Elite Travel DMC

Shore Excursions Albania

Shore Excursions Albania, offer superb services in Albanian ports through custom designed programs for cruise ship clients & for all cruise companies brands

We offer superb service shore excursions through custom designed programs for cruise ship clients. In this last years we have improved our services, programs and facilities and our offer includes numerous shore excursions created especially for this demanding clientele who want to experience Albania from the Greek island of Corfu or from the Mediterranean cruiser, Elite travel has one day tour, visiting the major attractions in Durres, Saranda, Vlora and Shengjin ports.
We have at our disposal more than 15-20 available excursion for every port in Albania, if you write us we will come to you immediately with complete offer and information…

For further information on exclusive shore excursions please contact us on shorexcursionalbania@elitetravel-albania.com

 

  • Durres shore excursions, attractions and activities

    Durres formerly Durrazzio is an ancient city founded in 627 B.C. The legend says:” It was founded by Epidamnos, the Illyrian king of the area, who called it by his own name and named the port area after his grandson – Dyrrah”.
    In 1627 B.C. Greeks from Corfu and Corinth invaded the area and celled the area Dyrrachium. In the 4th century B.C. Durrachium had become an independent city – state, producing metalwork, pottery, fabrics, leather and shops and its coins were circulating throughout the ancient world. The Illyrians after establishing their own state, tried to place Durres under their own dependence. In this struggle, victory favored the state of Taulantes. The Illyrian king Monumes, minted coins in Durres, with his own name in them and made Durres, the Centre of his own state.
    In 229 B.C. Durres was taken by Rome and under Roman rule, the town was called Dyrra – chium, which became starting point of the “Via Egnatia”, linking Rome with the East. If you want to follow via Egnatia from Durres, simply take the road via Kavaja, Elbasan, Qukes to Ohrid.
    The famous Roman orator, Cicero called Durres “an admirable city….”, while the poet Catullus called it “the Tavern of the Adriatic”.
    In 1914-1920 Durres became the capital of Albania.

    What to visit
    • The Fortress of the City. The remains of the walls belong to the 5th – 6th centuries, the addition from 13th – 14th Centuries. Ana Comnena, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor, Alexis Comnenius, describing the fortress, writes: “its walls were so thick that 4 horsemen could ride abreast on top of them”. Wars and earthquakes destroyed the fortress.
    • The Amphitheatre is one of the biggest and most exquisite monuments that have survived from the ancient city. It is the largest in the Balkan Peninsula, built in the 2nd century A.D., with a capacity about 20.000 spectators.
    • The Beauty of Durres is the most polychromatic mosaic in the country. You may see it in the national historical museum in Tirana.
    Roman Thermal baths were discovered in 1962.
    • The Archeological Museum situated near the sea, is rich in objects excavated in Durres. It gives a view on the ancient Dyrrachium.
    • The Fatih Mosque and the Vollga square near the port of Durres is another interest place.

    Tirana
    Capital of the Republic of Albania, with a population of just over 700.000, lies at the foot of Dajti Mountain (1612 m) at the 110 m above the sea level. The region of Tirana has been inhabited since the Neolithic period.(The ruins of a castle of the 1st century AD were discovered at the foot of the mountain.
    Tirana was founded in 1614 when, under the care of Sulejman Pasha Mulleti, the first settlement was built.
    It consisted of a mosque, bath-house (Hamam), a bakery and some shops. By the middle of the 17th century, Tirana began to develop as a major market-town, together with handicraft shops specializing is silk, cotton cloth, leather, ceramics, metals and silvers. The Albanian Government which emerged from the Congress of Lushnja, was seated in Tirana on February 8, 1920. Thereafter Tirana became the capital of the country. In 1920 the population of Tirana was around 17.000 inhabitants.
    In the early 1930`s a town-planning was started by the ex Albanian King Ahmet Zogu. The existing ministries and the municipality building, as well as Skenderbeg square, date back to that period. Today Tirana is the main administrative, economical, art and culture centre.

    What to visit
    • The Main Boulevard “Deshmoret e Kombit”. (A foreing when visit Tirana at 1930 said: I have seen capital without boulevard, but I have ever seen Boulevard without capital.
    • The Scanderbeg memorial, the Scanderbeg square, Ethem Beu Mosque (1789), the Clock Tower 35 m high (1830) and National Museum.
    • The complex of Albanian ministry and Rinia Park.
    • The Pyramid, International Culture Centre (Ex Museum of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha).
    • The ex communist residence in the centre of the city before 1989 was only for the Albanian leaders, today the Tirana downtown with restaurants, bars, business centers etc. (House of ex Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha).
    Mother Teresa square, the Congress Palace, University of Tirana and National Park.
    • The bound of Lana river that passed in the middle of the capital, Tanners Bridge (Ura e Tabakeve), Parliament Building(1924) and The Holy Tomb of Kaplan Pasha.
    • The Kavaja and Durresi streets, the Orthodox Church (1780), The Catholic Church of St.Marie(1865).

    Other interest site
    • Only 25 km from Tirana center is located National Park of Dajti on the Dajti Mountain, a natural park rich in diversity of trees and plants. Now is a peaceful place almost during the summer with many bars and restaurants.
    • One of the most interesting places to see around Tirana is Petrela village (12km). Petrela is known as a dwelling place as early as back 2000 years ago in the ruins of Illyrian town of Persqopi. In that time the town is supposed to be used as a residential place of Galukia, one of the Illyrian Kings. The most interesting object is the mediavel Castle which dates back to the 4th century B.C. rising on a rocky hill. Its current architecture is the 13th century, during the domination of Topia tribe and later on became the property of the Kastriot family. In this castle was married Mamica Kastrioti the Scanderbeg sister. The Ballaban Pasha Sulltan was killed from Scanderbeg forces during the Ottoman invasions in the Ballkan Peninsula. The area around Petrela offers unique landscape of broken hills covered by olive trees.
    • In south-east direction from Tirana (18 km) there is also a carstic cave, called Shpella e zeze (Black cave) or Shpella e Pellumbit.

    Kruja
    The famous English painter, Edward Lear (1812 – 1888), who visited Kruje in 1848 wrote:
    “Kruje, a charming little town all up in the sky”.
    The historical town of Kruja is situated north – East of Tirana, 560m above sea level on the slopes of Sari – Salltiku Mountain.
    Kruja has been inhabited since the 3-th century B.C. It was mentioned for the first time as a Christian religious center in the year 879.
    Kruja became the capital of the first Albanian principality of Arberia, known for its trade and handicrafts.
    The name of Kruja is related with the name of Gjergj Kastriot Scanderbeg, who fought heroically against the Ottoman invasion. The youngest of Gjon Kastrioti’s four sons, Gjergj, was sent with his three brothers as hostage to Sultan at Constantinople in 1415. He became famous at the military school and he was given the Islamic name “Iksander” (Albanian – Skender) and the title “begs” for valor on the battlefield. In 1443, he suddenly left the Ottoman army fighting Hynyadi, the Hungarian hero, and returned to Albania, where on the 28-th of November, 1443, with an army of 300 horsemen raised the Albanian flag in Kruja.
    During the 15-th century, Scanderbeg played a great role for the liberation of the country. According to the sources of the Albanian historians, Scanderbeg fought 25 battles (one battle in a year) and lost only two.

