Durrësi - the Getaway to another world...
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Durrësi is the second largest city in Albania, the biggest port and the hub of the railroad system. It is one of the most ancient cities in Albania. Known by name of Epidamnus, it was established in the year 627 B.C. by colons coming from Corinth and Corcyra. Later on, the name changed to Durrahium (according to mythology the nephew of Epidamnus). During this period, the city flourished and became the main port of the Eastern Adriatic. Between the 1st and the 3rd centuries, it played a major role as a trading centre along the ancient Egnatia road, which connected Rome with Byzantium.
History. Durrësi developed during the period between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD, becoming a major trading centre and port on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Craftsmanship developed and roads, libraries, aqueducts and odeons were built, including the Amphitheatre. At the end of the 3rd century, Durrës became the centre of the province of New Epirus and in the 4th century, despite the crisis affecting the rest of the Roman Empire, it remained a developed trading centre. During the 5th and 6th centuries, it was an important city in the western part of the Byzantine Empire and withstood the attacks of Ostrogoths and other barbarians. Under the rule of Anastas, who was born in the city, many new buildings sprang up, such as the hippodrome, two surrounding city walls, and the Basilica of Arapajt. Durrës was also an Episcopal centre.
Geographic position. Durrësi lies in a coastal longitude of 30 miles. Being link of marine and terrestrial connections, Durrës has played always an important role in the geopolitical development of the region. Including the surroundings, Durrësi occupies 432 km2 of Albanian territory. In the northeast and east it meets Tirana districts and in the south ic bordered by Kavaja district. The western coast is gets wet by Adriatic sea. The coastal line lies from the embouchure of Ishmi river, till at the stream of Agait, near of Rock of Kavaja.
The relief of Durrësi belongs to the hilly-field kind, 89 m on the sea level, while at the city this level goes to 2 m high. The system of the hills curls from Rodoni cape, till in Durrësi mountain (178 m high).
Climate. Durrësit region belong to the subtropical climate, with soft winter and dry hot sumer. The hottest month is July and the coldest, is January. The nature of the zone is recommended for the family tourist destination, because of the sandy long beach, very suitable for the children. You may use light clothes during all the spring-summer period. For the winter, except the normal winter clothes, don’t forget to take with you the gloves and the cowls because Durrësi is next to the sea and the wind on the winter is very strong.
Culture and ethnography . Durres is a city of early culture on his own ancient origins. The city has inherited many of the past values, historical and archaeological centers like Amphitheater, Byzantine Forum, Venetian Tower, the Perimeter Wall of the Castle, but also cultural and religious center as the ruins of the Basilica in Arapaj, Rodoni castle, etc.. The city today retains full tracks from the later cultures, contributing also to provide international values with personalities like Alexander Moisiu, who was born in Kavaja and grew and formed in Durrës. The city's cultural institutions has been consolidated as example the theater, folk music and dancing ensemble, professional theater, which still gives professional performances to the public, etc. Also in Durres are organized activities at a national and international festival of jazz music, the poetry contest "Poeteka." etc.
The ethnography of Durres, inherits the culture of Middle Albania, where women dress with characteristic clothe called “dimi” and vest, in the head holding a cap decorated with small imitations of coins, while men wear a type of pants called “brekushe”, short woolen jacket woolen black or red vests, and head wear fez with flat top. Also, songs and dances regarding to the culture and traditions of central Albania. Residents of Durres excel as skilled traders, good wool manufacturer of metal and for producing wines that come from the surrounding vineyards
Transport. Durrësi lies 38 km far from Tirana, about 36 km from “Mother Tereza” airport, 126 km from Shkodra, 222 km from Kukësi and 170 km far from custom of the Pass of Thana (Macedonia). In Durrës you may enter from the harbor, which links the country with four coastal cities of Italy, Bari, Brindisi, Ancona dhe Trieste, from the air, through the airport of Rinas “Mother Teresa” and from all the terrestrial points of the customs in Albania (see: How to reach Albania).
Durrësi has one of the oldest harbors in Europe and it is also one of the most important bridges of Balkan Peninsula, which link the East with West.
It has been defined as an entrance for the 8-th Corridor which starts from Albania and goes through Macedonia, Bulgaria and arrives to Varnas harbor in the Black Sea.
Also the harbor is the biggest of the country and overcomes over than 85% of import-export of the Albanian economy and human transport.
The transport in Durrës is private and public. It offers city lines and intercity ones. The station for the interline is located near of railway station, while the urban bus goes through all arteries of the city and surroundings.
Durrësi is also the first city in Albania which has been equipped with railway line. It has been constructed during the second War from the prime minister of the époque Shefqet Vërlaci (according to historic facts) but started to work only in 1947, after some last adjustments made from the government of Enver Hoxha. It was 43 km long and use to connect Durrës with Peqini town.
What to visit
Byzantine wall. Constructed during the emperor Anastasi I (491-518), progeny of Dyrrachium senate. The city was surrounded by a triple wall 3,5 km, 12 m. high and 2-3 m wide. It was ehough to pass through it two-three knights sideward. Also the Illyrian emperor Justiniani (527-565) constructed defending walls during its kingship (Porto Romano),at the north side of the city.
The Byzantine Forum
Situated near of Culture palace, end of the V century B.C. Including Public Thermal baths, it creates an “archaeological ensemble” in the center of the city, being so a landmark for citizens.
The Basilica of Arapaj VI-th B.C. 69x28 m, one of the biggest of the country, composed by three naves, and quaternion work. It is situated 6 km in the east of Durrës, in the beach area.
