Durres

DURRES – ALBANIA

GENERAL INFORMATION

Durrës or Durresi is the second largest city and a municipality of Albania. It is central on the coast, about 33 km (21 miles) west of the capital city, Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically significant cities of Albania. Durrës is at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari (300 km or 186 miles away) and Brindisi (200 km or 124 miles away). Durrës is home to Albania’s main port, the Port of Durrës, and to the newest public university, the Aleksandër Moisiu University.

Durres is quite used to foreign tourists and there are many people that speak English and other languages and that would be more than happy to offer information and other kinds of services.

Durresi has a long, interesting history, however most people, Albanians and foreign tourists visit Durres not for its history, but for its long beaches with golden sand and shallow, clean water. In the peak season of the summer, the beaches in Durres are very crowed, but if you visit Durresi out of the peak season, in Spring or at the beginning of Autumn, the beaches are less crowded and the water is still warm enough to swim in.  There is a long promenade, running along the seafront in the main city, it runs parallel with Tautlantia Boulevard, and ends in a small area of beaches.

Getting to and around Durres:

By air: You can travel to Durres, by air, through the Rinas airport which is located close to the capital of Albania, Tirana and just 24 kilometers by land. After reaching the NeneTereza Airport, you can simply follow the interary Rinas-Tirana-Durres highway.

By Sea: The largest sea port in Albania, Durres is located 227 kilometers away from Bari (Italy), 694 kilometers away from Ancona (Italy) and 147 kilometers away from Tivar (Montenegro). The naval transport operates daily with the cruises of the Italian ports of Bari, Brindisi, Ancona and Treste. In the summer time, there are more frequent ferry routes. You can find exact information at the following websites:  www.traghetti.it and www.adriaferries.com Car ferries also travel from Ancona and from Trieste, but the journey is much longer. These ferries run all year round, with more frequent journeys in the summer time.

By road: Durres is an important junction of the road transport as in the city is the connection of the three main transport axes: south highway of Durres – Gjirokastra – Kakavija, which branches off in the south of Fieri, towards the coast of Vlore – Saranda; The national highway of Durres – Kukes and the 8th Corridor Durres – Elbasan – QafeThane (Macedonia) that branches off to Korca and Kapshtica (Greece).

National and international bus lines to and from Durres – Albania : Regular bus and mini bus lines are available from the small hours of the morning to the late hours of the night for travelers that wish to travel from Durres to Tirana, Elbasan, Fier, Shkodra, Korca, Vlora, Saranda, Mamurras, Librazhd and Gramsh. The main bus station is located just next to the train station, but there is also an important bus stop at the place that is known as “Te Plepat”, the location where the highway from the south of the country turns east towards Tirana. There is a daily bus line from Durres to Athens, Pristina (Kosovo), Tetovo and Kumanovo (Macedonia). From Durres, you can take the bus from the area that is known as “Red Wheel” (Albanian: Rrota e Kuqe), a large structure in the form of a wheel that has been constructed in the memory of the railroad workers hard labor. Recently, buses have also started to travel from Durres to Italy!

By train: Durres is the main railway center of Albania. Its station branches off into three directions, North, South and East. Although the railway transport is not commonly used nor is it advisable to use due to the depreciation suffered by the train station since the collapse of the communist regime, it still operates but is mostly used by the poor population of the country. A trip on the train could be seen as an exotic trip for tourists who want to know more about how this way of transportation worked in Albania before the 90s of the last century.

Getting around Durres in Albania

The main tourist information office in Durres is located near the Venetian Tower, nearby the promenade of Taulantia. The staff of the tourist information office, speak quite good English and Greek and as well as any kind of information, you can also find maps, touristic guides of Durres, souvenirs, post-cards etc.

Taxi service: You will be able to find taxis at almost every area of Durres, try to book taxis that display tables and figures, so that you can avoid any possible abuse of the taxi prices and the quality of the service. The average price for a taxi to get from one point of the city to another is between 300 – 500 lek (3-5 Euros).

Car rental in Durres: There are a couple of car rental agencies close to the port of Durres and also close to the main bus station of Durres. The car rental agencies will also offer information about where to go, what to see etc.