    What to visit
    • The fortress was built in the 5-th and 6-th centuries A.D. The main entrance of the castle is situated on the northeast. Near the Tower stands the Mosque (formerly a Christian church) while the remains have also been excavated of a Christian Church with mural paintings. To the west of the fortress is situated a 15-th century hamam (Turkish bath) and the former Bektashi monastery, the Dollma Teqe, constructed in 1789.
    The museum of Gjergj Kastriot Scanderbeg
    Of great interest for the tourists is the symbol of the goat’s head on Scanderbeg’s helmet. The goats head on Scanderbeg’s helmet remained since the second battle, when Scanderbeg and his army were besieged by the Turks in the castle. As there was no other way out, Scanderbeg played a trick to the enemies. When it became night, Scanderbeg let a flock of goats with candles on their horns, through a secret passage. The Turks deceived by the lights of the candles on goats’ horns followed the flock through the passage. Taking advantage of the enemy’s confusion, Scanderbeg attacked them successfully. Since that time Scanderbeg decided to keep a goat’s head on his helmet to commemorate his victory.
    The Ethnographic Museum
    The Ethnographic Museum is opened in a characteristic dwelling house of Kruja, which was built in 1764 and owned by Kapllan Pashe Toptani.
    The Bazaar
    One of the most interesting features is the old Bazaar consisting of rows of shops, workshops with wide eaves, to protect the customers from the weather.
    The visitors may buy souvenirs at some local shops, where all kinds of traditional handicrafts objects are exhibited such as filigree, alabaster, silver, cooper, wooden-made objects, wool carpets, and other interesting items
    Albanapoli
    On a hill side near the village of Zgerdhesh (Kruje) are the ruins of the ancient city of “Albanapolis”, the capital of the Illyrian tribe “Alban” which flourished from the end of the 3-rd century A.D. Its name is mentioned for the first time by Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. It is from the “Alban” Illyrian tribe that the country started to be called “Albania” and the people “Albanians”.

    Lezha
    Lezha is one of the oldest towns in Albania, founded in the 4-th century B.C. under the Illyrian name of LIS (Latin Lissus). It is mentioned in documents the first time on 385 B.C. as having been founded by the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysus. On a hill near the town are the remains of the old Illyrian walls, which divide the ancient city into three parts; The Acropolis, The Upper city and The Low City.
    “Lis” became the principal commercial center and port of the Illyrian state of the Ardians Illyrians. Lis was seized by the Romans, and the city played an active role in the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, the Romans who took power rebuilt it after his battle in 48 B.C. In the 9-th century, Lis became part of the Byzantine Empire. From 1391 to 1449, Serbs, then by Dukagjin feudal chieftains passing to the Venetians in 1493 and to the Turks in 1498, held it.
    On 2-nd of March 1444, an important convention of Albanian league was founded, appointing Gjergj Kastriot Scanderbeg, as a supreme commander in the war against Turkish invasion. It was in Lezha on January 1468, after 25 years of victorious battles that our national hero, Scanderbeg died and was buried.
    Today Lezha has a population of 12.000 inhabitants. In the field of industry, Lezha has been known for the paper factory as well as for factories for producing sunflower oil, bricks and tiles, prefabricated building and agricultural machinery, fish canning factory, flour mill etc.

    What to visit
    Skanderbeg`s monumental grave it’s situated in the interior of St. Nicholas Cathedral (in Albanian- Shenkoll). According to the contemporary historian, Marin Barleti, Scanderbeg was buried solemny in this cathedral on January 1468. In front of the ruins of the cathedral is the bust of the hero with the national flag standing behind it. On Scanderbeg’s grave are his sword and the helmet (the originals being in the Art History Museum of Vienna). There are 25 emblems hanging on the walls of the cathedral representing the battles waged by Scanderbeg and their respective dates.
    Cathedral of St. Nicholas was discovered by chance in 1979, during the earthquake. When the Turks occupied the town in 1578, they violated the tomb, shared out his bones to make amulets and turned the cathedral into a mosque. Still on the right wing of the wall has remained a piece of mural from the cathedral of St. Nicholas.
    Lezha offered some years ago one of the most attractive sights:
    The hunting lodge
    “The hunting lodge” is known as the isle of Lezha, situated in beautiful surroundings, 2 km away from the town. The willow trees, the fresh air and the small river flowing by, are a relaxation. “The hunting Lodge” was the property of Count Ciano, Italian Foreign Minister and Mussolini’s son-in-law. It has been functioning for a long time as a hotel and restaurant, but now it is under reconstruction. “The Hunting Lodge”, once upon a time (before 1997) was quite comfortable inside. The timbered ceiling and carefully planned rusticity of the décor, the open fireplace for winter wood burning and the leather chairs made the visitors feel at home. There were two rooms well preserved, where Count Ciano (Italian Foreign Minister and Mussolini’s son-in-law) used to sleep. Not far from this place are the sensitive lagoons and areas along the coast such as Kunea and Vaini rich in pheasant and ducks. Those areas are very attractive for hunting such as deer, hare, chamois and marsh-birds. Departing from Lezha town, the road turns left to Shengjin (7 km away from Lezha).Shengjin is a little’s village with many hotels and the sandy beach is very clean and very beautiful.
    Lisi
    A city founded by the end of 4-th century B.C. During the 3-rd – 2nd century B.C., its surrounding walls separated it into three areas; Acropolis, Upper town and Down town that extended along Drini river. Its walls, 12 gates, and numerous towers are still well preserved.

    Shkodra
    It is the biggest town in northern part of Albania and one of the biggest towns of Albania. The people of this area are famous for their subtle humor and sense of entertainment. They speak a typical northern dialect of the district, with an accent.
    Shkodra, formerly Scutari, is the third largest town in Albania. It is one of the oldest towns in Europe, having been in the 3-th century B.C., the capital of the Illyrian Kingdom of the Ardians, whose queen was the Legendary Teuta.

    What to visit
    “Rozafa” Fortress – One of the most fascinating places “Rozafa” Fortress is situated at the top of the hill, south direction, over-looking the town. There have been identified traces of an original Illyrian castle. “Rozafa” Fortress was built by the Venetians in the 15-th century and strengthened by the Turks when they seized Shkodra a century later. Entering the front gate you will be astonished by the high “milky” walls, shaped into arches, and all this reminds you of the legend related to the fortress;
    • The legend says that three brothers were engaged in the building of the original walls of the fortress, but found that everything they constructed collapsed during the night. An old seer informed them that the successful building of the walls demanded a human sacrifice, and the brothers agreed to sacrifice whichever of their wives brought them their lunch the next day. But the two elder brothers warned their wives, so that the lunch was brought by the wife of the youngest brother. This young woman, Rozafa, agreed to be immured within the walls, but begs that holes be made through which she would feed her baby. And still today, milky water flows from a spring within the walls of the fortress, it is said that it comes out from the breast of the entombed mother.
    • In the museum of the fortress is the statue of Rozafa feeding her baby, which makes the legend more striking?
    At the top of the fortress you will have a clear view of the three rivers, the Buna, Kiri and Drini, which flow into the Adriatic Sea.
    • Descending from the fortress, down to the right, adjacent to the walls of the fortress, stands the Cathedral of St. Stephen, built in the 13-th century.
    The Leaden Mosque
    The Leaden mosque, so called from the lead, which covers the one large and 19 smaller cupolas. This mosque was constructed in 1774.
    The Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church was built in the late 19-th century, which was at that time the largest in the Balkans. Shkodra was formerly the center of the Catholic Church in Albania.
    Mesi Bridge
    It is a medieval bridge, which spans the Kiri River 8 km northeast of Shkodra. It is one of the most exquisite bridges ever built by local master builders.

