DURRES, AN ALBANIAN CITY, ON STRATEGIC LOCATION IN THE ROMAN TIME
More than three thousand years old, Durrës is located in the middle of the Adriatic Coast, in central Albania, with Greece to the south and Italy to the west. The city is full of history, with much still to discover. Durrës has been part of the story of the world, having as its neighbors two of history’s greatest societies: Rome and Ancient Greece.
Durrës was already a city before the Hellenic era.Inhabited by the Illyrians, their artifacts can still be found in the Archeological Museum. During the days of the Roman Empire, the city was an important transport route. In fact, the famous Via Egnatiato Thessaloniki began from Durrës.It’s also famous for the first contested battle that Caesar lost against Pompey (though some claims that he just retreated to win a battle in Ohrid). You can see the Roman past in the amphitheater in the middle of the city. Then the Byzantine Empire had its own center in Durrës. For a long time, Constantine lived in Durrës and enjoyed the bay. The Byzantine past is visible in the walls of the city and in the old market.
Forty kilometers north of the city, in one of Durrës’ biggest bays, is a medieval monastery built by the King of Nablus as a sign of good relations between him and Scanderbeg, the national hero of Albania, who blocked the Ottoman Empire for more than 35 years, keeping them busy while Europe organized a resistance. Eventually, the Ottomans took over, and Durrës lost some of its trading power. The Ottoman Empire stayed for five hundred years, and their traces can still be found in the many mosques around the city and in the fortress walls.
In 1912, Durrës was the first city in Albania to declare independence from the Ottomans. During World War I, Durrës was under control of the Italians, who left theirarchitecture and cuisine. During World War II, Durrëswas a ghost city, empty for almost one year whenthe Germans put mines in the sea to block a potential Allied invasion. After the war, communism took hold, and EnverHoxha ruled the country as dictator for forty years. Now Durrës is a dynamic citywith its own 210,000 inhabitants, still full of hidden places to enjoy nature and culture. Archeologists are still working on recovering the past.
Durrës is hard to miss if you visit Albania because most of the country’s infrastructure connections go through here, so it’s easy for you to reach other destinations on your travels.
Besides history, Durres area also offers some nice beaches to the north of the city. These beaches are reachable with bicycle or if you have a car you can even reach some more remote bays.
Arriving in Durrës, you can spend a couple days enjoying the city’s history, sharing your time among good food, good people, good sun and a good swim.