A walk along Albanian territory. Running from north to south, the visitor may experience so many things inside a small country, as Albania is. If you are looking for an active holiday, you will find plenty of things to do. Through this pocket brochure we offer you 10 suggested itineraries to choose from. There are a different attraction including mountains treks, deep valleys, national parks, lakes, archaeological sites, museum cities, castles, coastline and much more. A visit in our country means that you’ll return home relaxed and energized at the same time. Welcome and enjoy your stay!
TOUR 1Saranda rule, Saranda was called by itsSaranda, or “the south Alba- ancient Greek name, “Onches-nian seaport” is located on a mos”, which was the name ofnatural shelf facing the island the father of the Trojan princeof Corfu. There are daily ships Aeneas, who was born at thethat depart, connecting Sara- Mount Ida by the Greek God-nda with this Greek island. Sa- dess Aphrodite. The city lies atranda’s name originates from the southern tip of Albania’san old Christian monastery Ionian coastline and has a veryof “the Forty Saints” (Saranda pleasant avenue, full of palmsmeans “forty” in Greek). The and pebbled beaches. In theruins of the monastery lay in center of the city stands theQafa e Gjashtës, near the city ruins of the ancient city of On-entrance. Prior to Byzantine hezmi, destroyed in the fifth
century A.D. by barbarian in- changes its appearance. Fourvasions. In 2002, a synagogue small islands emerge in thewas uncovered in the same Ksamili area, covered by Medi-area. Just 2 km south of Sara- terranean vegetation and sur-nda, on the top of a dominat- rounded by wonderful marineing hill, is the Castle of Lëkurs. flora and fauna. A salt lake,The castle was built by the Sul- which is a lagoon of tectonictan Suleiman during his mili- origin near Butrint lies inland.tary campaign against Corfu. In antiquity it was known byToday a restaurant sits in the name Pelodes and it connectsfortress, offering a rich cuisine with the sea through the cha-and breathtaking views of the nnel of Vivar, 3.6 km in length.deep blue of the Ionian Sea. A large number of sea birdsHeading south, the coastline nest there.
TOUR 1Butrinti presence of the Trojan princeSouth of Burtint Lake, 18 km Aeneas during his travel tofrom Saranda, sits the ancient the temple of Dodona. Hecity of Butrint, the most im- paid tribute to the oracle ofportant archaeological site in Dodona by sacrificing a bullAlbania, and a UNESCO World (Buthros in Greek) in the placeHeritage Site. The name of where the city of Butrint be-Butrint has been wellknown gan to rise. The Roman poetsince the seventh century B.C. Virgil also mentions the visit ofas the most important city of Aeneas to Butrint in his poemEpirus. According to Dionysius “The Aeneid”.of Halicarnassus, the building There are many destinationsof Butrint was linked to the to visit within Butrint.
The Archaeological Park of ButrintiThe most interesting ones are the Venetian fortress of Ali Pa-the Temple of Asclepius, a sec- sha, and many others.ond century B.C. God of good Besides its historical value,health; a 1,500-seat theatre Butrint is renowned for itsfrom the third century B.C. marvelous ecological system.(which now hosts the Interna- The ruins and the buildings oftional Theatre Festival every the city stand amidst an amaz-September); the Baptismal, a ing subtropical jungle, withpaleocristian monument; as lots of laurel and other highwell as the nymfeu, the baths, woods.the stoa (covered walkway),the Lake Gate, the Lion Gate, 7
TOUR 1Gjirokastra just 10 km away from Saranda,As you leave Saranda, the na- you will find Finiqi, the capi-tional highway will lead you to tal of the Kingdom of Epirusthe unique city of Gjirokastra, (and named Foinike at theonly 56 km away. On the way, time), which was founded in the third and second centuries
B.C. in the territory of Kaonia. during the Byzantine period.The historian Polybus called One of the most pleasant sur-it “the most rich and fortified prises along this journey is Syricity of Epirus”. Southwest of i Kaltër (the “Blue Eye”), a pow-Finiq in the hilltop village of erful natural spring that hasMesopotam, you can also visit created a small lake of crystal-the Church of Shën Kolli, built clear water that looks like a gi- ant human eye. The specialty of the nearby restaurant is the lake trout.
TOUR 1 Past Qafa e Muzinës runs the stone, which resemble small national Gjirokastër-Kakavijë fortresses that form a complex highway. As you leave the vi- of architectural monuments. llages of Dropulli on your left, Due to its architectural value, the museum-city of Gjirokas- Gjirokastra is a UNESCO World tra unfolds in front of you, Heritage Site. built at the eastern slope of The main object is the city for- Mali i Gjerë. Due to its archi- tress, called Fortress of Argjiro. tecture, Gjirokastra is also (The renowned story of the known as the “City of Stone” famous princess Argjiro gave or “City of a Thousand Stairs”. rise to the name “Argjirokas- It is an ancient city with early tro” given to the city in 1336.) inhabitants, above which was The Weapons Museum located later constructed a fortress inside of the fortress displays that served as the center of weapons from the Paleolithic the city. What most attract period up until the Second visitors to Gjirokastra are the World War. During your stay in traditional tall houses made of Gjirokastra you also can visit10
the Ethnographic Museum. (market), and the stoa of theGjirokastra is famous for its city, which are 59 m long andfood specialties such as shap- 9 m wide. It’s worth mention-kat, laropit, different kinds of ing that in the area archaeolo-pies (byrek), and several dairy gists discovered a seven-inchproducts known all over Alba- bronze statue representingnia. Poseidon, God of the sea, andThere are some more inter- the Sphinx of Antigonea. Bothesting objects and places you objects are displayed in themight visit, the Theatre of Sof- National History Museum inratika, the ancient city of An- Tirana.tigonea, the Tekke of Melan, Only 4 km south of small city ofand the village of Sotira. The Libovoha, the Tekke of MelanTheatre of Sofratika, belonging is to be found. This religiousto the Roman city Adrianopoli object of the Bektashi sect isfrom the second century A.D., open to everyone and guestsheld 4,000 spectators in 27 are welcome and treated withtiers. Antigonea is nowadays a special hospitality.an archaeological park situ- The village of Sotira is locatedated in the Lunxhëri area, east in the region of Dropulli, pop-of Gjirokastra, close to the vil- ulated by a Greek minority. Itlage of Saraqinisht. Antigonea is a mountain village of a rareis an ancient city of the sec- beauty with little stone hous-ond century B.C. It is thought es surrounded by the fir for-that the city was founded by est of Sotira and lots of waterKing Pyrrhus of Epirus who springs. The region of Dropull,named the city after his wife is known all over Albania forAntigonea. The city was 35 its fine women’s’ folk costumeshectares in size; its ruins are lo- and their elegance dances.cated on a hill at 600 m above The Iso-polyphonic group ofsea level. Tourists can visit the Gjirokastraremains and fragments of thesurrounding wall, the agora 11
