When the Roman Empire was divided in 395 A.D, most Illyrian lands were included in the Eastern Roman Empire, later known as Byzantium. This year was a decisive turning point that determined the whole course of events to follow for the next ten centuries of Byzantine rule. The Illyrian territories presented a favorable geographical position – meaning a vital gateway from the West to the East, with the Egnatia route (Via Egnatia) as its main artery.
This tour will be led by Era Xhaferaj, from the Centre for Albanian Studies at the Institute of Archaeology in Tirana, with a special research interest in Medieval Archaeology.
Meet at the International Airport of Rinas and departure for Durres. Visit the archaeological museum and check-in at a 4-star hotel for a 3 nights stay.
After breakfast, visit of the amphitheater and the main chapel in Durres. The amphitheater of Durres dates back to the 2nd century AD and is the largest amphitheater in the Balkans, once having a capacity of over 15000 spectators. The main chapel is built in the amphitheater inner – most main gallery and dates back to 6th – 7th century AD. It is very famous for its fine polychrome mosaics with the representation of the Virgin flanked by two angels.
Lunch in a restaurant along the seaside.
After lunch, visit the Church of Shën’ Ndoj (St. Anthony) in Rodon’s Cape. This is a unique monument in central and northern Albania which shows the employment of Byzantine cloisonné in its masonry. The fresco decorations reveal three different phases dating from 13th – 14 century till 15th century AD.
Coatch back to Durres.
Choach to Balldre for a visit at the Church of Shën Prendes (St. Paraskeve). The church preserves mural paintings of two different phases (first phase dating back to 14th century AD and second phase dating back to 16th century AD) and shows an interesting mingling of Gothic and Byzantine styles.
Lunch in Lezhë and later on continue the trip to Rubik for a visit at the monastery church of Shelbuemit (Saviour). The monument is a unique example that shows the cultural symbiosis of the Romanic – Gothic architecture with byzantine-style fresco decorations, dating back to the 12th century AD and the second half of the 13th century AD. The fresco decorations find their references in the art of Southern Italy and Cappadocia.
Coach back to Durres, with a whistle-stop at Church of Laç – a pilgrimage centre since the 14th century AD.
After breakfast, coach to Ardenice for a visit at the monastery of Ardenice, an architectural ensemble dating back to 14th century AD. Inside the church of the Nativity of Theotokos are preserved murals dating back to 1744 and icons dating back to the 18th century.
The trip continues towards Apollonia. Visit the ancient city of Apollonia, a Greek colony, dating back to 7th century BC. The numerous monuments of the site evidence the importance and the flourishing of the city during Antiquity, where the Roman emperor Augustus was studying. Visit of the monastery of Apollonia. The catholicon preserves traces of fresco decoration of different phases, dating back to 13th century AD and 18th century, while the Refectory is decorated with murals dating back at the end of the 13th century - early 14th century.
Lunch in Fier. After lunch, travel to Byllis, one of the most important archaeological sites in Albania. An Episcopal centre of the 5th and 6th century, where some late antique basilicas, decorated with polychrome mosaic pavements, are discovered. Continue trip to Vlore for an overnight stay at a 4-star hotel in the centre of the city.
After breakfast, drive to Orikum and visit the Marmiroi Church, a cross–in–square type of church, which is believed to have served as a catholicon for a small monastery, dating back to 10th century AD. The church preserves fragments from its original fresco decoration dateing back in the 11th century.
Continue trip to Zvernec, with lunch-stop at a restaurant along the seaside. Visit at the monastery of the St. Mary, dating back in the 14th century AD.
Travel to Berat for an overnight stay.
Visit of the churches in Berat and Onufri Iconographic Museum
Church of Holy Trinity is one of the most important byzantine monuments of Albania. A cross – in – square type of church, with a domed nave and a narthex. The church preserves fresco decorations of the 13th century.
Church of St. Todri, a rectangular church plan which preserves murals attributed to the artistic personality of 16th century Onufri. His work consists of a special stage in post-byzantine art and is characterized by the rendering of delicate forms.
Church of St. Blachernae, is one of the oldest churches located in the castle of Berat. In 1578 its interior was painted with fresco decorations by the hand of Nikolla, the son of the eminent artist of 16th century Onufri.
Church of St. Nicholas, a 16th-century foundation. Inside the church are preserved fresco paintings dating in 1591, attributed to Onufri the Cyprus (Cypriotes).
Lunch in Berat and then travel to Korçë for 4 nights stay.
After breakfast, travel to Maligrad, Great Prespa and visit the church of St. Mary in Maligrad, which has been decorated with murals of painting in different phases (since 1345).
Continue trip to Bezmisht for a visit at the Church of St. Demetrius (dating back to the second half of 14th century AD) and lunch.
After lunch, visit at the cave chapel of the Virgin Glluboko (14th century). The cave is an expression of the organization of the monastic life on the shores of Great Prespa lake, while its fresco decoration is an important stage of transition toward the most advanced style of byzantine visual art.
Visit the Medieval Art Museum, where the most beautiful icons of Albanian cultural treasure are exhibited. After that, visit the Church of Christ Zoodotes in Mborje – according to the donors’ inscription, the church dates back in 1389. The interior is decorated with murals of the late Palaiologan period.
Lunch in Boboshticë. After lunch visit at the church of St. Demetrius in Boboshticë (14th century) and church of St. John in Boboshticë (14th century). Both monuments preserve murals which date from different periods, in 14th and 17th – 18th century.
Coach back to Korce.
After breakfast, travel to Voskopojë and visit of the churches:
Church of the Dormition of the Holy Virgin, the Cathedral of Voskopoja, built by the end of the 17th century. According to the donor’s inscription, the murals were painted by Theodoros Anagnosti and Sterianos from the village of Agrapha in 1712.
Church of St. Nicholas, 18th century. The interior of the church is decorated with fresco painting works of the eminent master David from Selenica and his disciples Constantine and Christo.
Church of St. Athanasius is a large three – aisled basilica, with a domed nave, built in 1724. The interior of the church and the porch are decorated with fresco paintings, works of the famous painters Constantine and Athanas Zographoi. Their work reveals the employment of ethnographic and realistic elements.
Lunch in Voskopojë. After lunch, travel to Vithkuq for a visit at the Church of St. Peter and Paul and the cemetery of the physician Sts. Cosmas and Damian. The interior of the church is decorated with mural paintings, the work of the workshop of Constantine and Athanasius Zographoi (1763 – 1774). The iconostasis of the church of the physician saints Kosmas and Damianos is a masterpiece of art and preserves very icons, works of Constantine from Spatheia (1748).
Coach back to Korce.
Depart for Tirana International Airport.
The price will be quoted based on the group size, meals, hotel quality, etc. Please enquire now.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 60 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within 3 weeks and 100% if within 10 days. Please put your cancellation in writing to [email protected] We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.