The region which is today Albania has played a strategic role in ancient times and has been a point of contact between Illyrian, Greek and Roman civilizations. Durres, Apollonia, Butrint, Phoenice, Bylis hide a wealth of great archaeological value, still largely unknown. The oldest record of the name Albania is found in a historical document written by the Byzantine historian Michael Attaleiates around the X century. B.C. In the Iron Age, the mountainous territory of Albania was occupied by tribes with Illyrian ethnicity. Two wars between Caesar and Pompey and the one between Octavian, Antony and Cleopatra took place in the seas close to the current Albanian coast. The results of those wars had a great influence on the further course of the European history. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Albania was the scene of migration of Goths and Slaves and it found itself in the center of attention in the Middle Ages during the agitated period of the fall of Constantinople. GJERGJ KASTRIOTI (Skanderbeg), the most important Albanian national hero, is remembered for opposing the advance of the Ottomans towards the West.
Arrival in Tirana and meeting with the guide. Afternoon tour of Tirana including visits to the Mosaics of Tirana, Skanderbeg Square, the Mosque of Et’hem Bej and the National Historical & the Archeological Museum, Bunk Art 1. Tirana is located on the site of a Byzantine fortress and has been the capital of Albania since 1920. The Martyr’s Cemetery, Grand Park and various government buildings. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast we depart to Kruja, the medieval town in north central Albania and the capital of the municipality and the Krujë District. It has a population of about 15,900. Located between Mount Krujë and the Ishëm River, the city is only 20 km from the capital of Albania, Tirana. Visit the Scanderbeg Museum, Ethnographic museum the best in Albania, walk through the old Bazar. After visit we will drive to Durres on the Adriatic coast to visit the 7th century BC Durres, the historical capital of Albania. We will visit one of the largest amphitheaters in the Balkans located within the walls of the Roman castle. We will wander through the galleries of the amphitheater, explore the “Enigma of Durresi”, and walk through the main gate to the arena in the same steps where, 1800 years ago, people would cheer the winning gladiator asking the Emperor for his freedom. A visit to the archaeological museum will give us a comprehensive view about the history of this 2700-year-old town, which started, as a Greek colony becoming the largest harbor on the Adriatic coast during the rule of the Roman Empire. Later we will visit the Archaeological Museum situated near the sea. Overnight in Durres.
After Breakfast we continue our drive, towards the 7th century BC archaeological site of Apollonia, the second largest Greek colony in Albania. We visit the Odeon, the Pritaneon, the temple of Diana and the monastery next to the site, which is built with marble and stone taken from the temple and the old Greek theatre. We will continue our day with a beautiful drive along the coast of bay of Vlora, through the Coldwater tunnel, next to the ex-dictator’s villa and alongside the orange plantations of Radhima. As we leave Radhima the landscape changes as we climb up to 1100 meters above sea level through the forest of Llogara National Park. First stop will be a coffee and photo-shooting stop at the top of the pass, on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, Corfu Island and the Albanian Riviera. We continue our drive south through the seven villages of the Himara region. The region of Himara is 72 km long from and rich with natural and historical monuments such as Llamany beach and the 18th century Panormi castle of Ali Pasha, after visiting the springs of Borshi, continue our travel towards Saranda, arriving late afternoon to our hotel in Saranda. Overnight in Saranda.
After breakfast we drive to the ancient city of Butrinti, founded in the 7th century BC by the Corkirians, and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995. What began as a Greek colony became one of the most important towns in the Mediterranean and a Roman colony in the 1st century AD. We will admire the theatre, the temple of Asclepeon, the Baptisteries, the Gymnasium, the aqueduct, the largest Basilica in south Albania and the Venetian castle on top of the town, where a very interesting small museum hosts original artefacts discovered during the excavations. optional lunch will be in a restaurant by the sea near the archaeological park in Villages of Ksamil. Just before sunset we go for dinner to Lekuresi Castle located on top of the hill overlooking the bay of Saranda to enjoy the sunset with views of the Island of Corfu in the middle of the blue Ionian waters. Overnight in Saranda
After breakfast we will depart to Gjirokastra City known as “Stone City”. In the way we will make a stop and visit the “Blue Eye” water spring, formed by underground springs. Continue to Gjirokastra, birthplace, of the former iron-fisted dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Gjirokastra is a strikingly picturesque town, perched on the side of a mountain above the Drino River. The tour includes the district museum, housed in the building in which Enver Hoxha was born and the pre-Ottoman citadel, a former political prison and now a weapons museum. Overnight in Gjirokaster.
After breakfast we will drive to the archeological site of Bylis which is considered as a secret archeological site in Albania. Bylis was once the largest city in Southern Illyria and remained an important city during Roman and Byzantine rule in Albania. Stephanus of Byzantium wrote that Bylis was established by Neoptolemus, Achilles’ son, which means it was found around 11th century BC. After visit we drive to Ardenica Monastery which was built in 1282. The monastery has a Byzantine – Orthodox architecture with many Romanesque features. Inside the monastery is the St Mary’s Church, The Chapel of Saint Trinity and then we will drive to Berat. Then we drive to Berat. Free afternoon in Berat. Overnight in Berat.
After breakfast we will explore the attractive medieval town of Berat, situated on a hill dominating the River Osum and its gorge. Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage town since 2008. Our visit in Berat begins from the 4th century BC castle where we will admire the Byzantine era icons in the Onufri Icon Gallery, located within the old cathedral of the town. Some of the icons date back to the 18th century, the downtown bazaar, the Bachelors mosque and the old town and then we will drive back to Tirana. Free afternoon in Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast transfer to Mother Theresa Airport. End of our service.
Tour Itinerary: Albania Archaeological Tour
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