TOUR 2 Vlora (in the headquarters building Vlora is one of the largest, most of the first government), the populous cities in Albania. It is History Museum, and the Eth- 130 km from the capital , 120 nographic Museum. km from Mother Teresa Inter- Among the religious objects national Airport and is home in Vlora, one of the most im- to the second largest port in portant is the Mosque of Mu- Albania. radie, built in 1542 by the chief Vlora is rich with history and architect of the Ottoman Em- antiquity. This historic city pire, Mimar Sinani, who was dates back to the sixth century originally from the region. B.C., when it was known as He is the constructor of the Aulona. Fragments of the mas- famous Suleymanye Mosque sive wall surrounding Aulona in Istanbul and also in other have been found in the center cities in Turkey such as Edirne of the city, close to Sheshi i Fla- (Selymie Mosque), Erzurum murit (“Flag Square”). In 1081, and others. Also, a prominent the city fell under Norman do- hill above the city is home to minion. In the 14th century it the Bektashi Tekke of Kuzum was part of the “Kingdom of Babai. The site offers an amaz- Arbëria” ruled by the Balshaj, ing view of the city of Vlora, Albanian princes, until 1417 the peninsula of Karaburun, when the city was invaded by the island of Sazan and the la- the Ottomans. In 1812, the city goon of Narta. There are also came under the control of Ali several interesting clubs and Pashë Tepelena, and one cen- restaurants in the city of Vlora. tury later, on November 28, 1912, it became the first capi- tal of an independent Albania, ruled by the government of Ismail Qemali. The most inter- esting sights in Vlora include the Independence Museum14
TOUR 2Narta fers the picturesque view ofNorth of the city of Vlora is the the village of Zvërneci and oflagoon of Narta, the second the nearby island, which hostsbiggest lagoon in Albania. the Byzantine-style ChurchThere are 195 species of wa- and the Monastery of Saintterfowl living in the area, and Mary. The lagoon ends withMediterranean woods cover the Cape of Treporti, whichthe tract of land dividing the joins the forest-covered hilllagoon from the sea. It’s a to form a beautiful natural en-good place to observe the semble.seabirds or to fish. The wateris full of different kinds of fish, Radhimaespecially eels and bass. Continuing the journey south-The village of Narta stands ward, you will be able to seesouth of the lagoon on the wa- and enjoy the panoramic viewter’s edge, and is surrounded of this part of the Gulf of Vlora.by low hills covered with vine- After passing through the tun-yards that are used to make nel in the area known as Uji ione of the best artisanal wines Ftohtë (“Cold Water”, namedin Albania. The lagoon also of- after a nearby mountain
stream that flows into the sea),you will see the tourist area ofJonufër, with its small rockybeaches well known for theircrystal-clear waters. BeyondJonufri lies Rradhima, whichcontinues for several kilome-ters up to the Dukati stream,near the small city of Orikumi.The beaches in Rradhima havebeautiful colors, with vividcontrasts between the deepblue of the sea and the greenhills, with their Mediterraneanolive and citrus plantations.The Gulf of Vlora is also theperfect place to go diving. ian-Greek war. You might alsoThere are several sunken ships want to dive into the waters oflike “PO”, the Italian ship that Zhiron to observe the greensank in 1941 during the Ital- and black algae.
TOUR 2Orikumi of Orikum took the holy nameThe small city of Orikum lies on “Jerico”. This is because of thethe southern end of the Gulf of presence of a Jewish commu-Vlora, near a marina that can nity in the bay of Vlora. Duringberth 650 yachts. Orikum was the Ottoman occupation, Ori-one of the most important kum took the name of “Pashacities in the ancient world; Liman”.the settlers from the island of The most important archaeo-Eubea founded it during their logical object is the antiqueretreat from the Trojan War. theater of Orikum, with 400-Orikum’s strategic position 500 seats. Another notableturned it into the main port local site is the Church ofof the Illyrian Amant clan and Marmiroi, from the Byzantineit played an important role in period.the civil wars between Caesar Orikum is a good start point ifand Pompey. During the Byz- you want to explore the pen-antine period, the small port insula of Karaburun, which
encloses the western part ofthe Gulf of Vlora. The westernshore of Karaburun is spectac-ular, with small gulfs and iso-lated beaches with deep andclear water. The marine Caveof Haxhi Alia (a 17th centurysailor from Ulqin) lies northof the peninsula. Antiquewritings have been found inthe steep slopes close to thebeach of Grame (the namederives from the Greek wordGramata). In this place wassupposed to be the ancienttemple of Ledea, a Pelasgianprincess. The Marmiroi church
TOUR 2Amantia of 13 hectares. The most inter-The ruins of the antique city of esting objects for visitors areAmantia stand south-east of the antique Stadium of Aman-the Vlora District, close to the tia, 60 m long and 12.5 m wide,village of Plloçë. Amantia was and the fortifications.declared an archaeologicalpark in 2005. It was the capitalcity of the Illyrian amant tribe.It was founded in the fifth cen-tury B.C. and covered an area
Apollonia important, as it served as aFier is 34 km from Vlora, and middleman for trade betweenApollonia is 12 km from Fier. the Illyrians and the HellenesThe city of Apollonia, named (Greeks). The city remainedfor the Greek God Apollo, was equally prominent during thefounded in the beginning of Roman period; Octavian Au-the seventh century B.C. by gustus studied oratory here.Corinthian settlers. The first The vast area covered by mon-documentation of the settlers’ uments, the wonderful viewpresence dates back to 588 of the plain of Myzeqe andB.C. the Adriatic sea, its proximityThe city, located in proximity to big cities and the southernto the Aoos (Vjosa) River, had beaches, make Apollonia Ar-60000 inhabitants, a large city chaeological Park a very im-for its time. Among 24 cities portant site for cultural tour-in the ancient Mediterranean ism and easily reachable forworld with the same name, Il- visitors.lyrian Apollonia was the most The Monastery of St. Mary 21
TOUR 3 Llogara The park is also home to sev- The Llogara National Park lies eral animal species. approximately 40 km south of After 20 minutes of driving the city of Vlora. It is situated along the National Highway, on the slopes of the Llogara you will enter the Albanian Mountain and covers a sur- Riviera. Here, you can stay face area of 810 hectares, with overnight in the park and en- elevations ranging from 470 joy the restaurants, contem- to 2018 m above sea level. The porary clubs, activities and ex- park combines the beauties cursions. It is also a great place of a mountain with a seaside to enjoy aerial sports as it is climate. You can enjoy part of known for international aerial its magical beauty while trav- sports events like parachuting eling along the Vlorë-Sarandë and hang-gliding. National Highway at Qafa e Llogarasë, 1025 m above sea Palasa level. Here, medicinal and dec- After passing Qafa e Llogarasë orative plants are interspersed on a road that dates back to within a forest of pine trees. the time of Pompey, you de- scend into the Albanian Rivi- era. This warm Mediterranean zone has nearly 300 sunny days a year, and the average temperature in July is 25°C (77° Fahrenheit). The list of places to visit begins with the beach of Dhraleo (Palasë) known for its clear waters. Pompey and his army stopped at this beach in ancient times, when it was known as Palestra.24