    Apollonia
    Apollonia is situated 40 km from the city of Vlora. Illyrian Apollonia was founded at the beginning of the 7-th century BC by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra. But the first records we have of their presence there is in 588. During its first years of existence Apollonia kept close contacts with Corcyra and Corinth and played a part of a trade negotiator between Hellenians and Illyrians. Apollonia was in Roman times, a large and flourishing city near Aos river (today Vjosa). Of great interest to be visited are: the encircling wall, the terraced wall with arched gates, the monument of Agonothetes, the library, the Odeon, the portico, the house with mosaics, the museum of Apollonia, the church of St. Mary. Unfortunately, some of the statues and objects were appropriated before 1946 by other countries those remaining are displayed in the museum, which is housed in a 13-th century monastery. The monastery courtyard encloses a Byzantine church dating back to the 14-th century.
    Those foreigners are interested in archaeological researches need much more time to explore the earliest traces if inhabitation in Albanian territory, which have been discovered in Xara (Saranda) and Gajtan (Shkoder) which date back to Paleolithic Age, 100.000 years ago; Neolithic Age, 7000 – 3000 years B.C include discoveries in Dunavec und Maliq( Korce); Iron Age,3-rd millennium B.C Piskova (Permet), Barce(Korce), Pazhok(Elbasan). By the end of 2-nd millennium and the first half of the 1-st millennium B.C Illyrians set up their settlements on hills encircling them with strong walls in the areas of Gajtan (Shkoder), Kalivo (Sarande), Tren (Korce).
    Other ancient archaeological sites of Albania to be visited are: Amantia, Bylis, Antigonea, Albanapoli, Selca e Poshtme, Lisi.

    Berat
    The town of Berat is one of the most ancient towns of Albania, 2400 years old. Lying on the banks of the Osumi river, and overshadowed to the east by the Great Tomorr mountain 2415m,is an ancient Illyrian settlement founded in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. on the territory of the Illyrian tribe of Desaretes. its innumerable monuments and the beautiful and characteristic architecture of its houses have proclaimed Berat, a “Museum Town” .
    During the second century B.C the town was called Antipatrea.
    In the 9th century the town was captured by the Bulgarians until the 11th century and reanmed it Beligrad (White City), from which the present name is derived (Berat). In 16th century Berat had only 710 houses.
    Berat began to revive in the 17th century and become a craft centre, noted particularly for its artistic wood carving. The houses on the fortress side, which date from the 17th century, have typically two storeys, with the upper storey slightly overhanging and rich wood carving within. With their wide facades and large windows, they seem to be built almost on top of one another, giving Berat its name of “The City of One – Thousand Windows”.
    The town is composed of three parts; GORICA, situated on the far side of the river; MANGALEM, situated on the fortress side and the residential quarter within the fortress known as KALAJA.
    The fortress is built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the river Osum and is accessible only from the south, through the Manglem quarter. After being burned down by the Romans in 200 B.C. the walls were strengthened in the 5th century under Byzantine Emperor Theodosius ll, and were rebuilt during 6th century under the Emperor Justinian and again in the 13th century under the Despot of Epirus. The population of the fortress was Christian. Fortress had about 20 churches and only one mosque, mostly built during the 13th century, nowadays survives only a few ruins and five churches.

    What to visit
    The Fortress: The main entrance on the north side is defended by a fortified courtyard and there are three other entrances.
    • The most interesting is the Cathedral of St. Nicholos. Nowadays a museum dedicated to Onufri. (Onufri is the greatest of the 16th century medieval painters in Albania, he was a master of the techniques of fresco and icons, as well as the first to introduce a new colour in painting. Pink which was considered by the French critics as Onufri`s red.
    • The church of St. Mary of Vllaherna.(dating from the 13th century, has 16th century mural paintings by Nikolla, son of famous Onufri.
    • In a small tree-planted square, on a hillside inside the walls of the fortress stand the 14th century Church of Holy Trinty. (Built in the form of a Greek cross and has Byzantine murals.
    Church of St. Michael , built in the 13th century. This church is reached by a steep path, but perfectly safe path.
    • Near the street, running down from the fortress, is the Bachelors Mosque, which has a portico and an interesting external decoration of flowers, plants, houses etc.
    • The King Mosque. It is the oldest in the town, built in the region of Bayazid II (1418- 1512), and is notable for its fine ceiling.
    • The Leaden Mosque. It was built in 1555 and so called from the covering of its cupola .This mosque is in the centre of the town.
    • The Teqe Of Hevletis .It was build in 1790,with a handsome porch, carved and gilded ceiling.
    • Beside religious buildings, Berat has also a Seven-Arched Bridge, built by Kurt Pasha in 1790 which gives access to the Gorica quarter. (Today is disfigured by modern parapets).

    Bylis
    It was the centre of Illyrian tribe – Bylins and one of the most important and largest Illyrian cities, which developed during the 4-th century B.C. During the 3-rd century B.C were build the theatre (8000 seats), the stadium, the gymnasium etc. By the 1st century A.D Bylis became a Poman colony. During the 5-th and 6-th centuries, it became an important diocesan centre, which is proved by the discoveries of 6 basilicas whose floors are laid with mosaics of early Christian motifs.

    Elbasan
    Elbasan is the site of the ancient city of Skampa founded in the 1st century A.D. It developed during the construction of Via Egnatia a main road artery in the land communication and trade and interchanges between the Apennine – Peninsula and the Balkan Peninsula. The surrounding walls of the town were built in the 4th century, having 3 entrances and 26 towers. Its Fortress was built during the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (483 – 565) by which time Skampa had become the seat of Bishop with Cathedral and basilica outside walls. The Bulgarians overran the city and destroyed the fortress in the 9th century. After the failure of the second siege of Kruja, Sultan Mohammed II rebuilt the in 1466 with twenty – six towers, three gates and defending wall and renamed the town Elbasan (El – basan is “put the hand” in Turkish language).In 16th and back Elbasan became a important center of trade and handicrafts, noted for its leather, wood, silk and metals (especially silver).

    What to visit
    The fortress is one of the monuments of the city that attracts the visitors, only the southern part of walls still stand because were destroyed in 1832 by Turks. The main gate is originally and in the entrance of Kala quarters are located the King Mosque, The St Maria Church and the archeological museum. The Turkish bath and the Ethnography Museum are located near the Fortress.

  • Vlora shore excursions, attractions and activities

    It was in Vlora that an Assembly was convened, which proclaimed Albania as an Independent state, forming the first National Government headed by Ismail Qemali on 28th of November 1912. In ancient times the city was known under the name Aulona and was famous for its harbor, salt, olive groves, fish and vineyards. Vlora is the second largest port of Albania, as well as a holiday resort.

    What to visit
    • The Mosque Muradie built in 1542
    • The Bronze Monument of Independence in the center of the city unveiled in 1972.
    • The Museum of town is a small historic and ethnographic museum, where through the exhibits; one is acquainted with the exhibits, one acquainted with the history and ethnographic peculiarities of the region.
    • In the south of Vlora city is located the new beach area named Uji i ftohte (Cold Water).It is noted for its springs of cold water and for the pine and olive trees that make this area a very nice place with great view of Karaberuni peninsula and the Sazan Island. It supplies the town of Vlora with drinking water, while the pipes also feed large tanks in the middle of the bay of Vlora for the supply of ships.

    Kanina
    This village has been a dwelling site since the first half of the last millennium B.C. It became a fortified city be the 4-th century B.C. The defenses of the city were strengthened after the fall of Apollonia, when Vlora replaced it as a port. It is mentioned under its present name in documents of the 4-th century A.D. The fortress still stands on top of a hill. The city passed from Byzantine rule through various invasions until conquered by the Turks in 1417.In the 13-th century the city had declined into a mere village and was the seat of a bishopric.

    National Park of Llogara
    From Vlora, the road begins to snake up towards the Llogara pass, the highest point of which is 1025 meters above the sea level. Here quite a different landscape meets the travelers gaze.
    The traveler gets a tremendous view of the Ionian Sea, with the characteristic dark blue color of its waters. Descending the Llogara Pass, the pine trees grow taller and their pungent aroma becomes more intense. In the hot summer time, a refreshing coolness permeates the valley. All along the road, there are springs of cold water. In Llogara, there is a mountain health resort, where people can spend their holidays.

    Narta and Zverneci
    At the north direction of Vlora there is the Lagoon of Narta, which is the second in Albania in terms of size. It is a worth visiting place for the nature lovers. The lagoon is rich in species of water fowls and fish. On the shore of the lagoon there are Narta and Zverneci villages, which are well known for their local wine. In the small island in front of Zverneci there is a Byzantine church of Saint Maria (XVI century). The island is covered by dense Mediterranean woods and together with the cape of Triporti makes a very nice natural place.