Foreign money exchange / money transfers: Most of the travel agencies offer many extra services, such as currency exchange, money transfers and deliveries worldwide. These services can also be obtained through any banks.

Getting around Durres is quite easy, as most of the hotels and the sites and attractions is the city are quite central. Walking around is not a big issue, except for in very hot or very bad weather. Just next to the main bus station in Durres, there is also a taxi rank, where drivers can be hired either for a single journey or for a day or half a day of sightseeing. Always try to agree on the price, before you start the journey with the taxi. The large red city buses frequently travel to the beaches located on the southern side of Durres, each day from early morning until around 9.00 p.m. If you want to get to Mali i Robit, you can either catch a mini bus for Kavaja and ask the driver to allow you to get off where the road ends, or you can make an agreement about the fare with a local taxi driver.


 

ACCOMMODATION IN DURRES

It is usually easy to find accommodation in most areas of Albania, what we have tried to do is to give you the many many options but to also give our own personal advise of the goods and the bads as well as the exact location and the facilities of each accommodation choice. We would appreciate it if you would reserve your accommodation via this website and we will be there either in person or with a representative of ours to personally assist you while you are on  your holidays in Albania.

Along the sea coast of Durres, you will find many hotels and restaurants, offering high level popular services for all kinds of people. Most of the accommodation choices have been built in the last 20 years and so they offer modern and good quality accommodation.

 


 

ACTIVITIES IN DURRES

Albania is qualified today as one the most attractive holiday destinations in the whole of the Mediterranean. The wonderful nature, the land, the museums, the ancient monuments are all places that must be explored. The natural environment of Albania gives you the opportunity to exercise many kinds of sports. More than the two thirds of the country are mountainous terrain and in these areas in the autumn and winter, sports like skiing, mountaineering, climbing, trekking etc. can be exercised.

We have listed some of the best tours and activities that you should try, while you are spending time in Durres.

SIGHTSEEING IN DURRES

Some important buildings in Durrës include the Rodoni castle, the cultural center outside the castle with the Aleksandër Moisiu Theatre, the Estrada Theater, the puppet theater, the main library and the philharmonic orchestra. There are also several museums such as the Durrës Archaeological Museum, Royal Villa of Durrës (The house of King Zogu I) and the Museum of History (the house of Aleksandër Moisiu).

The city hosts the Durrës Ancient City Wall called also Durrës Castle while the largest amphitheater in the Balkans is in the city close to the harbor. This first-century construction is currently under consideration for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Rodoni castle (Keshtjella e Rodonit): Located on the cape of Rodon within the surrounding area of the popular city of Durres. The Rodoni castle was built by the Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg in the years 1451 – 1452 with some additional constructions in the year 1463, when Skanderbeg brought some construction masters from Ragusa. After the death of Skanderbeg, the castle went under the control of Venice, which was in the year 1500 when the city of Durres felt the Ottoman threat and undertook further constructions. The aim of the castle was to guarantee an escape through the sea for Skanderbeg to Italy, in the event that he encountered a fatal attack from the Ottomans. On the 22nd January of the year 1462, while making the negotiations between the Skanderbeg ambassador, the Dalmation Republic and Ragusa, Skanderbeg asked for help from the sea. This was provided in the treaty of the 4th February and stated that in the case of a war, Raguse will place its docks and fleets at the disposal of Skanderbeg in order to fight the Ottomans. Under the leadership of Scanderbeg, this castle lasted until 1467, while, afterwards, according to Barleti, it was destroyed by the Turkish. After 33 years, the Venedicts became interested again in this castle and rebuilt it after the year 1500. Due to this cultural monument, its short distance to other important monuments, the landscape, and the beauties of the area together with its flora and fauna, this zone has become very popular among tourists and visitors. The castle can be reached by every point of the Commune of Ishmi and by sea, as well.