TOUR 3 Dhërmiu Church of Shën Todhri, the Dhërmiu is famous for its crys- Church of the Ipapandia and tal-clear waters, and small, in- the Church of Shën Mitri with timate pebble beaches like Ja- its frescos from the 12th -14th liksari, Shkambo, and Gjipea. centuries. Situated at the foot of a 70 m The main entertainment op- cliff, Gjipea is a rare beauty. tions in Dhërmiu are swim- Close to Dhërmiu is the leg- ming, water sports, and diving. endary Cavern of the Pirates. There are many hotels, res- Dhërmiu is a picturesque vil- taurants, pubs, discotheques. lage thought to have first The restaurants combine tra- been inhabited in 49-48 B.C. ditional and foreign cuisines, The village is home to the and serve many seafood spe- Monastery of Shën Maria, the cialties.26
Vunoi Here you can visit old church-Eight km south of Dhërmiu es like the Church of Shënis the village of Vunoi, well Spiridhoni, built in 1778, andknown for its traditions and the Church of Mesodhia withpatriotism. From here, follow paintings from 1783. There arethe road to the wonderful also several architectural land-beach of Jala, whose gulf is marks such as the ruins of thedistinctive from those in the House of Odise Kasneci andrest of the Riviera. Vunoi is the tower like House of Shanebuilt on a hill facing the sea. Kote. 27
TOUR 3 Himara Palermo. The castle was built Continuing your tour towards in the shape of a triangle and the south, you will come across has 20 m high walls. Ali Pasha the small city of Himara, which dedicated this castle to his has two neighborhoods: Old wife, Vasiliqia. It is said that it Himara built on the hill, and was built on top of the ruins New Himara in the gulf of of an ancient castle. Himara is Spille. Himara has four beach- particularly noted for its tradi- es: Filikuri, Spille, Llamani, tional Albanian iso-polyphon- Potami and Livadhet. They are ic songs (part of UNESCO oral all gravel beaches with deep, art patrimony). clear waters. The city comes to life during the summer tourist season, when visitors take up residence in the hotels or in rented houses. Himara is the ancient resi- dence and city of the Illyrian Kaon clan. It was settled in the fifth century B.C. and its name is of Pellazgë (pre-Illyr- ian) origin. There are several religious sites to visit such as the Church of Shën Maria e Athalit, the Church of Cassio- peia, the Church of All Saints, and the House of Lilo Llazari, which has been turned into a cultural monument. Another site to visit is the Castle of Ali Pashë Tepelena, built on a small peninsula in the tectonic gulf of Porto28
TOUR 3 Qeparoi The village of Qeparoi is lo- cated close to the gulf of Porto Palermo and has its own dis- tinctive beach. Old Qeparoi, built on the hillside, has sev- eral historical sights including the three-story Towers of Ali Pasha, the Monastery of Shën Dhimitri, and the House of The Saint Mary Church, Minella Gjika. Qeparo30
BorshiThe village of Borshi is situ-ated a few hundred metersaway from the shore, about20 minutes from Himara. It isthe largest beach of the Alba-nian Riviera and its clear wa-ter stretches for almost 6 km.Several hotels, clubs, disco-theques, and restaurants arebuilt along the length of thebeach. The hospitality of thevillagers and the traditionaldish of grilled lamb are distinc-tive features found in Borshi.The Sopoti castle, Borshi
TOUR 3 Lukova flows directly into the Ionian The last seaside village on the Sea. South of Lukova towards Albanian Riviera is the village the Gulf of Kakome are sev- of Lukova, which is well known eral kilometers of coastline for its terraces of citrus and ol- characterized by its gleaming ives. Two km further you will white flint stones. You also can find the popular Buneci Beach find a number of underwater whose crystal-clear stream caves in this area.32
TOUR 4Shkodra served as the municipal cen-Shkodra is one of the oldest ter of the Bushatllinj Pashallëkcities in Albania, founded in from 1757 to 1831. Shkodra isthe fourth century B.C. as the rich with cultural Heritage, thecenter of the Labeat tribe of city itself as well as the peopleIllyrians. Throughout history bear the pride that the largeShkodra has been occupied number of artists, musicians,several times: first by the Ro- painters, photographers, po-mans (168 B.C.), then Serbians ets and writers born here(1040), the Venetians (1396), strove to create.and finally the Ottomans Shkodra’s main tourist attrac-(1479). The city returned to tion is Rozafa Castle. RisingAlbanian control as the feu- majestically upon a rocky hilldal principality of the Balshaj west of the city, the outcrop-during the 14th century and pings and battlements paint
a blazing picture against the tirelessly by day laying mortarsetting sun. It is surrounded and stone but the walls alwaysby the waters of three rivers; crumbled overnight. Consult-the Drini, Buna, and Kiri. Much ing a wise man they learnedlike the town it protected, the that to expel the evil tearingcastle has Illyrian origins. Ac- at their daily work and protectcording to the historian Tit their friends and family with aLiri “it was the strongest area strong castle that would lastof the Labeats”. Like all ancient through the ages, one of theirworks, the castle comes with a wives needed to be entombedpopular local legend. Rozafa within the walls. The brotherswas the name of the bride of made a heart wrenching pactthe youngest of three broth- not to alert their wives to thisers who originally built the danger, and whoever broughtcastle. The three men worked her husband his noon meal the
TOUR 4 following day, she would be water flowing at the entrance sacrificed. The elder brothers of the castle is the milk flowing broke their word however, and from one of her breasts, which it was Rozafa alone who came she requested be left exposed with food. When she heard the so that she could feed her proclamation, she wept for her baby. She also pleaded for one newborn son and husband, foot and one arm to be left but allowed herself to become free, in order to rock her son’s a living part of the walls so cradle at night and sooth him that the castle could be built. during the day. According to both legend and Historians tell us a less en- local folklore, the calcareous chanting and more scientific background of the castle’s characteristics. It reflects the dominion of the Balshaj fami- ly, but passed through enough other ruling periods that each left their own signs and mark- ings on the grounds, including a distinct Venetian flare, some Ottoman architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries, and even a few modifications from the Bushatllinj family during the 18th and 19th centuries. Within the castle walls is a mu- seum that a discerning lover of antiquities could spend a comfortable afternoon read- ing more of the history, and a restaurant has been added to showcase local food and tradi- tional dress.36