The Amphitheatre, constructed at the end if I-rst, beginning of II-nd century A.C. One of the biggest monuments of all the ancient period in whole the empire of Rome, the only one in our country. Its ellipse is 120x101 m and the axle of arena 61x42m holds more than 15.000 participants. Its presence is also a landmark for the city.
The Venice Tower
Characteristic building of XV century, round building composed by stone blocks, decorated by architectonic motives of the époque of antiquity, as the figure of the messenger of the divinities, Hermes. The upper castle and the round tower are of the same period.
The tower of Karl Topia.
it is known as the residence of Prince Karl Topia, who gave political autonomy to the city of Durrës. He called himself “Prince of Arbëria” and the Venice use to call him “Lord of Arbëri in the land of coastal city of Durrës”, while the Pope, in 1374, recognizes to him the noble title “Great Count of Arbëria”.
The Turkish Wall
Constructed from the Turkish evaders, in 1501, it is served to exchange the city in a military garrison. Along this wall, is has been constructed even the Clock Tower. Inside of the “Kala” neighborhood, has been also constructed the Medieval Hamam (Turkish steamy bath). Outside of this place, on Varosh, was constructed the well of “Tophana”.
The art of mosaics
It is very present in Durrës, attesting so a long and ancient culture of this art. It is also a professional school about this art in Durrës. If we list some of mosaics, we mention:
“the Beauty of Durrës”, from the second half of IV-rth century B.C., discovered during the Second War from Praschnicher, an Austrian archaeologist. Rediscovered in 1947 by the same coordinates. Today is exposed in the National Historic Museum in Tirana.
Mosaic with “Hipocamp”, near of the square nr 3, discovered in 1947, black and white, belongs to a luxurious building of Roman period. Dated I-st century A.C.
The mosaic of Amphitheater, constructed at the small chapel of this place. Colored mosaic, represents, the saints Stephen, Sophia e Irene, and the laic portrait of the emperor Alexander. There are different opinions about the period.
The mosaic of “Basilica of Arapaj”, colored mosaic with two emblems one of the Eukaristi, and the other Bucolic, with a surface of 54 m2., situated at the side funerary, martyrs, of this basilica. Dated in VI-th century A.C., it is a rare mosaic, based on a high realization of this kind of work.
The museum of Popular Culture
Opend in 1982 in a characteristic Durrësi house of XIX-th century. It has been exposed original objects of handicraft, traditional clothes, works in wool, silk, copper, stone etc.
The museum house of Aleksandër Moisiu. Inaugurated in September 1982. The famous Albanian actor, lived here his childhood during 1884-1889 and frequented the elementary school. In two rooms are exposed his photos and different works of art dedicated to him.
The hall of the War’s relics.
Inaugurated in 1969. Enriched year after year with relics of the Second War (1939-1944), Patriotic Movement of beginning of XX-th century, trophies of the wars, personal objects of the martyrs etc.
The Archaeological Museum
the old museum is inaugurated in March 1951. The ol one, in 13 April 2002. It is national museum, one of the richest in the Balkan Peninsula. Disposes the hall of the ancient époque, prehistory, post byzantine period, with over 2000 objects and is processing to build the hall of Medievalism.
Tourism in nature
The most attractive of all the coastline of Durres is the beach of Currila, with sandy ground, breaking of rocks, which offers beautiful outdoor vacations, sea and pine-tree fragrance and intimate environment, away from noise-populated beaches.
An attractive part is the part of the coast on the beach called Porto Romano. The beach has clean water, broken terrain, interlaced with sand and rocks where the part is interesting that the banks can be visited only by means of water or swimming. We can say that part of the coast of Durres, from the beach of Currila, up to Cape of Rodoni, is the most attractive of all the coastline of Durres and offers fabulous views as closely, as well as looked at from above. These areas can serve not only as a space holiday destinations as well as genuine and walk long excursions that will enrich your vacation adventure.
A very interesting part of the city of Durres, which is the latest discover in the field of tourism. The Ishmi’s area, is located in north of Durres and runs through the Cape of Rodoni. Ishmi is an ancient Illyrian settlement and still retains traces of its ancient origin. It is the newest discovery in family tourism, which offers tranquility and comfort that can not provide noisy beaches of Durres and overcrowded. Nature's full of wonderful greenery, fresh air, and rocky shores. Virgin and bio healthy foods will satisfy you immensely. You will feel at home, and could cook by your own vegetables or meat of animals or birds or order the food according to your wishes at the owner of the guest houses where you can have location.
It is a large plantation of cultivated and natural forest, mainly pine and soft marine pines, but also mixed with other vegetation. Joing the natural preserve of Ishmi and its natural habitat, it creats a complex suitable for vacation, hiking in nature, picnic and camping.
Last year the 22 km of the road from the exit of the Tirana-Durres national road is all paved with asphalt, which means that it’s possible to reach this wonderful natural destination, and it is already very simple.
Lalëzi’s bay is also a giant beach space that is preferred by vacationers who want to spend quiet holiday, away from the noisy area of Durres. The tourism facilities, being developed there, will exchange it in a short time in a genuine tourist destination. If you refer to Blue Line Albanian guide in the sector "family tourism" you can get in touch with home guest and host to visit the area out of the summer season.
Situated at Durresi district, it is a mixed forest area, where the Alnus glutinos), Ulmus campestris and Fraxinus angustifolia dominate. It is artificially planted by Mediterranean pines and the favorable position, next to the lagoon of Bishtaraka and the delta of Erzeni river makes it very important area. It is also because of the winter birds which come here in a very big quantity. The delta of Erzeni river, it’s a very appropriate place for the reproduction of the fishes of sweet waters. The flora is also rich in salty and water places.
Almost an unexplored area for the development of the ecotourism. For more information: