries producing wine in this region. (Cobo and Luani wineries). Among the traditional dishes it is worth tasting “përshesh me gjel deti” (Turkey), “çorba e Tomorrit” (Tomorri’s pottage), etc.