    South Coast Ionian sea
    The ancient city of Orikum known by the name of Pashaliman was founded in the 4-th century B.C. Llogara Pass is 1025 meters above the sea level. The traveler gets a tremendous view of the Ionian Sea. Dhermi, one of the finest beaches in the country, has become a popular holiday resort. Himara is situated on a hill in the centre of the Albanian Riviera, 72 km away from Vlora. On the top of the hill are ruins of an Illyrian fortress, the ancient Chimera. Himara is a lovely beach area. Between Himara and Qeparo village, there is a very picturesque gulf, the Gulf of Porto Palermo-the ancient Panormon. It has a small seaport, frequented by seamen since the middle Ages. There is a small fortress erected by Ali Pasha Tepelena on an attractive island, which is worth visiting.

    Pashaliman Submarine Station
    The Pasha Liman Base or Pashaliman Base, also referred to as Vlora Naval Shipyard, is an Albanian navy base South of Vlorë, Albania.Pashaliman was the only Soviet base in the Mediterranean in the 1950s. It was the hot spot of conflict between the Russians and the Albanians in 1961 when Albania pulled out of the Warsaw Pact. Most ships currently there are out of operation. Following the collapse of the Communist regime, the base was rebuilt by Turkey and under a bilateral agreement the Turkish Navy has the right to use it.

    Oricum
    The ancient city of Oricum is rather unusual amongst Albanian National Parks as it lies within the confines of the naval base at Pasha Liman south of Vlora. Special permission is necessary to visit this site.
    The city is set in a fine location on a small hill overlooking the bay of Vlora to the north and a sheltered lagoon to the south. Oricum was an Euboean Greek colony founded in the 7th century BC, an unusual rival to the Corinthian Greeks who were responsible for most of the other colonial settlements on the Albanian seaboard. It exploited the good soils of the Dukat plain to the south, the waters of the bay and the quarries of the nearby Karabarun peninsula.
    The city has been used as a base by Roman armies during the wars against Macedonia, but Oricum’s most notable moment came during the civil war between Caesar and Pompey in the 1st century BC. Used as a base by the Pompeian’s it was the first city captured by Caesar during his invasion of the Balkans. He provides a dramatic account of the fighting that occurred around the harbor of the city.
    The city was used as a base by Roman armies during the wars against Macedonia, but Oricum’s most notable moment came during the civil war between Caesar and Pompey in the 1st century BC. Used as a base by the Pompeian’s it was the first city captured by Caesar during his invasion of the Balkans. He provides a dramatic account of the fighting that occurred around the harbour of the city.
    The city appears to have survived into the Roman period, and was refortified in the Byzantine period as one of the principal strongholds of the Byzantine Empire on the Adriatic coast, then being renamed Jericho.

    Palasa “Cesar Victory Landmark”
    Palasa a name resembling that of the place where, according to Lucan,Caesar landed from Brundusium previously to his operations against Pompey in Illyria, but which Caesar names Pharsalus. There can be little doubt that, in this instance, the poet is more correct than the great captain, who was so negligent of geography, (in Greece at least), that he has not named the place in Thessaly, where he gained the greatest of all his victories: so that this is the only passage in the commentaries where the word Pharsalus occurs. Caesar’s chief consideration in selecting his place of debarkation on this coast was to avoid the harbors likely to be in the hands of the enemy, and to make himself master of Oricum, Apollonia, and Dyrrhachium [Durrës], before Pompey could arrive from Macedonia. Trusting, therefore, to his protecting fortune to carry him through the perils both of the enemy and the season, he embarked seven legions and six hundred cavalry at Brundusium, in ships of burthen, for want of any others, arrived on the day after his departure at the Ceraunia, where he found a quiet station for the ships in the midst of rocks and dangerous places; and having immediately landed his troops, sent back the ships to Italy the same night. By this promptitude, Pompey arrived from Candavia in time only to save Dyrrhachium. Appian, though he does not specify in what part of the Ceraunian mountains the landing was made, shows that it was very near to Oricum, for he agrees with Caesar representing Oricum to have been taken within a day from the time of the landing: he adds that Caesar marched by night; that on account of the rugged and difficult country, he divided his forces into several bodies, which were reunited at daybreak, and that the Oricii having declared their unwillingness to resist the Roman Consul, the commander of the garrison delivered up the keys to Caesar. The distance of the site of Oricum from the shore below Palása, seems perfectly to agree with these circumstances; and there is in fact a small harbour below Palása, though it seems rather diminutive for the force which Caesar disembarked.

    Dhermi
    The village of Dhermi, one of the seven villages of the Himara region, is the second village a traveler will see once past the pass of Llogara and its national park. Located at the foot of Acroceraunian mountains, (which the Roman poet Horace calls as “infames scopulos Acroceraunia”), overseeing quite a long beach and a marvelous Ionian sea and amidst the green olives grooves and citrus plantations, the village possesses a magnificent beauty. The English landscape painter Edward Lear describes it as “more magnificent in his location than any other village I have seen in Acroceraunia and resemble no little Atrani and Amalfi (in Italy)”.
    Drimadhes is located in middle of a 5 kilometers long beach that begins in the peninsula of Karaburuni and ends in the hills, above which stands the monastery of Saint Theodore. The village itself is composed of three quarters: Kondraqi – the first to be encountered by those arriving from Vlora, Gjilek – the second and the third quarter is Dhermi, after which the whole village is named. It’s estimated that the village has some 600 houses, of which 300 are in Drimadhes , 150 in Gjilek and the rest in Kondraq. The village is located 52 km from Vlora, 72 km north of Saranda and 210 km from the capital Tirana. Administratively is included in the municipality of Himara, region of Himara, district of Vlora.

    Apollonia
    Apollonia is situated 40 km from the city of Vlora. Illyrian Apollonia was founded at the beginning of the 7-th century BC by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra. But the first records we have of their presence there is in 588. During its first years of existence Apollonia kept close contacts with Corcyra and Corinth and played a part of a trade negotiator between Hellenians and Illyrians. Apollonia was in Roman times, a large and flourishing city near Aos river (today Vjosa). Of great interest to be visited are: the encircling wall, the terraced wall with arched gates, the monument of Agonothetes, the library, the Odeon, the portico, the house with mosaics, the museum of Apollonia, the church of St. Mary. Unfortunately, some of the statues and objects were appropriated before 1946 by other countries those remaining are displayed in the museum, which is housed in a 13-th century monastery. The monastery courtyard encloses a Byzantine church dating back to the 14-th century.
    Those foreigners are interested in archaeological researches need much more time to explore the earliest traces if inhabitation in Albanian territory, which have been discovered in Xara (Saranda) and Gajtan (Shkoder) which date back to Paleolithic Age, 100.000 years ago; Neolithic Age, 7000 – 3000 years B.C include discoveries in Dunavec und Maliq( Korce); Iron Age,3-rd millennium B.C Piskova (Permet), Barce(Korce), Pazhok(Elbasan). By the end of 2-nd millennium and the first half of the 1-st millennium B.C Illyrians set up their settlements on hills encircling them with strong walls in the areas of Gajtan (Shkoder), Kalivo (Sarande), Tren (Korce).
    Other ancient archaeological sites of Albania to be visited are: Amantia, Bylis, Antigonea, Albanapoli, Selca e Poshtme, Lisi.

    Berat
    The town of Berat is one of the most ancient towns of Albania, 2400 years old. Lying on the banks of the Osumi river, and overshadowed to the east by the Great Tomorr mountain 2415m,is an ancient Illyrian settlement founded in the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. on the territory of the Illyrian tribe of Desaretes. its innumerable monuments and the beautiful and characteristic architecture of its houses have proclaimed Berat, a “Museum Town” .
    During the second century B.C the town was called Antipatrea.
    In the 9th century the town was captured by the Bulgarians until the 11th century and reanmed it Beligrad (White City), from which the present name is derived (Berat). In 16th century Berat had only 710 houses.
    Berat began to revive in the 17th century and become a craft centre, noted particularly for its artistic wood carving. The houses on the fortress side, which date from the 17th century, have typically two storeys, with the upper storey slightly overhanging and rich wood carving within. With their wide facades and large windows, they seem to be built almost on top of one another, giving Berat its name of “The City of One – Thousand Windows”.
    The town is composed of three parts; GORICA, situated on the far side of the river; MANGALEM, situated on the fortress side and the residential quarter within the fortress known as KALAJA.
    The fortress is built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the river Osum and is accessible only from the south, through the Manglem quarter. After being burned down by the Romans in 200 B.C. the walls were strengthened in the 5th century under Byzantine Emperor Theodosius ll, and were rebuilt during 6th century under the Emperor Justinian and again in the 13th century under the Despot of Epirus. The population of the fortress was Christian. Fortress had about 20 churches and only one mosque, mostly built during the 13th century, nowadays survives only a few ruins and five churches.

    What to visit
    The Fortress: The main entrance on the north side is defended by a fortified courtyard and there are three other entrances.
    • The most interesting is the Cathedral of St. Nicholos. Nowadays a museum dedicated to Onufri. (Onufri is the greatest of the 16th century medieval painters in Albania, he was a master of the techniques of fresco and icons, as well as the first to introduce a new colour in painting. Pink which was considered by the French critics as Onufri`s red.
    The church of St. Mary of Vllaherna. (Dating from the 13th century has 16th century mural paintings by Nikolla, son of famous Onufri.
    • In a small tree-planted square, on a hillside inside the walls of the fortress stand the 14th century Church of Holy Trinty…(Built in the form of a Greek cross and has Byzantine murals.
    Church of St. Michael, built in the 13th century. This church is reached by a steep path, but perfectly safe path.
    • Near the street, running down from the fortress, is the Bachelors Mosque, which has a portico and an interesting external decoration of flowers, plants, houses etc.
    • The King Mosque. It is the oldest in the town, built in the region of Bayazid II (1418- 1512), and is notable for its fine ceiling.
    • The Leaden Mosque. It was built in 1555 and so called from the covering of its cupola .This mosque is in the centre of the town.
    • The Teqe Of Hevletis .It was build in 1790,with a handsome porch, carved and gilded ceiling.
    • Beside religious buildings, Berat has also a Seven-Arched Bridge, built by Kurt Pasha in 1790 which gives access to the Gorica quarter. (Today is disfigured by modern parapets).

    Bylis
    It was the centre of Illyrian tribe – Bylins and one of the most important and largest Illyrian cities, which developed during the 4-th century B.C. During the 3-rd century B.C were build the theatre (8000 seats), the stadium, the gymnasium etc. By the 1st century A.D Bylis became a Poman colony. During the 5-th and 6-th centuries, it became an important diocesan centre, which is proved by the discoveries of 6 basilicas whose floors are laid with mosaics of early Christian motifs.

  • Saranda shore excursions, attractions and activities

    Near Saranda stood the ancient Illyrian city of Onchesmos, mentioned as a port in the 1st century B.C.
    In the 4-th century A.D. the town was fortified with walls. Inside the walls have been excavated the remains of dwellings, water cisterns and an early Christian Basilica of the 5-th and 6-th centuries, containing a beautiful multicolored floor mosaic. Other mosaics are to be found in the district museum. The ruins are also preserved of an early Christian Monastery dedicated to Santi Quaranta (Forty Saints), from which the modern name of the town (Saranda) is derived.

    Saranda, the gateway to the Southern Albania, is a small town located between mountains and the Ionian Sea.

    Saranda is situated in an open sea gulf, opposite the island of Corfu. Just 2km away from the centre of the town is situated the Castle of Lêkursit (Kalaja e Lekursit) surrounded by ancient Illyrian walls. A lovely Bar Restaurant is situated at the wonderful and relaxing nature of the Castle. The sea panorama, the variety of flora, characterized by a Mediterranean climate, make Saranda one of the most attractive tourist towns of the Albanian Riviera, where honeymooners traditionally spend their holidays. That’s why; Saranda is called by Albanians as the town of the “honeymooners”.

    What to visit

    A picturesque road links Saranda with the archaeological centre of Butrint.
    On the left is the lake of Butrint. This lake feeds into the sea through a channel called Vivari. Because of this connection with the sea, the water of the lake is half salt and half sweet. The lake of Butrint (known in ancient times as Pelos) is rich in mussels; there are build wooden structures in the lake to catch the mussels. The road passes by the Peninsula of Ksamil.
    On top of a hill overlooking the sea, you have a clear view of the sea and the island of Corfu, which is only 4 km away. Despite the rocky beach, the tourists prefer to swim in Ksamil, because of its crystal clear water. Leaving Ksamil, you drive to Butrint. Butrint is located on a small peninsula between the strait of Corfu and Butrint Lake.

    Butrint
    A pleasant narrow road overlooking the sea and marshes leads to Butrint through a landscape of olive and orange tree plantations. Butrint is situated 15 km south of Saranda. The ancient city of Butrint, which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was first inhabited by Illyrians.
    Butrint is a special archaeological site – a microcosm of Mediterranean history from the age of the archaic Greeks until the Venetians. Virgil believed that it was the new Troy, and associated its foundation with Aeneas. Plutarch recounts the legend that Pan died here. 3000 years of ever – changing settlement have left their mark and today the visitor can wander amongst the ruins of one of the great cities of the ancient world.

    The countryside
    Outside the city walls of Butrint, in the wonderfully unspoilt landscape of southern Albania, the visitor can find the remains of castles, churches, a Roman aqueduct that served the city and many Roman villas. This historic landscape is also home to a rich diversity of rare and endangered wildlife.

    The ancient city of Butrint is much preferable to be visited as an archaeological center, where antiquity and beauty intertwine. The archaeological excavations show that Butrint has been an important center of the Kaonian Illyrians, one of the big tribes of southern Illyria. According to discoveries made in the area, it has been proved that the site was inhabited as early as Paleolithic period. In the 6-th century BC Greeks from Corfu settled here, along side with Illyrians and the new colony prospered as the result of the trade. By the fifth century BC, Buthroton was an Illyrian fortified city. In the fourth century BC Butrint had fallen to Epirus, and in 167 BC it was taken by Rome. It was a seat of a Byzantine bishop in the 10-th century. Butrint was captured by the Normans in eleventh century and passed to Venice from 1690 to 1797, when Ali Pasha Tepelena captured it. With the fall of the Pashallek of Janina, in 1822, Butrint passed under Ottoman rule until 1913. Several excavations dating from the 1-st and 4-th centuries AD can now be visited, among them the Old Amphitheatre, the temple of Asclepiads or Aesculapius, the Baptistery, Nymphaeum and the ancient city walls. Do not miss the Baptistery, with a floor of colorful mosaics. An old fortress housing a small museum watches over the whole site.

    The excavations
    Excavations at Butrint have unearthed many of the major monuments of the city: Italian excavations in the 1920s and 30s, led by Count Luigi Ugolini, uncovered many of the archaic and classical monuments such as the city walls, gates, theatre and bath houses. Since 1944 research has been continued by the Albanian Institutes of Archaeology and Monuments and since 1991 in collaboration with a Greek team in the investigation into the origins of Butrint and with the Butrint Foundation.
    The Butrint Foundation’s work has largely focused on the Byzantine monuments of the city which include a palace complex, a basilica and finest of all, an early sixth-century baptistery with startling mosaics depicting wild animals, birds and fish, the symbols of baptism and Christian communion.

    Visitor trail:
    1. Roman bath house
    2. City walls
    3. Roman bath house
    4. Theatre
    5. Roman peristyle house
    6. Imperial building complex
    7. Triconch palace
    8. Baptistery
    9. Nymphaeum
    10. Basilica
    11. The Lake Gate
    12. The Lion Gate
    13. Viewpoint
    14. Venetian castle

    The Butrint Foundation was set up by Lord Rothschild and Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover in 1994 for the conservation and preservation of Butrint and its hinterland.

    Finiq (Phoinike)
    Phoinike is situated ca.8 km east of the modern city of Saranda and about 20 km from the Greek border. In antiquity the territory around the site belonged to Chaonia, part of the Epirus kingdom, and it is rich in finds from the Classical to the Byzantine period, while in the distance to the south of the ancient city lies the Butrint lake.
    Ancient sources mention the wealth of the city, especially during the Hellenistic period, between the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. when Phoinike was a leading city in the Epirote League.
    Within the walls of Phoinike was signed the end of the first Macedonian War, the document took of the name “the Peace of Phoinike”.
    The city’s prosperity continued also during the Roman imperial period, while during the Byzantine period the city records about 10 centuries of continuous life. The Ottoman occupation of Phoinike came abruptly and the city declined by taking the form of a small village.
    A thesaurus (a small prostylos temple), the theatre, Hellenistic houses, several Roman water cisterns and a Byzantine church can be seen while visiting Phoinike.

    The “Blue Eye”(Syri i Kalter)
    The “Blue Eye”(Syri i Kalter) is situated 8 km north of Saranda town. The “Blue Eye” spring is formed by the underground springs and is worth visiting. At this beautiful spot shaded by centuries old oak trees, a twelve headed dragon, according to the legend, jealously guarded and held back the spring waters from the villagers. Consequently, the pagan rituals were carried out through sacrificing young voluptuous maidens to the gods of the same waters. Sometimes tourists organize lunch picnics at this magical place.

    Mesopotam

    Approximately 10 km outside Saranda, towards Gjirokastra, is the monastery at Mesopotam – one of the unrivalled jewels of this region of Albania. Dedicated to Saint Nicholas (Shën Kolli), the monastery is situated on a low hill within the floodplain of the Bistrice River.
    The monastery is first recorded in 1081 when Basil of Mesopotam commanded local Byzantine forces against the invading Normans at Butrint led by Robert Guiscard. However, it flourished in the 13th century under the Epirote Despotate, a sub-Byzantine state established after the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders in 1204.
    The 10 m high wall marking the entrance is the remainder of one of the seven towers of the fortified enclosure of the site. This tower (now used as a bell-tower) was the largest and originally used for accommodation, the other towers were probably mainly defensive.
    The present church is thought to date largely to the 13th century, although some 18th and 19th century reconstruction is recorded. Traces of the foundations of two large original apses of the church can still be seen, together with the apse of a later, subsidiary chapel to the south, and the foundations of the portico that surrounded the original building on three sides.
    In the 6th century, the area around the temple was occupied by a three-ailed basilica with transepts, and with an associated baptismal font erected in the ‘treasury’. The building seems to have remained in use – if of much reduced size – into the early Middle Ages.
    The original northern doorway is now blocked and the church is entered via a small door in the eastern wall. The interior is suggestive, lit only by a dim illumination from the partly blocked in windows. However, traces of wall paintings can be made out beneath a blue wash added in the Ottoman period when the church was converted into a mosque. Fragments of the original pavement bordered by opus sectile bands can also be seen.
    The existing iconostasis is a product of the later 18th century, as are the paintings in the sanctuary. The screen itself is formed by a series of reused Roman granite columns with elaborately carved 13th-century capitals and bases. In its 13th-century heyday, this great monastic church with its four domes resembled the majestic church of Paregoritssa at Arta, the capital of the Despots.

    Ksamil
    Ksamil is a municipality in the riviera of Southern Albania built in 1966, and part of Butrint National Park.The coastal village is located south of the city of Sarandë off the road to Butrint and is part of District of Sarandë.
    Ksamil is one of the most frequented coastal resorts by both domestic and foreign tourists. Ksamil Beach and Albania’s Adriatic Coast further north was included in the Guardian’s 20 of the best bargain beach holidays for 2013.Coast of Ksamil overlooking the Ksamil Islands.
    The main attractions are the nearby Ksamil Islands, where fresh seafood restaurants are located and which can be easily reached by boat. The mainland beach is small but clean.
    During communism, the area became well known for the production of olive oil, lemons, and tangerines. Today is one of the most frequented beach are of Saranda county.

    Gjirokastra
    Gjirokastra which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated in the southern part of Albania, on the slope of the hills of (Mali I Gjere), overlooking river Drino. The first traces are to be found in the 1st century A.D. It became an urban centre by the 13th century.
    Gjirokastra is mentioned for the first time in a document of 1336, under the name ARGYROPOLIHNE (the township of Argyro), derived, according to the legend. (Princess Argyro, who hurled herself to her death from a tower to avoid falling into the hands of the invaders,.
    Later the town became known as ARGYROKASTRO. Gjirokaster had been under the Byzantine dominion till late 14th century, when it passed under the control of the Albanian feudal Prince Zanebisha. Gjirokaster was captured in the year 1432 by the Ottoman Turks, who called it Erigeri. In 1811, the Great Ali Pashe Tepelena, after bombarding the fortress with artillery, forced the town to capitulate. Later Gjirokastra played an important role as the cradle of the patriotic movement of the Albanians for freedom and independence.
    Nowadays Gjirokastra is one of the most attractive towns in Albania. Gjirokastra or so called “ the town of one thousand steps” or “ the stone town” is of particular interest for its native architecture.

    Fortress: One of the most interesting attractions is the Fortress, which is built in the 4th century. It is the biggest castle in Albania and is situated on the top of a hill to provide the possibility for visitors to cast a glance on the most interesting landscape of the city and the nearby area as well as Drinos valley.
    Open air theatre was in every five years organized national folklore festival. About 2000 singers, and musicians took part, one group

    National Museum of the Weapons is at the main entrance of the fortress. The museum tells the story Albanian weapons through the ages.

    The Old Bazaar quarter, where are the shops situated in narrow cobbled streets, the church that dates before 1780. and the Bazaar Mosque built in 1757.It has a circled stony roof and tall minaret

    The Mecite quarter with Old Turkish Baths, which date to the 17th century and the Mecite Mosque. The church of Varosh quarter, dates from 1776.

    • Departing from Gjirokaster and looking at the stony roofs, you can recall what a foreign visitor once said: “I don’t think there could be found another city in the world to match Gjirokaster. It seems as if, it were the kingdom of the fairy of earth. A kingdom somewhat tired and veiled with a thin layer of laze”

    Antigonea
    Antigonea is situated 15 km away from Gjirokaster town. The ancient Illyrian town of Kaons, Antigonea, was founded in the 3rd century B.C.
    The ancient town was built on a flat terrain between two mountain crests at a strategic position of Drino valley.The town was built by King Phyrros who gave the name to the town for the honor of Antigone, the daughter of Ptolemeu (The King of Egypt). “Pyhrros Victory”

    Himara
    Himarë is a municipality along the Albanian Ionnian Riviera in southern Albania and part of the District of Vlorë. Apart from the town of Himarë, the region consists of 7 other villages: Dhërmi, Pilur, Kudhës, Qeparo, Vuno, Iljas and Palasë.
    The area has a great potential for tourism, with the major characteristics of the municipal town being its seaside promenade, with taverns and the traditionally preserved old town built on a hill. The town of Himarë consists of the old town, Kastro, situated on and around the old castle and the coastal region of Spilea, which is the touristic and economic center of the region. Other parts of the town are Potami, Livadhi, Zhamari, Michaili and Stefaneli. North of the town of Himarë lie the villages of Vuno, Liates, Dhërmi, with its coastal region Jaliskari, and Palasë. Dhermi contains a number of recently built beach resorts. On the mountains lie Pilur and Kudhës, while Qeparo lies to the south of the town of Himarë.[8]
    The region has several Orthodox churches and monasteries, built in the traditional Byzantine architecture, like the Monastery of the Cross, Athaliotissa, Saint Theodore, Virgin Mary in Dhërmi and Saint Demetrius. Moreover, a number of churches are located inside the castle of Himarë, which was initially built in classical antiquity, like the Church of Virgin Mary Kasopitra, Episkopi, which is built on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo, as well as the Aghioi Pantes church, in the entrance of the castle. Additional monuments in the castle include the mansion of the Spyromilios family and other attractions.

  • Shengjin shore excursions, attractions and activities

    Shengjin
    Shengjin is one of the youngest city ports developed in the past decade and you will see along your short “trip” to Shengjin center that the city gives you an impression of a new and modern small town. In history is mentioned from the battles of Cesar and Pompey and for some time, the town had the name of the President Woodrow Wilson, still honored today with the name of a promenade in Shengjin. Along the way to the center, passing by coffees you’ll also note its quite pure coastline on the other side.

    Lezha
    Lezha is one of the oldest towns in Albania, founded in the 4-th century B.C. under the Illyrian name of LIS (Latin Lissus). It is mentioned in documents the first time on 385 B.C. as having been founded by the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysus. On a hill near the town are the remains of the old Illyrian walls, which divide the ancient city into three parts; The Acropolis, The Upper city and The Low City.
    “Lis” became the principal commercial center and port of the Illyrian state of the Ardians Illyrians. Lis was seized by the Romans, and the city played an active role in the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, the Romans who took power rebuilt it after his battle in 48 B.C. In the 9-th century, Lis became part of the Byzantine Empire. From 1391 to 1449, Serbs, then by Dukagjin feudal chieftains passing to the Venetians in 1493 and to the Turks in 1498, held it.
    On 2-nd of March 1444, an important convention of Albanian league was founded, appointing Gjergj Kastriot Scanderbeg, as a supreme commander in the war against Turkish invasion. It was in Lezha on January 1468, after 25 years of victorious battles that our national hero, Scanderbeg died and was buried. Today Lezha has a population of 12.000 inhabitants. In the field of industry, Lezha has been known for the paper factory as well as for factories for producing sunflower oil, bricks and tiles, prefabricated building and agricultural machinery, fish canning factory, flour mill etc.

    What to visit
    Skanderbeg`s monumental grave it’s situated in the interior of St. Nicholas Cathedral (in Albanian- Shenkoll). According to the contemporary historian, Marin Barleti, Scanderbeg was buried solemny in this cathedral on January 1468. In front of the ruins of the cathedral is the bust of the hero with the national flag standing behind it. On Scanderbeg’s grave are his sword and the helmet (the originals being in the Art History Museum of Vienna). There are 25 emblems hanging on the walls of the cathedral representing the battles waged by Scanderbeg and their respective dates.
    Cathedral of St. Nicholas was discovered by chance in 1979, during the earthquake. When the Turks occupied the town in 1578, they violated the tomb, shared out his bones to make amulets and turned the cathedral into a mosque. Still on the right wing of the wall has remained a piece of mural from the cathedral of St. Nicholas.
    The hunting lodge
    “The hunting lodge” is known as the isle of Lezha, situated in beautiful surroundings, 2 km away from the town. The willow trees, the fresh air and the small river flowing by, are a relaxation. “The hunting Lodge” was the property of Count Ciano, Italian Foreign Minister and Mussolini’s son-in-law. It has been functioning for a long time as a hotel and restaurant, but now it is under reconstruction. “The Hunting Lodge”, once upon a time (before 1997) was quite comfortable inside. The timbered ceiling and carefully planned rusticity of the décor, the open fireplace for winter wood burning and the leather chairs made the visitors feel at home. There were two rooms well preserved, where Count Ciano (Italian Foreign Minister and Mussolini’s son-in-law) used to sleep. Not far from this place are the sensitive lagoons and areas along the coast such as Kunea and Vaini rich in pheasant and ducks. Those areas are very attractive for hunting such as deer, hare, chamois and marsh-birds. Departing from Lezha town, the road turns left to Shengjin (7 km away from Lezha).Shengjin is a little’s village with many hotels and the sandy beach is very clean and very beautiful.
    Lisi
    A city founded by the end of 4-th century B.C. During the 3-rd – 2nd century B.C., its surrounding walls separated it into three areas; Acropolis, Upper town and Down town that extended along Drini river. Its walls, 12 gates, and numerous towers are still well preserved.

    Shkodra
    It is the biggest town in northern part of Albania and one of the biggest towns of Albania. The people of this area are famous for their subtle humor and sense of entertainment. They speak a typical northern dialect of the district, with an accent. Shkodra, formerly Scutari, is the third largest town in Albania. It is one of the oldest towns in Europe, having been in the 3-th century B.C., the capital of the Illyrian Kingdom of the Ardians, whose queen was the Legendary Teuta.

    What to visit
    “Rozafa” Fortress – One of the most fascinating places “Rozafa” Fortress is situated at the top of the hill, south direction, over-looking the town. There have been identified traces of an original Illyrian castle. “Rozafa” Fortress was built by the Venetians in the 15-th century and strengthened by the Turks when they seized Shkodra a century later. Entering the front gate you will be astonished by the high “milky” walls, shaped into arches, and all this reminds you of the legend related to the fortress;
    The legend says that three brothers were engaged in the building of the original walls of the fortress, but found that everything they constructed collapsed during the night. An old seer informed them that the successful building of the walls demanded a human sacrifice, and the brothers agreed to sacrifice whichever of their wives brought them their lunch the next day. But the two elder brothers warned their wives, so that the lunch was brought by the wife of the youngest brother. This young woman, Rozafa, agreed to be immured within the walls, but begs that holes be made through which she would feed her baby. And still today, milky water flows from a spring within the walls of the fortress, it is said that it comes out from the breast of the entombed mother.
    • In the museum of the fortress is the statue of Rozafa feeding her baby, which makes the legend more striking? At the top of the fortress you will have a clear view of the three rivers, the Buna, Kiri and Drini, which flow into the Adriatic Sea. Descending from the fortress, down to the right, adjacent to the walls of the fortress, stands the Cathedral of St. Stephen, built in the 13-th century.
    The Leaden Mosque
    The Leaden mosque, so called from the lead, which covers the one large and 19 smaller cupolas. This mosque was constructed in 1774.
    The Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church was built in the late 19-th century, which was at that time the largest in the Balkans. Shkodra was formerly the center of the Catholic Church in Albania.
    Mesi Bridge
    It is a medieval bridge, which spans the Kiri River 8 km northeast of Shkodra. It is one of the most exquisite bridges ever built by local master builders.

    Tirana
    Capital of the Republic of Albania, with a population of just over 700.000, lies at the foot of Dajti Mountain (1612 m) at the 110 m above the sea level. The region of Tirana has been inhabited since the Neolithic period.(The ruins of a castle of the 1st century AD were discovered at the foot of the mountain.
    Tirana was founded in 1614 when, under the care of Sulejman Pasha Mulleti, the first settlement was built.
    It consisted of a mosque, bath-house (Hamam), a bakery and some shops. By the middle of the 17th century, Tirana began to develop as a major market-town, together with handicraft shops specializing is silk, cotton cloth, leather, ceramics, metals and silvers. The Albanian Government which emerged from the Congress of Lushnja, was seated in Tirana on February 8, 1920. Thereafter Tirana became the capital of the country. In 1920 the population of Tirana was around 17.000 inhabitants.
    In the early 1930`s a town-planning was started by the ex Albanian King Ahmet Zogu. The existing ministries and the municipality building, as well as Skenderbeg square, date back to that period. Today Tirana is the main administrative, economical, art and culture centre.

    What to visit
    • The Main Boulevard “Deshmoret e Kombit”. (A foreing when visit Tirana at 1930 said: I have seen capital without boulevard, but I have ever seen Boulevard without capital.
    • The Scanderbeg memorial, the Scanderbeg square, Ethem Beu Mosque (1789), the Clock Tower 35 m high (1830) and National Museum.
    • The complex of Albanian ministry and Rinia Park.
    • The Pyramide, International Culture Centre (Ex Museum of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha).
    • The ex communist residence in the centre of the city before 1989 was only for the Albanian leaders, today the Tirana downtown with restaurants, bars, business centers etc. (House of ex Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha).
    • Mother Teresa square, the Congress Palace, University of Tirana and National Park.
    • The bound of Lana river that passed in the middle of the capital, Tanners Bridge (Ura e Tabakeve), Parliament Building(1924) and The Holy Tomb of Kaplan Pasha.
    • The Kavaja and Durresi streets, the Orthodox Church (1780), The Catholic Church of St.Marie (1865).

    Other interest site
    • Only 25 km from Tirana center is located National Park of Dajti on the Dajti Mountain, a natural park rich in diversity of trees and plants. Now is a peaceful place almost during the summer with many bars and restaurants.
    • One of the most interesting places to see around Tirana is Petrela village (12km). Petrela is known as a dwelling place as early as back 2000 years ago in the ruins of Illyrian town of Persqopi. In that time the town is supposed to be used as a residential place of Galukia, one of the Illyrian Kings. The most interesting object is the mediavel Castle which dates back to the 4th century B.C. rising on a rocky hill. Its current architecture is the 13th century, during the domination of Topia tribe and later on became the property of the Kastriot family. In this castle was married Mamica Kastrioti the Scanderbeg sister. The Ballaban Pasha Sulltan was killed from Scanderbeg forces during the Ottoman invasions in the Ballkan Peninsula. The area around Petrela offers unique landscape of broken hills covered by olive trees.
    • In south-east direction from Tirana (18 km) there is also a carstic cave, called Shpella e zeze (Black cave) or Shpella e Pellumbit.

    Kruja
    The famous English painter, Edward Lear (1812 – 1888), who visited Kruje in 1848 wrote:
    “Kruje, a charming little town all up in the sky”.
    The historical town of Kruja is situated north – East of Tirana, 560m above sea level on the slopes of Sari – Salltiku Mountain. Kruja has been inhabited since the 3-th century B.C. It was mentioned for the first time as a Christian religious center in the year 879. Kruja became the capital of the first Albanian principality of Arberia, known for its trade and handicrafts. The name of Kruja is related with the name of Gjergj Kastriot Scanderbeg, who fought heroically against the Ottoman invasion. The youngest of Gjon Kastrioti’s four sons, Gjergj, was sent with his three brothers as hostage to Sultan at Constantinople in 1415. He became famous at the military school and he was given the Islamic name “Iksander” (Albanian – Skender) and the title “begs” for valor on the battlefield. In 1443, he suddenly left the Ottoman army fighting Hynyadi, the Hungarian hero, and returned to Albania, where on the 28-th of November, 1443, with an army of 300 horsemen raised the Albanian flag in Kruja. During the 15-th century, Scanderbeg played a great role for the liberation of the country. According to the sources of the Albanian historians, Scanderbeg fought 25 battles (one battle in a year) and lost only two.

    What to visit
    The fortress was built in the 5-th and 6-th centuries A.D. The main entrance of the castle is situated on the northeast. Near the Tower stands the Mosque (formerly a Christian church) while the remains have also been excavated of a Christian Church with mural paintings. To the west of the fortress is situated a 15-th century hamam (Turkish bath) and the former Bektashi monastery, the Dollma Teqe, constructed in 1789.
    The museum of Gjergj Kastriot Scanderbeg: Of great interest for the tourists is the symbol of the goat’s head on Scanderbeg’s helmet. The goats head on Scanderbeg’s helmet remained since the second battle, when Scanderbeg and his army were besieged by the Turks in the castle. As there was no other way out, Scanderbeg played a trick to the enemies. When it became night, Scanderbeg let a flock of goats with candles on their horns, through a secret passage. The Turks deceived by the lights of the candles on goats’ horns followed the flock through the passage. Taking advantage of the enemy’s confusion, Scanderbeg attacked them successfully. Since that time Scanderbeg decided to keep a goat’s head on his helmet to commemorate his victory.
    The Ethnographic Museum is opened in a characteristic dwelling house of Kruja, which was built in 1764 and owned by Kapllan Pashe Toptani.
    The Bazaar: One of the most interesting features is the old Bazaar consisting of rows of shops, workshops with wide eaves, to protect the customers from the weather.
    • The visitors may buy souvenirs at some local shops, where all kinds of traditional handicrafts objects are exhibited such as filigree, alabaster, silver, cooper, wooden-made objects, wool carpets, and other interesting items
    Albanapoli: On a hill side near the village of Zgerdhesh (Kruje) are the ruins of the ancient city of “Albanapolis”, the capital of the Illyrian tribe “Alban” which flourished from the end of the 3-rd century A.D. Its name is mentioned for the first time by Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. It is from the “Alban” Illyrian tribe that the country started to be called “Albania” and the people “Albanians”.

    Durres
    Durres formerly Durrazzio is an ancient city founded in 627 B.C. The legend says:” It was founded by Epidamnos, the Illyrian king of the area, who called it by his own name and named the port area after his grandson – Dyrrah”.
    In 1627 B.C. Greeks from Corfu and Corinth invaded the area and celled the area Dyrrachium. In the 4th century B.C. Durrachium had become an independent city – state, producing metalwork, pottery, fabrics, leather and shops and its coins were circulating throughout the ancient world. The Illyrians after establishing their own state, tried to place Durres under their own dependence. In this struggle, victory favored the state of Taulantes. The Illyrian king Monumes, minted coins in Durres, with his own name in them and made Durres, the Centre of his own state.
    In 229 B.C. Durres was taken by Rome and under Roman rule, the town was called Dyrra – chium, which became starting point of the “Via Egnatia”, linking Rome with the East. If you want to follow via Egnatia from Durres, simply take the road via Kavaja, Elbasan, Qukes to Ohrid. The famous Roman orator, Cicero called Durres “an admirable city….”, while the poet Catullus called it “the Tavern of the Adriatic”. In 1914-1920 Durres became the capital of Albania.

    What to visit
    • The Fortress of the City. The remains of the walls belong to the 5th – 6th centuries, the addition from 13th – 14th Centuries. Ana Comnena, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor, Alexis Comnenius, describing the fortress, writes: “its walls were so thick that 4 horsemen could ride abreast on top of them”. Wars and earthquakes destroyed the fortress.
    • The Amphitheatre is one of the biggest and most exquisite monuments that have survived from the ancient city. It is the largest in the Balkan Peninsula, built in the 2nd century A.D., with a capacity about 20.000 spectators.
    • The Beauty of Durres is the most polychromatic mosaic in the country. You may see it in the national historical museum in Tirana.
    • Roman Thermal baths were discovered in 1962.
    • The Archeological Museum situated near the sea, is rich in objects excavated in Durres. It gives a view on the ancient Dyrrachium.
    • The Fatih Mosque and the Vollga square near the port of Durres is another interest place.

Tell us about your experience..

Name
Email
Review Title
Rating
Review Content

0
Connecting
Please wait...
Send a message

Sorry, we aren't online at the moment. Leave a message.

Your name
* Email
* Describe your issue
Send

Need more help? Save time by starting your support request online.

Your name
* Email
* Describe your issue
We're online!
Feedback

Help us help you better! Feel free to leave us any additional feedback.

How do you rate our support?