The Rodoni castle was not an authentic castle, it was more of a fortification composed by a protective wall of 100 meters in length that stretched up from one shore of the cape up to the other. The wall had a moat that was filled by the sea water and on the northern east side; it had an entrance through which it was possible to communicate with the people inside. Just next to the gate was arched-shape strongholds that run parallel to the shore. It was circa for 10-12 meters high and the walls were 3-6 meters thick. The stronghold wall had another second wall parallel to the first wall in a distance of 4.80 meters. Both stronghold and the wall had towers to their extremities. It is interesting that even until today, visitors can spot their ruins from the old- time cannon ports. A third tower was located 200 meters inland the cape. The third tower served for communications through fires in an Ariel line with the castle of Kruja. The fortification was built with pumice stones that had been sculptured in quadrangular shapes. They were fastened by plaster and were combined by bricks. After the death of Skanderbeg in the year 1468, the Rodoni Castle went under the control of Venice, but when the Ottomans conquered Durres, Venice abandoned most of the Albanian coastline around the year 1571, Rodoni castle was included in the areas abandoned by Venice. Years later, after falling into the hands of the Ottomans, the castle was not used anymore for military purposes. It required additional protection constructions and was a very easy target for the naval artillery. For this reason, it was abandoned and turned into a forgotten relict. 

The archaeological museum of Durres: The archaeological museum located in Durres was introduced on the 13th April, 2002 upon the foundation of another archaeological museum that was first opened in 13th March of the year 1951. Inside the museum, the exhibitions have been organized and separated into three wards, according to the historical periods.  The first ward begins the exhibition of items of prehistorical findings from inside the city of Durres and the surrounding regions. In a chronological order, it is followed by the Illyrian history of the archaic, classical periods of the city up until the 1st century BC. Then, the topographic, economic, political and cultural developments of the Roman Dyrrachium are revealed. The findings in the city of Durres proves the presence of a large Illyrian population with a very rich spiritual world. Durres appears to have been the center for a multi-branched economy that traded with many other Mediterranean centers. The Middle Ages section includes 15 centuries from the V to the XV century and ends with the Turkish period.

The church of Saint Andreas in Rodoni (Kisha e Shen Ndout): There were many Catholic monasteries just next to the Rodoni castle, these monasteries were mentioned in the 13th and 14th century as the monasteries of Saint Anastasia, Saint Nikolaos, The Virgin Mary and Saint Andreas. The last of the monasteries (Saint Andreas) was the only monastery found in a ruined state several years ago. The church – monastery of Saint Andreas had a rectangular plan of 13.7 meters X 6.3 meters and has the temple, the narthex and the sanctuary. The object that was built in the 14th – 15th century has arches, gates, windows and other elements of Roman architecture with Gothic elements. The church is built with pumice stones and bricks that have been bounded with plaster, using the Byzantine technique of combining stones and bricks. Today, the church has been restored with German funds, it has gained a new value and two frescoes appear in its interior apse. Every 13th of July, local peregrines gather in the church to commemorate Saint Andreas, who is called Shen Ndou bu the Albanians and the locals.

The amphitheater in Durres is one of the main attractions in Durres, it was built in the early 2nd century AD partly on the plain and partly on the hill, and is considered to be the largest amphitheater in the Balkans. It is open every day from 9.00 a.m. until 19.00, the admission fee is 300 Lek, including the entrance fee to the archaeological museum. There are sometimes English speaking guides available at the entrance. The amphitheater is elliptical in its shape, about 135 meters at its longest point, with the arena itself measuring about 60 meters by 40 meters across. On the terraced seats there would have been space for no less than 15000 spectators, about a third of the capacity of the Colosseum in Rome. The main entrance to the amphitheater was located on the northern side and a southern exit was on the same axis. The discovery of the arena clarified the function of the amphitheater.

The church and the mosaic in the amphitheater of Durres (Kisha e Amfiteatrit dhe Mozaiku): The church was built around the 5th – 6th century AD and it held many religious ceremonies and funerals of the citizens of Durres from Christian groups. Originally, the church was decorated with many frescoes. The age of the church shows that many interventions have taken place (VI – VII centuries), the church is decorated on the southern side and the western side with unique mosaics. One of the mosaics is dedicated to Saint Stephen, the martyr of the city of Durres. Then, Saint Mary is depicted as a Byzantine empress and is surrounded by two angels, the first with letters on the top and at her feet are two other miniature figures. The western facade has fragments of Saint Sophia and Saint Irini with corresponding names. The eastern gallery was served as a refuge for Christian communities and has been decorated with a mural of the Saint Gabriel.

The beauty of Durres (Mozaiku i bukuroshes se Durresit):  The “beauty of Durres” is the name of a mosaic from the 4th century BC, which is now located in the exhibition of the National Historical Museum of Tirana. The mosaic was accidentally discovered during the first World War in the “Varosh”, which was the old section of the city, the archaeologist Praschiniker who was mobilized in the Austro – Hungarian army was the first person to study the mosaic. The mosaic has been made by millions of small river pebbles of different colors. In the center of the mosaic, there is a portrait of a woman, surrounded by decorations of plants. The woman is beautiful and this is why the mosaic has been named “the beauty of Durres”. Some scholars consider the woman in the middle of the mosaic to be Aura who was one of the accompanying ladies of the Goddess Artemis.

The surrounding walls of Durres (Muret Rrethuese te Durresit): Since the date that Durres was established, it is a city that is defended all around by walls that have been built with monolith blocks. The first walls around the city are said to have been built in the Hellenistic Period. The wall that can still be seen until today were built by the Byzantine emperor Anastasi I (491 – 518) and they originate from Durres following the catastrophic earthquake that caused alot of damage to the city in the year 345 and ruined the initial Hellenistic period walls. The emperor defended the city of Durres with three rows of brick walls, from which 500 meters in length have been saved on the south western side of the city. The perimeter reached 3,5 kilometers, with a height of 18 meters and a width of 3.50 meters. The defense system was strengthened with pentagon towers each at a distance of 60 – 65 meters. Further interventions were made in the years 527 – 565 by the emperor Justinian. In the year 1272 Karl Topia also performed defensive reinforcements and then in the year 1350 Karli Anzhu, also. Today, one of the towers that was built by the Venetians at the southern corner of the walls has been transformed into a bar, called La Torra, the bar has placed its tables in the alcoves where at one point in time, the cannons used to stand. In the year 1502, the Ottomans rebuilt the old existing fortifications and garrisoned their troops within them. There is an panel with information located at the gate of the city leading to the amphitheater, this panel shows a map of the fortifications as they used to be and as they have changed over the years.

The Venetian tower (Torra Veneciane): This circular tower, that is known locally as “the tower” was built in the 15th century upon the ruins of a Byzantine tower. This can be proved by the existence of blocks from previous fences and the architectural fragments of ancient reliefs. The tower has a diameter of 16 meters and a height of 9 meters. The entrance to the tower is through an arched gate that has been made of bricks. The tower is equipped with 5 turrets and 3 alcoves. The interior area of the tower has been built in order to form a dome. There is a steep and narrow staircase inside the tower that is quite dangerous today.

The Roman Baths (Hamami Mesjeter): The baths of the Roman period were completely discovered in the year 1960 whereas they were built in the first years of the 2nd century AD located very close to the center of Durres (under the house of the actor “Alexander Moisu”).

The basilica of Saint Micheal (Shen Mehillit) in Arapaj: The basilica of Saint Michael is a cultural construction that dates back to the time of the Byzantine emperor Justinian (527 -565) at the beginning of the VI century. The basilica is located 6 kilometers away from Durres, on the west side of the hill “Saint Mehill” just in front of the “Iliria” beach. It has been fully excavated and is 65 x 29 meters in size, upon the architectural view, it presents a basilica with three naves, each with three apses, two annexes are located on the northern and southern side and there is a large interior courtyard with colonnades. There is a monumental tomb located to the southern nave that is covered with a mosaic and has an area of 54 m2. The selected motifs, images, the work technique and the multicolored mosaic stones characterize this to be a unique work of art deriving from the Byzantine period of the IV century, a piece of work by one of the mosaic masters of Durres.

The Byzantine market square: The traditional center of the city known as ancient Dyrrah is the market square that was built during the Byzantine period. The market square occupied a central position compared to other large public and religious buildings that derive from the Byzantine Period. The architectural presentation shows that it used to function as an open air super market, a circular portico. In the center of the square, there is a well and the floor has been covered with marble tiles.

