A Tour of Durrës' Archaeological Landmarks

The Venetian Tower of Durrës
The Venetian Tower of Durrës | © kosta korçari / Flickr
Durrës is the second largest city in Albania, after the capital Tirana, and is one of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean. Inhabited since ancient times by Illyrians, Greeks and then Romans, Durrës is home to some of Albania’s most important archaeological sites. Here are some of the best sites to visit.

The Amphitheatre of Durrës

Durrës is a combination of old relics and new masterpieces. One of the greatest archaeological sites of the Balkan Peninsula is located just behind the port of Durrës. We are talking about the Amphitheatre of Durrës, the largest in Albania and the Balkans. In ancient times, it could host almost 20,000 spectators. The amphiteatre was built in 100 AD by Hadrian, but it wasn’t until the 1960s when it was rediscovered. For less than 3€ (the entrance costs only 400 lekë), it is worth a visit. We suggest taking lots of pictures. Near the amphitheater is a plentiful array of colorful and stunning murals. So, don’t forget to save a few extra minutes to look for them and appreciate their unique qualities.

The Tower

Just at the entrance of the town, not far from the port, there is a beautiful Tower known as the Venetian Tower of Durrës, (it is called this because it was reinforced by the Venetians before the Ottomans conquered the town). This monument consists of a single tower and is an extension of the Byzantine Fortress of Durrës. Walking throughout Durrës, you’ll see the ancient walls of the fortress that lead to the amphitheatre. Unfortunately, the tower is located near the street, so it is very hard to admire because of traffic.

#enjoyalbania Roman Ampitheatre Durres, Albania The Amphitheatre of Durrës, dating back from the beginning of the 2nd century, was discovered only in the 1960s. It is located in the very centre of the city, known in antiquity by the name of Epidamnos or Dyrrachium. It is one of the most remarkable heritage sites not only in Albania but in the whole Balkan region. The Amphitheatre of Durrës, with a capacity for 15.000 to 20.000 spectators, was in use for more than three centuries. There is no precise information regarding the cause of interruption of its activities. This could have been caused by a devastating earthquake (345-346 AD) or an edict of the Emperor Theodosius ordering the closing of all pagan centres (391 AD). Later, the amphitheatre was used for Christian religious events, as testified, for instance, by a graceful early Christian chapel. The experts have identified a variety of threats to this monument, ranging from water percolation, erosion, inadequate city planning, neglect and inadequate conservation and maintenance to lack of both financial resources and public awareness. There are a few interesting joint research projects in action, particularly with Italian counterparts, however more appropriate measures of research and conservation need to be implemented. Given its outstanding importance and its exceptional stature and beauty, the amphitheatre already attracts numerous tourists. The Association for Development of Cultural Tourism, which has made the nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme, is confident that the renovation and preservation of the site will have a big impact on the revitalization of the entire city, thus putting Durrës back on the map of historic sites in Europe. 📍 📍 #travel #travelling #toptags #vacation #visiting #traveler #instatravel #instago #wanderlust #trip #holiday #photooftheday #lifeofadventure #doyoutravel #tourism #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport #allaroundtheworld #mytravel #travelpic #globetrotter #travelguru #placestovisit #travelinspiration #travelphotoblog #travelpics #world_shotz #dreamspots #exquisiteearth

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The Byzantine Forum

Walking through the city centre of Durrës, near the Aleksander Moisiu Theatre, you will be able to admire a bathhouse that dates back to the second century A.D. and a Byzantine forum of the fifth and sixth centuries with gorgeous marble columns. The forum was most likely built at the time of the Roman Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus, who reconstructed the city’s defenses. Nestled between modern buildings, this forum was the traditional centre of old Dyrrachium, and today it is an interesting place to visit.

The Archaeological Museum

If you haven’t had enough history, the Archaeological Museum of Durrës is a must-stop along this archaeological tour. Just a few steps from the sea, the museum is very important to the preservation of historic relics in the Balkan Peninsula, and it is the largest museum in Albania. It houses several artifacts that were found in the area, as well as mosaics, miniature busts of Venus, funerary steles and stone sarcophagi.