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Cultural Tours Albania

Durres

Durres (Epidamnos, Dyrrahion, Dyrrachium, Dyrrahin) (pop. 100,000) lies 40 km to the west of Tirana; it has been an Adriatic port of great commercial importance since antiquity and has a long beach. Every aspect of life in this city from the 7th century BC until the present day can be appreciated through the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and various historic monuments, including the amphitheatre, the defensive walls, the Forum and the Christian basilica of Arapaj. Durrës stands at the head of the great Roman road to Constantinople, the Via Egnatia

The sandy beach

The sandy beach of Durrës is about 10.5 km long and is frequented by Albanian and foreign tourists from May until October. Visitors will find at their disposal shops, hotels and motels both in the town and along the coast

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum houses the largest archaeological collection in Albania. In its display cases are items of the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, late antique and early medieval periods found in Durrës and its surroundings

Ethnographic Museum

The Ethnographic Museum is next to the amphitheatre, in a historic house of the second half of the 19th century. Traditional costumes and other craft items from Durrës and its neighbourhood are on display

The amphitheatre

The amphitheatre of Durrës is one of the largest in the Balkans. It was built towards the end of the 1st century AD and would have accommodated 15–20,000 spectators. The gladiatorial and wild beast fights were suppressed in the 4th century; in the 7th a Christian chapel with wall-mosaics was constructed in one of the galleries and the arena became a cemetery

City walls

The city walls of Durrës were built in the reign of Anastasius I and enclosed one of the greatest strongholds of the Balkans. The medieval town of c. 150 ha lay within this circuit. We know from historical sources that in front of the walls there was once a moat and that access to the city was by means of a drawbridge

Forum

The Forum was built in the city centre between the 5th and 7th centuries AD. The paved area is 39 m in diameter, and is paved in marble. In the middle of this circular space there was probably a statue of the emperor

Basilica of Arapaj

The Basilica of Arapaj, built on a hill in the village of Arapaj in the 6th century AD, was the summer residence of the bishops of Epirus Novus. The church is decorated with floor mosaics which depict symbols of the Eucharist and pastoral scenes

Via Egnatia

Via Egnatia was the most important long-distance Roman road; it served as an extension of the Via Appia (from Rome to Brundisium/Brindisi), linking the Adriatic coast of southern Illyria with Thessalonica and Byzantium/Constantinople (Istanbul). The Via Egnatia was paved, was 6.70 m wide and 395 km long. It begins at Durrës and was built by the Romans in the second half of the 1st century BC