TOUR 4 In addition to the castle, you might also want to visit other notable landmarks, such as the city’s History Museum, near the stadium and the re- nowned Marubi Fototekë. The Historic Museum (The former house of Oso Kuka) The Mesi Bridge38
Close to the city lies the Lake on the shoreline. Famous forShkodra, the biggest lake in their fishing skills, each vil-all the Balkans with its surface lage hosts restaurants servingarea of 368 km2 (149 of which the most popular local dish,are Albanian waters). The lake is baked carp. Every 15th of Au-notable for its different banks: gust the Catholic pilgrimagethe southern bank is high and of Shën Rrok, or Saint Rocco,rocky while the northern one is is observed in Shiroka to cel-low and marshy. For a leisurely ebrate the historic protector ofcyclist or driver, two main the town. Tradition holds thattourist centers are the towns after this date it is ill advised toof Shiroka and Zogaj located swim in the lake’s waters. 39
TOUR 4 The Lake Shkodra enjoys warm temperatures, absorb- ing sunlight most days during the year. Swimming, sunbath- ing and rowing are popular for both tourists and locals. Be- sides these amusements the lake constitutes a very impor- tant natural ecosystem with 281 species of birds and 45 species of fish including carp, The Shkodra Lake eel and shtojza.40
The beach of Velipoja is only22 km away from the city ofShkodra. The long shorelineis famous for its therapeu-tic sand. Possessing unusu-ally high iodine content, manypeople have taken to bury-ing themselves in it to relievebodily aches and pains. Be-sides swimming and fishing,the surrounding scenery of-fers many interesting naturalobjects worth seeing, such asthe small island of Franc Jo-seph positioned at the mouthof the Buna River, close to theMontenegro border. 41
TOUR 4 Lezha derbeg is here, the ex-Cathe- 47 kilometers south of Shkodra dral of Shën Kolli, where he the city of Lezha is to be found. was buried in 1468. The Castle Another of Albania’s ancient of Lezha, another Illyrian mon- cities, it was first mentioned ument, sits on a hilltop over- in historical documents by the looking the city below. Inside name Lissus. In 1398, after the the castle, ruins of an Ottoman construction of its castle, the mosque, a Roman Arch, and an city was under direct control Illyrian Tower all rest together of the feudal family of Lekë for the ages. Dukagjini, but was eventually Only a few minutes from the conquered by soldiers from city there is the sandy beach of Venice. One of the most im- Shëngjini at the foot of Mount portant historical events for Renci. The sunny beach com- Lezha, and indeed for all of Al- munity of Shëngjini boasts bania, was the famed “Assem- a long and colorful history, bly of Lezha” on March 2nd, known as both “Cesarean” and 1444 where under the leader- “Nympheum” in past centuries. ship of national hero Skander- It was here that the Roman beg the Albanian princedoms general Marcus Aurelius em- united against the Ottomans. barked with his fleet in order The Memorial Grave of Skan- to chase Pompey, during the civil war he and Julius Cesarius engaged in. The mouth of the Drini River is located nearby, providing an amazing Ecosys- tem becoming more and more of a key attraction for interna- tional Ecco-tourism. The Monumental Tomb of National Hero, Gjergj Kastrioti - Scanderbeg42
TOUR 4 Also in the neighborhood is land of Kune, which turns into the Kune-Vain National Park. a peninsula depending on the With approximately 70 species water level. With 227 different of birds, 22 species of reptiles, kinds of plants growing on the 6 species of amphibians, and island, Kune’s dense vegeta- 13 species of mammals, it is tion provides nesting grounds a wide and diverse protected for many birds, and conse- habitat. One of the most pleas- quently, many bird-watchers. ant surprises is the sandy is-44
TOUR 5 Kosova Montenegro Valbona Dragobi ShoshanRrogami Bajram Curri Fierza Bajram Curri - Shoshan 3km Shoshan - Dragobi 9km Dragobi - Valbona 10km Valbona - Rrogami 10km 45
TOUR 5 Valbona Bajram Curri. Before enter- The Valbona River Valley lies ing the valley you will find the in the eastern part of the Alba- spring (vrellen) of Shoshan. It nian Alps. A national park of is located only 3 km away from 8,000 hectares, it is one of the Bajram Curri. This spring rush- most beautiful natural areas es through limestone fissures in Albania. The park lies about on its way to the Valbona River 22 km from the alpine city of creating an attractive canyon46
2-3 m wide and 50 m deep. the Cerremi stream joins theAfter entering the valley, you Valbona River, is the famouswill pass several picturesque cave where the national herovillages. The first, with alpine Bajram Curri was besiegedstyle houses, is called Drago- and killed. The city than tookbia, and it is where the valley his name. Valbona (or Selimaj)narrows. Past Dragobia, at the is located 25 km away fromfoot of a the mountain where the city of Bajram Curri and is the most important inhabited center of the valley. It is full of traditional houses that create a picturesque view in symme- try with the natural wonders of the valley, which widens again at this point. 47
TOUR 5 In Selimaj, there is a comfort- served with local honey), and able and traditional hotel, or pitja. you may have the opportunity Beyond Selimaj, the road to stay at a village home, for continues through the val- the inhabitants’ generosity and ley among marvelous views hospitality are well known. The of nature with rich colors of zone is also known for its char- both springtime and of the acteristic regional cooking, snow that covers the peaks with specialties such as mazja, of the craggy mountains. flija, (a many layered pancake- The final village before you like dish cooked outdoors over arrive at the source of the open coals and steamed, often Valbona River is Rrogam.48
Rrogam is a remote villagesurrounded by virgin andintact nature. The whole val-ley has such rare colors andbeauty that one may think adivine hand made it. On oneside, you see the crystal-clearwaters of the Valbona, and onthe other the sharp but ver-dant mountain edges. Up untilMay you can enjoy the con-trast of the clean white snowon the treetops against theblue sky. The flora of the na-tional park includes a varietyof plants and trees, the mostwide-spread groves of whichare the Hormoq tree. The restconsists of beech woods,arnen, walnuts, chestnuts, andwild apple trees. There arealso many forest fruits such asblueberries and strawberries.The animals in the park in-clude bears, wolves, wildcats, and even herds of wildgoats climbing on the rocks.Down in the river there is the“marble trout”, a rare fishfound in the crystal-clear wa-ters of the Valbona with anspecial and exquisite taste.
TOUR 5 The valley, the park, and all the fishing, excursions and trek- surroundings are known for king throughout the valley heavy snowfall, which starts and streams (Cerremi, Kukaj), in early November and lasts and canoeing along certain almost until May. The average parts of the river. Valbona may amount of snow in this region also serve as a starting point if during the year is 100 cm. you wish to climb the Jezerca There are lots of outdoor activ- Mountain, the second highest ities in the national park, such mountain in Albania. as skiing, mountain climbing,50
TOUR 6 VermoshiMontenegro Tamara Boga Thethi RazmaShkodra - Razma 41km Razma - Boga 33kmBoga - Thethi 17km Shkodra - Vermoshi 95km 51
TOUR 6 Razma tales of our majestic mystery An alpine tour of Albania isn’t and intrigue. This tour gives complete without a stop in you the rare chance to enjoy the famed Western Alps, or Al- the heart of the Albanian Alps, pet Perëndimore. Here you will Gropa e Thethit. enjoy something unique: walk, The journey begins from the breath, sleep and eat amidst cultural capital of Shkodra and the legends dating from wanders 41 km away to the Homer and through modern village of Razma. Situated on a blackberry hill at the feet of the Veleçik Mountain, Razma stands amid lush forests of pine and birch trees. Mead- ows and amazing alpine pas- tures abound, drenching any visitor with a keen eye in the beauty of the Balkans. Even in the depths of winter when the snow drifts to its highest level of the season, adventure tour- ists visit Razma. Several hotels already exist and others are being completed. Common activities on the excursions are mountain climbing, ski- ing, and weather permitting, camping.52
Boga famous caves, visitors oftenThe road turns from Razma delve into the Cave of Mullirito the village of Dedaj and (“Mill”), Akullore (“Ice Cream”),then onto Boga, a village sur- and Njerëzve të lagun (“Wetrounded by the Alps and de- People”). The Cave of Puci isscribed by Edith Durham in one of the most attractive,her book “The Burden of the situated 1,087 m above seaBalkans”. It is here that the level, 5 km deep and rich inwealthy families of Shkodra, stalactites, stalagmites, andbefore the Second World War wall veils, this cave branchesbuilt their houses and villas to into many different levels, fiverest and escape the city. Boga alone are at the center. Pass-is the perfect place for moun- ing through its curved galler-tain climbing, skiing, and cave ies you can walk into with thespelunking. Among the most next Cave of Husi. 53
TOUR 6Thethi ready, full of long views fromAfter Boga, you can find one the mountains, with waterof the most popular tour- battling down craggily hill-ist spot of the entire area, sides and trees struggling forThethi. Located 70 km. from sunlight on rocky slopes.Shkodra you must pass Qafa The area is rich in attractivee Tërthores at 2,000 m. above sights like the waterfall ofsea level before descending Grunas, 30 m high, the amaz-to Gropa e Thethit by cross- ing cold-water sources of Okoling a stream bearing the same and the caves of “Birrat mename. It is a journey camera rrathë” (“Round Holes”) and Arapi. In the park people often amuse themselves by hiking, mountain climbing, skiing (es- pecially on the eastern slope),
fishing, even mountain biking Theth marble trout make theirand spelunking. Almost 90 home. While in Theth you canpercent of the park area is cov- stay in local hostels designedered by beech tress, providing to display traditional alpineshade for many different types architecture. The character-of flowers such as the Wulfe- istic dish of the area is fërlikunia Baldacci discovered by the (baked meat) or sample one ofItalian botanist Baldacci. Fas- a large varieties of local trout.cinatingly, this flower is found If time permits, many travelersonly in Theth. The fauna is enjoy a short excursion to thejust as rich as the flora, distin- valley of the Shalë River whichguished by the famed Golden brings them close to the heartEagle and rriqebulli (lynx lynx). of the Alps.In the waters of the Stream of
Vermoshi Cemi River create a beautifulAnother interesting spot of the contrast with the surroundingWestern Alps is Vermosh, part landscape. During summerof the northern-most moun- the ponds of the river are per-tains of the country located 95 fect for sunbathing and manykm from Shkodra in the region visitors stop to lounge in theof Kelmendi (named from the sun and enjoy themselves.Roman word “Clemens”, mean-ing gentle, simple, and good). Wulfenia BaldacciThe first thing to catch theeye along the journey is Qafae Rrapshit where you can seethe crystal-clear waters of the 57
TOUR 6 Vermoshi stands in an alpine ucts, so be sure to indulge. field 1,100 m above sea level The full journey among the surrounded by high slopes. people of this Albanian re- You can entertain yourself by gion will give you not only the trekking, mountain climbing, chance to live between a myth- skiing, or fishing for moun- ical atmosphere and the con- tain trout. The locals pride temporary world, but will also themselves that their cui- let you enjoy the renowned sine is only truly enjoyable hospitality mentioned by al- for visitors when accented most every foreigner who has by their own dairy prod- been fortunate enough to visit.58
TOUR 7 Lini F. Y. R. of Macedonia Stenje Tushemishti Pogradeci Gorica Driloni Kapshtica Voskopoja Korça Vithkuqi Boboshtica Dardha GreeceLini - Pogradeci 25km Pogradeci - Korça 41kmKorça - Voskopoja 24km Korça - Dardha 20kmKorça - Vithkuqi 27km 59
TOUR 7 Pogradeci artwork exhibits an amazing You enter the region of ensemble of zoomorphic, flo- Pogradeci via the national ral, and geometric decorations highway where the road from resembling those of ancient Macedonia crosses Qafa e Durrësi. Thanës. This crossroad offers The road to Pogradeci passes picturesque views of Lake along the shore of the tecton- Ohrid, a true pearl “shelled” ic Lake Ohrid, the deepest lake between Mali i Thatë (“Dry in the Balkans (285 m). This 2-4 Mountain”) in the east and the million-year-old lake (under Mokra highland in the west. A UNESCO protection due to its little ways down, you might unique value) houses 17 spe- stop at the Lini peninsula and cies of aquatic animal, 70% in the like named village, 25 of which are native and 30% km outside of Pogradeci. It is migrant. The sponge of Ohrid said that in ancient times, this is found only here and in Lake was the favorite holiday desti- Baikal. nation of the Roman emperor By the lake side you will find Justinian’s parents. In addition an array of restaurants, clubs to the enchanting views are and comfortable hotels. You the mosaics of the Bazilika e must not miss a taste of the Linit, dating back to the 7th- traditional fish dishes, espe- 6th centuries B.C. This ancient cially the baked speckled trout60
(Koran in Albanian), as well as self to year-round visits.the famous pickles and kol-lofacet. You might also samplethe various wines on offer,but don’t miss the traditionalunique wine of Buti, or the fa-mous Perla and Moskat raki ofPogradec.The city of Pogradec was set-tled in the Neolithic period,and it later became home tothe Illyrian Enkelejdë and De-saretë clans, who built the Cas-tle of Pogradeci on a hill at 870m above sea level. The city,with its mild climate, lends it- The Basilica of Lini 61
TOUR 7 Before leaving Pogradeci don’t miss Driloni and Tushemishti, just 4-5 km south of the city. The Driloni source waters form a small lake, surrounded by beautiful greenery that makes the area and the nearby vil- lage of Tushemishti a unique oasis of beauty and tranquil- ity. The region of Pogradeci is rich in striking and distinctive natural and historical monu- ments. You might visit the natural monument of “Stone of Kamje”, which is located in the commune of Dardhas (on the way from Pogradeci62
to Korça, near the village ofOsnati). It is 70 meters highand suddenly rises out of thesurrounding terrain like a “shipsailing in a sea of green.” Thearchaeological site and Monu-mental Graves of Selca lies 30km away from Pogradeci. Themonuments here date backto the 4th century BC and thefive rocky monumental gravesare rarely found elsewhere inthe Balkans. The Monumental Graves of Selca e Poshtëme The water sources of Driloni 63
TOUR 7 Korça In 1887, the first Albanian The next surprise after the school opened in Korça. Dur- exceptional city of Pogradeci ing the First World War, the is the city of Korça, one of the French invaded the city and biggest urban centers in Alba- it became the “Autonomous nia. During springtime the soft Region of Korça.” In 1917 the fragrance of sturgeon flowers French Lyceum (one of the fills the main avenue, while most notable schools in Al- during winter you can enjoy bania) opened. Besides its a quiet stroll under the snow- history, Korça’s traditional dusted trees. architecture with its villa-like houses encircled by banisters64
and flowery gardens attract and the Museum of the Bratkoattention. The zone between Collection, opened in 2003Republika and Shën Gjergji and displaying art objectsboulevards is very interesting: from the Far East.here, housed in two traditionalKorça buildings are the Medi- The house museumeval Art Museum and the Pre- of the wellknown painterhistoric Museum, displaying Vangjushnearly 1200 artifacts from the MioPrehistoric, Hellenic, Romanand early-Byzantine eras.Another object of interest isthe Museum-house of themaster artist Vangjush Mio, 65
TOUR 7 You might want to visit also City, dating back to 1484), the bazaar (dating from the and the Cathedral Ngjallja turn of the 20th century), the e Krishtit (“Resurrection of Mosque of Iliaz Bej Mirahori Christ”), one of the biggest ca- (the oldest monument in the thedrals in the Balkans.66
The city is known for its char-acteristic songs called “ser-enades” which are played byguitars. In the city tavernsyou can sample local dishes(be sure not to miss lakrori meqepë dhe domate, and tava ekorminës), and don’t forget theFestival of Carnivals, the big- The Carnivals of Korçagest celebration of its kind inall of Albania. 67
TOUR 7Voskopoja house in the Balkans (in 1720).Voskopoja was historically one Pay a visit to the Monasteryof the most important Balkan of Shën Prodhomi, Church ofcenters, dating back to 1330. It Shën Kolli (1721), Church ofreached its golden age in 1794, Shën Thanasi, Church “Fjetjawith a population number- e Shën Marisë” and the Churching 30,000 and contacts with of Shën Ilia, which housesLeipzig, Budapest, Venice, and pictures of famous AlbanianVienna. The city was also home iconographers, such as Da-to 27 churches, an academy, a vid Selenicasi and the Zografilibrary, and the first printing brothers from Korça, who also
worked in the Saint Mountainof Athos, in Halkidiki, Greece.In addition to its invigorat-ing climate and pine-filled air,Voskopoja offers comfortablehotels and private houses forfamily tourism as well as anatural ski-run for skiing en-thusiasts.
TOUR 7 Dardha en’s costumes dominated by Another unforgettable moun- black and red (the colors of the tain spot is the village of Dar- national flag), visit the stone dha, 20 km southeast of Korça, houses that offer hospitality at 1,350 m above sea level. to travelers, and don’t miss a There is snow during the win- taste of the traditional plum ter months, the air is crysta- raki and the lakrori në saç (a lline, and the water of the vi- traditional pie made with cab- llage’s many natural fountains bage between two sheets of is pure and invigorating. Look dough, and baked in a wood- out for the unique folk wom- fired oven).70
TOUR 7Vithkuqi and the Church of Shën Pavël.The mountain village of Vith- If you have enough time, youkuqi, birthplace of the Alba- also should climb Rungajanian Renaissance pioneer Na- (1,750 m above sea level) byum Veqilharxhi, stands 25 km foot or horse. Don’t worrysouthwest of the city of Korça. about accommodation, for theIt has been a population center local people have a reputationand a well-known economic for hospitality and will surelyand cultural center since me- invite you into their comfort-dieval times. During your stay, able and characteristic homes.you absolutely must drink thewater of the Bellovoda andvisit the Church of Shën Pjetër
Boboshtica. Do not miss the “raki” made byIt is an attractive village 16 km mulberry.from Korça. There is a range of You may also visit the oldrustic restaurants offering tra- churches of Saint Demetrioditional regional specialties. (Shën Mitri) and Saint Gio- vanni (Shën Jovani). Boboshtica is known for its nearby ski resort of Bigëll, 1,700 meters above sea level, where diverse ski competi- tions are organized.
TOUR 8 Këlcyra rants of Gryka e Këlcyrës, set As you leave either Gjirokastra among picturesque views of or Tepelena, Gryka e Këlcyrës nature, to taste their lamb and will appear in front of you. dairy specialties. This natural gate of the Valley Past the small town of Këlcyra, of Vjosa will be the first to say known in antiquity by the “Welcome”, showing its natu- name Klistyra, as you travel ral beauty, the high colorful through the Valley of Vjosa mountains and the magnifi- (Aoos, in antiquity), you will cent Vjosa River, a rapid and be able to admire the sight blue river full of tasty fish and of the mountains Dhëmbeli, amazing cataracts. You should Trebeshina, Kokojka and on not continue your journey the horizon, Nemërçka (“a without eating in the restau- big, regal woman”) cradling a76
valley “embroidered” by the sion of sleeping amidst thepeople of this region through waves of river itself.their wisdom and hard work. Përmeti, a city of flowers, roses, irreplaceable songs, cleanness,Përmeti and tranquility (its antiqueIn Përmeti you will enjoy the name was Tryfilia, inhabitedrelaxing calm and the flowers by Illyrians), was known as anand greenery without end. administrative center sinceYou will find hospitality and the 15th century. Its severala touching kindness in thestreets, houses, restaurantsand hotels. A night in thepleasant and comfortable ho-tels on the banks of the Vjosawill leave you with the impres- 77
TOUR 8 and rich bazaars were often the surrounding area offer a visited by residents of the sur- special cuisine and unforget- rounding countries. Today, table service. Among the city’s we invite you to see Gurin e traditional famous dishes, you Qytetit (“City’s Stone”), a sur- can sample ingjinari with oli- prising natural stone monu- ve oil, wild meat, mountain ment that makes the city dis- partridge me përshesh, boar tinct. You should also see the meat, rabbit, and the deli- churches, especially the 18th cious fish of the Vjosa. You will century Church of Leusa, fa- also taste the famous wine mous for its icons and wood (Kabërnet, Merlot, etc) and the engravings, and the 12th cen- traditional raki, as well as the tury Church of Shën Maria in delicious gliko (a kind of jelly) Kosina. made from all kinds of fruits, The restaurants of Përmeti and and especially from walnuts.78
During summer, you will find rituals, the International Multi-many beaches in Përmeti that cultural Festival (during June),look like pools carved out of and Dita e Verërave (Wine day)the river’s edge. The banks of during May. During the sameVjosa are often crowded by month, the city hosts a nation-fishing amateurs, and during al festival dedicated to the fa-the summer there is an an- mous personalities born in thenual canoeing competition nearby village of Frashëri.that starts from the source ofVjosa, at the feet of the PindiMountains, and ends with aceremony in the city of Përme-ti. There are two other annual 79
TOUR 8 Although it is a small city, built the foundations of the Përmeti is the birthplace of Albanian nation and defined many well known politicians, what we call “the Albanian scientists, writers, musicians gene”. However, this is not and figurative artists of the the only reason why we direct Albanian pantheon. Since we you to Frashëri. Traveling to- are talking about the Alba- wards the village you will pass nian pantheon, you should through the Bredhi i Hotovës not miss the chance to visit National Park, meaning you Frashëri, 30 km away from the will have the chance to see an city. It is the birthplace of the incredible view with fir-woods, Frashëri brothers and many endless pines, and many cold- other noted personalities that water sources.80
As you leave Përmeti behind, of warm curative water (eventhe road heads to the Greek in winter!). These waters flowfrontier, just 30 km away from from the beautiful canyons ofthe city, towards the city of two bridges built in the timeLeskoviku, famous for its ther- of Ali Pashë Tepelena: Ura emal waters in Vronomero and Kaikut and Ura e Dashit.the saunas of Postenani. Butyou can not say goodbye toPërmeti without visiting thethermal waters of Benja andthe Valley of Lengarinca just3 km away from the city. Thereare six natural outdoor sources 81
TOUR 9Berati located 120 km from Tirana.This 2407 years old city, the The city forms a wonderfulpride of Albanian antiquity combination of eastern andand architecture, and under western cultures, costumes,the protection of UNESCO, is traditions, and outlook. Berati is a treasure-trove of Albanian
history and culture, and tes- tipatrea. The castle expandedtimony to the country’s tra- especially during the feudaldition of religious harmony. dominion of the Muzakaj fam-The city’s life began in the ily. Inside the castle, they built6th-5th century B.C. as an Il- churches with precious frescoslyrian settlement. Later, in the and icons, and a calligraphy3rd century B.C., it was turned school. Today people continueinto a castle city known as An- to live inside the castle, a fact that makes it unique.
TOUR 9 The three major neighbor- and wood carvings. With its hoods of the old city are houses built along the steep Mangalemi, Gorica and Kala. hill, the view of Mangalemi The castle itself is in Kala; in is the reason that another Mangalemi, below the castle, name for Berati is “City of the you can see the famous view Floating Windows”. Across the of the façades of the houses, Osumi River lies the Gorica with windows that seem to neighborhood, whose houses stand above each other. In face those of Mangalemi. The general, a traditional house arched bridge of Gorica, built has two floors, where the in 1780, is a beautiful architec- second is prominent and has tural monument constructed many cambered windows to link Gorica to Mangelemi.86
The ensemble of the Byzantine 16th century: Onufri, and hischurches in the castle of Berati son, Nikolla. There are overis extraordinary. At the foot of 100 icons on display and theythe castle, there is the Byzan- also include works of other art-tine Church of Shën Mëhilli, ists such as Joan Çetiri, Onufërwhile the 13th century Church Qiprioti and many anonymousof Shën Maria e Vllahernës, painters. You also can visit thethe Church of Shën Triadha Monastery of Shën Spiridho-(“The Holy Trinity”), and the ni in Gorica.post-Byzantine monumentalCathedral of Shën Maria are The Saintlocated within the castle. The MaryCathedral of Shën Mëria hous- and Jesuses a museum of works by the icon paintedfamous iconographers of the by Onufri 87
TOUR 9 In 1417, the Ottomans occu- pied Berati. This conquest left its mark with the building of monuments to the Islamic faith, such as the Xhamia e Kuqe (“Red Mosque”, inside the castle), the Xhamia e Plumbit (1555), Xhamia Mbret (16th century) and the Xhamia e Beqarëve (1872). The ruins of the Red Mosque The Halveti Tekke88
Other sites worth visiting are Çorba e Tomorrit in the localthe Ethnographic Museum, restaurants.situated inside an 18th centu- The interiors of a traditional roomry çardak building, and the Art at the Ethnographic MuseumGallery “Edward Lear”, a well- of Beratiknown English painter whopainted so much of Berati andAlbania. In addition, Berati isknown for its culinary and tra-ditional dishes.It is worth tasting specialtiessuch as Pula me përshesh and 89
TOUR 9 Mount Tomorri The city of Berati is a good start- ing point to explore Mount To- morri (also called the Albanian Olympus, or “Gods Throne”), 30-40 km away from the city. Mount Tomorri is famous for its mystical appearance; it looks like a giant lion lying behind the city. This is one of the highest mountains in Al- bania, reaching 2,416 m above sea level. The western slope The forest is mostly made of is the most beautiful, cov- beech trees, pines, maples, ash ered with mixed vegetation. trees, and firs.90
Bears, wolves, foxes, weasels m above sea level. This monu-and rabbits make up the park’s ment is supposed that it wasfauna. Mount Tomorri is per- first a pagan temple , later onfect for mountain climbing, converted to a Christian mon-trekking, and other similar ac- ument and in now days in thistivities, and the area surround- present monument. Duringing the mountain is an ideal August pilgrims come to hisplace for camping. grave and many burnt offer-Another interesting spot on ings are made. This is the big-the mountain is Tyrbja e Kul- gest pilgrimage of the Alba-makut and the grave of Abaz nian and foreign bektashinj.Aliu, the Saint of the bektash-inj believers, situated at 1,200 91