The well of Top Hane: The Top-Hane designation shows that its initial job was to function as a workshop for manufacturing gunpowder. The presence of the water source in the neighborhood of Varosh (just outside the castle), made it possible for a well to be built to service the inhabitants of the neighborhood in the 16th century. The well was built upon a foundation of stone with a quadrangle shape, surrounded by four granite columns that were re-used from the Byzantine Period.

The medieval hamam (Turkish bath): The hamam is a Turkish bath located in a public building with the traditional Turkish architecture of that period.  It was built in the 18th century in the southern corner of the medieval town. In the center of the building, there was a spherical dome that reached a height of 5.8 meters equipped with 12 small windows for ventilation. Its ambient were heated by steam that came in through pottery pipes. The oven  is located in the back area of the hamam, the oven was very damaged and was not been renovated until the year 1980.

The “Fatih” mosque: The Fatih mosque was built in the years of the Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror (Fatih). It the oldest building of Islamic worship in Albania. The mosque was built around the years 1502 – 1503, framed on the ruins of a Christian cult building (basilica of the 11th century).

The Great Mosquea (Xhamia e Madhe): The great mosque was built in the year 1938. The building occupies a central area among the architectural works of this period in Durres. Its topographic position was selected to be facing the east and it meets the other buildings ensemble in the main square of Durres. The mosque is distinguished by its large size with ambient functions of the rituals. “The movement against religion, religious prejudices and backward customs” of the 6th February 1967, squandered its dome and tower and transformed it into a cultural institution that was called “The Young Palace”. With the establishment  of the democratic system, the Great Mosque was rebuilt in two phases during the early years of 1992 – 1994, then later in the years 2004 – 2006, giving it its initial appearance.

The Catholic church ofSaint Lucia“: The Catholic Church of Saint Lucia with bells is a building from the year 1909. It is a building of culture with its functional respective environments. The church is also known as an important center where the patriotic clergyman Dom Nikoll Kacorri (1862 – 1917) preached. This personality with a distinguished reputation and a pioneer citizen was supporting the patriot movement ideas for the Albanian language and Albanian Independence. In the chambers of the church, the patriots of the city of Durres gathered in order to make important decisions about the historical events like the raising of the national flag in Durres on the 26th November of the year 1912.

The church of apostle Paul and Saint Asti (Kisha e Apostull Pavlit dhe Shen Astit): The church of the Apostole Paul and Saint Asti was built during the year 1994 – 2002, it was inaugurated on the 3rd May, 2009. The Apostle Paul is recognized as the first preacher of the Christian religion in the Illyrian lands. In his memory, a church has been built in the northern side of the city, in the “Cape of Paul”, today “Kepi e Palles”, Saint Asti is the first martyr, who was martyred in 100 AD in Durres at the time of the Roman emperor Trojan (98 – 177 AD).

Epidamn Boulevard:  The “commercial street”, today’s “Epidamn Boulevard” was built after the damage brought on by the earthquake of the year 1926. With the opening of this road, began the implementation of a modern regulatory plan of the city of Durres with European cities urban settings. On both sides of the road were raised two and three story buildings (villas), in the style of  contemporary architecture, with diversified decor. The upper floors were served as residential floors while the first ones were for commerce, which gave the name “Commercial Street”. They are still preserved until today as a representative of the architectural constructions of the 30s and 40s in the 20th century.

The Museum houseAleksander Moisiu“: A garret house that was built in the second half of the 19th century. In the 30s of the 20th century, it was the seat of the English consulate. Due to its architectural values, this building was declared as a “monument of culture”. After its restoration in 1983 it was decided as an “Exhibition of Popular Culture”. In three exhibition rooms, craft values of the city of Durres and surrounding areas are unfolded. Two other rooms are devoted to the figure of the Albanian origin actor Alexander Moisiu (1879 – 1935) called the “Alexander Moisiu Museum”. He completed his elementary school in Durres and for that in the year 1928, he wrote his memoirs in an outline form that was titled “Childhood dream”.

The city hall of Durres: The city hall of Durres was built in the year 1929 and until today it occupies a central position in the main city square. It is designed with three floors and many basements. The first floor, the entrance facade is treated with three arches, while on the second floor there is an internal balcony with columns. On its left side, culminates a cubic shape tower where the city clock has been placed. The facade is decorated on both sides with relief decor shaped as medallions, which are symbols of sailing ships and wheat.

TheKing Zog Iresidence: The Royal Place was built in the year 1937. It was designed in the highest quote (98 meters) of the hills and has a dominant position over the city and the sea. The architecture of the building is represented in a neoclassical style which is used at the beginning of the 20th century. In front of the villa’s facade, the Albanian lion-hearted Gjergi Kastrioti Skenderbeu is figured, on his horse, right profile, with a sword in his hand.

The Mausoleum of Martyrs: The mausoleum of Martyrs is a memorial of the fallen of the World War II and of the Nazi concentration camps. The Mausoleum was designed by the architect Kristo Sotiri (1870 – 1953). The works began in 1947. It is the first and unique mausoleum in Albania. Martyrs Shrine complex has a cambered plan. It consists of three main parts: the building of the Shrine, stair and garden. The remains of martyrs were placed in special rooms. Instead for those who died in the Nazi camps, were buried in memorial tombs (tombs without bones). Scripted on two marble plaques with bronze letters are the names of the internees of the Nazi camps.

The memorial of Mujo Ulqinaku: This is a memorial that is dedicated to Ulqinaku Mujo (1896 – 1939), the “hero of the people”. One of the first fighters of the resistance against the Italian fascist invasion on the 7th April, 1939. The memorial was built by the ” people’s sculptor” Kristaq Rama.  Mujo Ulqinaku was born in the town of Ulqin to a family of a seaman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

THE HISTORY OF DURRES

Durrës used to be the national capital of the country of Albania from the 7th March of the year 1914 until the 11th February of the year 1920 during the reign of William of Albania in Principality of Albania. The headline on the northern side of the bay of Durres, forms a natural harbor in which ships have anchored since the 7th century.

The geopolitical position and the economic importance were two factors that would continuously endanger the ancient city of Epidamnos. The first serious peril, came from the State of Macedonia in the year 314 BC because King Cassander, after defeating Glaucias of Taulanti, sieges the city and conquered Epidamnos. Two years later, Glaucias of Taulanti managed to get rid of the Macedonians by throwing them out and to have the town of Epidamnos or Dyrrhachion under his possession. His successor, Monunius began to issue his own coins in the year 280 BC bearing the symbol of the city emblem.

The city of Durres has been inhabited for about 3000 years, however, it enters into the history of Albania in the year 627 BC when it was colonized by settlers from the Greek island of Corfu (Corcyra), who were probably attracted by the silver mines that are located further inland of Illyria.

Although the surviving remains are minimal, as for one of the oldest cities in Albania, you may take a look at the rich past of the city, which reflects in the Archaeological Museum of Durres.

The city used to be named Epidamnos in the ancient region of Illyria in 627 BC. The city surrounding Epidamnos was called Dyrrhachion. In the 5th century BC, a population uprising in the city of Dyrrhachion became one of the causes of the Peloponnesian war, which engulfed the whole of Greece and Albania from 431 BC up until 404 BC.
Under the Roman rule, the city of Dyrrhachion, became a vital staging post, one of the two starting points of the Egnatian Way (Via Egnatia), the great road which linked the Adriatic coast with the Byzantium. The Romans replaced the rule of Teuta with that of Demetrius of Pharos, one of her generals. He lost his kingdom, including Epidamnus, to the Romans in 219 BC at the Second Illyrian War. In the Third Illyrian War Epidamnus was attacked by Gentius but he was defeated by the Romans at the same year.

At the end of the Roman conquest in the year 229 BC (See the history of Albania) the city, now under the name Dyrrachium as it was called in Latin,  had a population of around 38000 people and had become a major transit point between Italy and other countries to the further east. The Via Egnantia was built by Roman engineers along the route of an already existing ancient road, which had been used by Illyrian and other traders for many centuries, the two starting points of the ancient road were Dyrrchium and Appolonia and it used to carry good and people all of the way to the Byzantium, which was later called Constantinople.

In the second phase of the Roman civil war, that was between Julius Ceasar and Pompey, Dyrrachium was the Pompeian forces’ main arsenal and therefore a key target for Ceasar, after he landed in Albania in 48 BC. Ceasar managed to cut Pompey off from his arsenal, but in response, Pompey entrenched his army in what must have seemed an impregnable position – the crag which is now called Shkembri i Kavajes, close to Golemi, and which the Romans called Petra. With typical audacity, Ceasar decided to blockade Petra and, although his forces were much smaller than Pompey’s, not to mention, less well fed, he almost succeeded in starving the Pompeian troops into surrender. Pompey then broke through Ceaser’s lines and, in the ensuing battle, inflicted heavy losses on the opposing side. Ceasar managed to free his army and retreated east, where the third and final phase of the Roman Civil War would unfold in Thessaly.

 

 

USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT DURRES

Getting to and around Durres:

By air: You can travel to Durres, by air, through the Rinas airport which is located close to the capital of Albania, Tirana and just 24 kilometers by land. After reaching the NeneTereza Airport, you can simply follow the interary Rinas-Tirana-Durres highway.

By Sea: The largest sea port in Albania, Durres is located 227 kilometers away from Bari (Italy), 694 kilometers away from Ancona (Italy) and 147 kilometers away from Tivar (Montenegro). The naval transport operates daily with the cruises of the Italian ports of Bari, Brindisi, Ancona and Treste. In the summer time, there are more frequent ferry routes. You can find exact information at the following websites:  www.traghetti.it and www.adriaferries.com Car ferries also travel from Ancona and from Trieste, but the journey is much longer. These ferries run all year round, with more frequent journeys in the summer time.

By road: Durres is an important junction of the road transport as in the city is the connection of the three main transport axes: south highway of Durres – Gjirokastra – Kakavija, which branches off in the south of Fieri, towards the coast of Vlore – Saranda; The national highway of Durres – Kukes and the 8th Corridor Durres – Elbasan – QafeThane (Macedonia) that branches off to Korca and Kapshtica (Greece).

train in Durres of Albania

train in Durres of Albania

National and international bus lines to and from Durres – Albania : Regular bus and mini bus lines are available from the small hours of the morning to the late hours of the night for travelers that wish to travel from Durres to Tirana, Elbasan, Fier, Shkodra, Korca, Vlora, Saranda, Mamurras, Librazhd and Gramsh. The main bus station is located just next to the train station, but there is also an important bus stop at the place that is known as “Te Plepat”, the location where the highway from the south of the country turns east towards Tirana. There is a daily bus line from Durres to Athens, Pristina (Kosovo), Tetovo and Kumanovo (Macedonia). From Durres, you can take the bus from the area that is known as “Red Wheel” (Albanian: Rrota e Kuqe), a large structure in the form of a wheel that has been constructed in the memory of the railroad workers hard labor. Recently, buses have also started to travel from Durres to Italy!

By train: Durres is the main railway center of Albania. Its station branches off into three directions, North, South and East. Although the railway transport is not commonly used nor is it advisable to use due to the depreciation suffered by the train station since the collapse of the communist regime, it still operates but is mostly used by the poor population of the country. A trip on the train could be seen as an exotic trip for tourists who want to know more about how this way of transportation worked in Albania before the 90s of the last century.

Getting around Durres in Albania

The main tourist information office in Durres is located near the Venetian Tower, nearby the promenade of Taulantia. The staff of the tourist information office, speak quite good English and Greek and as well as any kind of information, you can also find maps, touristic guides of Durres, souvenirs, post-cards etc.

Taxi service: You will be able to find taxis at almost every area of Durres, try to book taxis that display tables and figures, so that you can avoid any possible abuse of the taxi prices and the quality of the service. The average price for a taxi to get from one point of the city to another is between 300 – 500 lek (3-5 Euros).

Car rental in Durres: There are a couple of car rental agencies close to the port of Durres and also close to the main bus station of Durres. The car rental agencies will also offer information about where to go, what to see etc.

Foreign money exchange / money transfers: Most of the travel agencies offer many extra services, such as currency exchange, money transfers and deliveries worldwide. These services can also be obtained through any banks.

Getting around Durres is quite easy, as most of the hotels and the sites and attractions is the city are quite central. Walking around is not a big issue, except for in very hot or very bad weather. Just next to the main bus station in Durres, there is also a taxi rank, where drivers can be hired either for a single journey or for a day or half a day of sightseeing. Always try to agree on the price, before you start the journey with the taxi. The large red city buses frequently travel to the beaches located on the southern side of Durres, each day from early morning until around 9.00 p.m. If you want to get to Mali i Robit, you can either catch a mini bus for Kavaja and ask the driver to allow you to get off where the road ends, or you can make an agreement about the fare with a local taxi driver.


 

UNIQUE CULTURE OF ALBANIA

The Albanian culture is an exotic blend of traditions that have evolved over thousands of years. From the ancient Illyrians and Greeks to the Romans and the Ottomans, the language, music, arts, and cuisine of the Albanian people are a rich and vibrant mix of many civilizations. Once you discover our culture, you are bound to fall in love with this new destination on the Mediterranean.

Hospitality is in our nature. Welcoming guests and ensuring their comfort is a hallmark of Albanian heritage and is epitomized by our very own Nobel Peace Prize recipient: Mother Teresa. The spirit of cooperation and friendship thrives in Albania, and it is not uncommon for guests to be invited to eat and drink with curious locals wishing to learn more about you.

Besa is a concept related to the Albanian code of honor and is an idea that is very important to the Albanian people. In the Kanun (a set of traditional Albanian laws), Besa is described as the highest authority, so essential to personal and familial standing as to be virtually a cult. Besa has been the subject of some stories and novels by Albania’s foremost modern novelist, Ismail Kadare, a Nobel Prize Candidate for Literature and winner of several international prizes. Kadare’s work has been published in over forty countries and translated into more than thirty languages, making Kadare the best ambassador of Albanian literature worldwide.

If we are speaking about the food and drinks of Albania, then we must mention the country’s deliciously-unique cuisine. It has many similarities to Turkish and Greek dishes, but offers a healthier, Mediterranean twist. Come try our wide variety of phyllo dough delicacies, including a melt-in-your-mouth sensation called byrek, or the original sweet treat known regionally as baklava.

Albania also has a long tradition of wine craftsmanship, which is lately being revived to its former glory. While you’re here, taste a sampling of our wine, produced from a rich soil that has been under cultivation since the ancient Greeks and Romans. Regardless of your culinary inclinations, we guarantee that our rich history and culinary traditions have created a menu of mouth-watering specialties for you to try.

Each region of Albania likes to specialize in its own brand of music, thus giving the music aficionado an incentive to explore the entire country in search of each community’s sense of style. For example, UNESCO has classified a type of music from southern Albania, known as Iso Polyphony, to have tremendous cultural value to humankind. Our music has even given rise to a few prominent artists of global acclaim, including opera lyric soprano, Inva Mula, and the distinguished violinist, Tedi Papavrami.

In regards to style, when you arrive in Albania, you will notice that the men take great pride in their appearance and will often don a suit and tie when in public. Even if their errands only involve a short trip to the grocery store, the men will dress to impress.

Depending upon the type of festival or time of year, you might even catch a glimpse of Albanian men in traditional folk attire. The National Folk Festival held in Gjirokastra is a prime example. This special autumn event is held once every four years and attracts artists from around the world.

The women of Albania also share a flair for style, especially at traditional Albanian weddings. At these events, the families of both the bride and groom will gather together in their finest dress and celebrate with great fervor. Weddings are often the ideal opportunity to witness the best of Albanian culture all in one event, and if you’re invited to one, the experience will undoubtedly be extraordinary.

Albanian culture is unique in many ways and we hope you’ll visit us to see it firsthand. We say ‘yes’ by shaking our head from side to side, both men and women greet each other with a kiss on either cheek, and our conversations are loud and passionate in an effort to entice others to join in. Visit Albania and discover why our culture is a new Mediterranean love.

MAP OF ALBANIA

map of Albania

PHOTO GALLERY OF DURRES

MAP OF DURRES