TOUR 9 The Canyons of Osumi stretching almost 1,500 m. The The Cave of Pirrogoshi lies entrance is 5 m wide. The most near the village of Radeshi, interesting part of the cave is midways to the valley of Os- the giant corridor full of many umi, in the stream of Çoro- different Carstic shapes. The voda. Pirrogoshi is the biggest cave ends with a deep well full and longest cave in Albania, of bat colonies.92
Gradeci Canyon, the mostbeautiful and spectacular can-yon of the valley of Osumi,stands close to the cave. It is 4km long, 40 m high, and in di-fferent spots, only 1.5 m wide.Its slopes descend rapidly intothe river.To reach the other canyons ofOsumi, you will journey south-ward. These other canyons arelocated 3 km south from thetown of Çorovoda. They arenatural magnificent objectswith a total length of 15 km.In this area, you can practicewater sports like canoeing andkayaking. There are also seve-ral spots that serve as smallbeaches, such as Varishta.The Kaso Bashi bridge
TOUR 10Tirana name of the city. Some thinkTirana, the heart and capital that it relates to Tyrrenia (aof Albania, like all other Eu- name of Etruscan origins),ropean metropolises has a while other believe that it re-never-ending movement and lates to the word Therandaenergy. With its clubs, pubs, (harvest), or to the Tirkan (acafes and taverns, Tirana is castle at the foot of Mountworth discovering by day and Dajti).night. The value and hospital- Your own journey might beginity shown towards tourists is by visiting the museums andsomething that will mark your the key spots such as Sheshijourney not only in Tirana but Skënderbej where you willalso all over the country. be able to see the MosqueThere are different thoughts of Et’hem Beut (built duringregarding the origin of the 1798-1812) and the 35 meter
high Kulla e Sahatit (the WatchTower) built in 1822 with aSan Marco-style cupola. Next,you can visit the famous Mo-saic uncovered on the floorof an old Roman lodge. Itscenter configures the walls ofthe castle of the Roman em-peror Justinian (520 A.D.). Themonumental Tomb of KapllanPasha and the Ura e Tabakëve(a bridge constructed in thebeginning of the 19th centuryin Bulevardi “Zhan D’Ark”) ”, areother interesting place to visit. Old bridge in Tirana (Ura e Tabakëve)
TOUR 10 As a capital Tirana has the country’s finest museums, theatres and galleries repre- senting the national arts. The visit to the National History Museum, the Archeological Museum, the Natural Science Museum, the private “Mezuraj Museum”, and the National Gallery of the Arts will leave wonderful memories. You also can 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 tradi- Traveling by telepheric to tional cuisine and a variety of the National Park of Dajti98
foreign fares, from Italian toChinese, or even Indian. Thereare also several clubs and res-taurants in Mount Dajti todiscover and enjoy. There is achance to get there by cablecar which is a very special expe-rience. In the region of Tiranayou may also visit the castlesof Petrela and Preza, as well assome natural attractions, suchas Pëllumbasi Cave, Shkalla eTujanit, Biza etc.
TOUR 10Kruja The most important attrac-The historic city of Kruja lies tion of the city is the Museumon a panoramic mountain of the National Hero “Gjergjslope 32 km away from Tirana, Kastriot Skënderbeu”, situ-600 m above sea level. The city ated in an Illyrian castle, whichis one of the most beautiful took its present facade dur-tourist spots due to its natu- ing the 5th-6th century. Theral views and its history. Here castle has nine towers, a fewGjergj Kastrioti (Skanderbeg) houses, and the Teqja e Doll-protected Albania and Europe masë. The hammam is onfrom the Ottomans. west of the castle. Inside the castle grounds, you can also
visit the Ethnographic Mu- over the town of Kruja thereseum, a typical house made is a religious spot called Sariof çardak, which belonged to Salltiku (Bektashi sect). Thethe illustrious Toptani family. visitors can find shelter and ac-The traditional market of Kruja commodation if they wish tostands near the castle. It is one climb to that spot. From hereof Albania’s largest handicrafts there is a magnificent view to-market. This bazaar has oper- ward the valley and further toated since the 15th century. the Adriatic Sea.On the top of the mountain
TOUR 10 Durrësi The most notable tourist at- Durrësi, the biggest seaport traction in Durrës is the am- of the country, is located 34 phitheater of the Roman em- km away from Tirana. It is the peror Adrian with 15000 seats, most ancient city in Albania, the second biggest amphithe- with almost 3000 years of his- atre in the Balkans. During the tory. Its foundation dates back 9th Century, a small church to 627 B.C. when the Corinthi- with mosaic-covered walls ans and settlers from Corcyra was built nearby. You can also invaded the Illyrian territory of see the bathhouses of the 2nd the Taulants. The city is home century A.D. and the nearby to many ancient archaeologi- Byzantine forum of the 5th-6th cal sites and finds. century with marble columns.102
One-third of the original wall In addition to its historical val-of the city castle is still stand- ue, Durrësi is also a beautifuling, and you can even walk place to take a modern vaca-along the same road that Cae- tion, due to its sandy beaches,sar himself trod! The Archeo- hotels and metropolitan out-logical Museum is a new build- look. You will find excellenting in the avenue Taulantia. It restaurants and accommoda-is one of the most important tions all along the sea’s edge.of its kind and is of great in-terest to visitors. The most re-nowned archaeological objectuncovered in Durrësi is “Buku-roshja e Durrësit”, a mosaic ofthe 4th century B.C. Today it isexhibited in the National His-toric Museum in Tirana. 103
TOUR 10Elbasani According to the historian TitLocated at the Shkumbini Ri- Livi, King Pyrrhus of Epirus wasver, where it crosses the fa- the first to teach others how tomous Egnatia Road, the city of put up a camp, which is whyElbasani – ancient Scampini – the city’s fortification is in theis just 50 km away from Tirana. form of a square.In ancient times, Scampini In the 6th century, the citywas a typical Roman fortifica- broadened beyond the wallstion, but in the 4th century it of the castle due to its needsreceived a new administrative as center of the episcopate,status and, with its new name with several cathedrals andHiscampis, it became one of a large basilica on the hill ofthe major cities of the new Tepe, near the castle.Epirus, home of the area’s only In 1466, the Ottomans tookRoman legion. control of the castle of Skam-
pini and reconstructed it al- feminine name), the Ethno-most entirely. They renamed graphic Museum etc.the city Elbasani and it be- In the district of Elbasanicame center of the sanxhak there are also two very uniquebetween the 17th and 18th churches painted by Onufri,centuries. This was a time of the famous albanian painterheavy trade, both in and out of XV century. You should trav-of the country, which encour- el to the villages of Shelcaniaged the significant develop- and Valëshi, in the region ofment of handicrafts. Today Shpati, to visit them.tourists can visit the Church On the other hand, just 4 kmof Saint Mary and the King before the entrance of El-Mosque (inside the city walls). basani, coming from TiranaThe Mosque of Naziresha (a there is the Monastery ofvery rare case because of its Shën Gjon Vladimiri.
The Shën Kolli Church in Shelcan, painted by Onufri Illyrian Woman, archaeological It dates back on 1381, construc- object, Elbasani ted by the albanian prince Karl Topia , who buried there the bones of the Saint Gjon Vladi- miri. Few kilometers far from Elbasani there are the “llixhat”, the hot springs used since the roman times. You can find accommodation and other fa- cilities.106