The Via Egnatia was a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. It crossed Illyricum, Macedonia and Thrace, running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, North Macedonia Greece and European Turkey as a continuation of Via Appia. Starting at Dyrrachium (now Durres) on the Adriatic Sea, the road followed a difficult route along the river Genusus (Shkumbin), over the Candaviae mountains and thence to the highlands around Lake Ohrid. It then turned south, following several high mountain passes to reach the northern coastline of the Aegean Sea at Thessalonica. From there it ran through Thrace to the city of Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul). It covered a total distance of about 1,120 km (696 miles/746 Roman miles). Like other major Roman roads, it was about six meters (19.6 ft) wide, paved with large polygonal stone slabs or covered with a hard layer of sand
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Meet with Albanian local guide and driver and transfer to the hotel in Durres. Overnight in Durres.
After breakfast we begin our visit at Durrës city, one of the oldest city and the second largest city in Albania, the country main sea port. Durres lies on the small peninsula on the coast of the Adriatic sea. The city was colonized by the Greeks in 627 B.C, it was named Dyrrachium. From the Venetian Tower at the harbor the Medieval Town Wall leads the amphitheater (capacity 15.000 spectators) dating back to the 2nd century AD and containing an early Christian Crypt with a rare all mosaic. Between he 1st and 3 rd centuries, Durres was an important port and trading center on the Via Egnatia ,route between Rome an Istanbul Byzantium. After a great number of earthquakes, much of ancients Durres, sank into the sea or collapsed and was subsequently built over. After the visit of Durres we depart to Apollonia. Apollonia was an ancient Greek city in Illyria, located on the right bank of the Aous river (Vjosa River). Its ruins are situated in the Fier region, near the village of Pojani, in modern-day Albania. Apollonia was founded in 588 B.C.E by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth on a site initially occupied by Illyrian tribes and was perhaps the most important of the several classical towns known as Apollonia. Apollonia flourished in the Roman period and was home to a renowned school of philosophy, but began to decline in the 3rd century AD when its harbor started silting up as a result of an earthquake. It was abandoned by the end of Late Antiquity. Apollonia, like Dyrrachium further north, was an important port on the Illyrian coast as the most convenient link between Brundusium and northern Greece, and as one of the western starting points of the Via Egnatia leading east to Thessaloniki and Byzantium in Thrace. After the visit of Apollonia we drive to Tirana, Capital of Albania. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast we will visit Tirana. Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania. Tirana became Albania’s capital city in 1920. The population of the city proper at the 2015 census was 610,070 and the municipality of Tirana, created in 2015, has a total population of 800,986 (2015 census). The city is host to many public institutions and public and private universities, and is the center of the political, economic, and cultural life of the country.Also we will visit the National Museum and Tirana Mosaic. The Tirana Mosaic is a famous Albanian landmark that is thought to have been part of a Roman house built in the third century. Later in the fifth and sixth centuries, a church was built at this site. The ruins of this Paleo-Christian Basilica were discovered in 1972. Today, the Byzantine church displays some of the ancient mosaics discovered at the site that feature diverse geometrical patterns and depict poultry and fish. It has been re-opened for public on 23 January 2010. The we depart to Elbasan, which is one of the largest cities in Albania, it is located on the Shkumbini River. In August 2010 archaeologists discovered two Illyrian graves near the walls of the castle of Elbasan. In the second century BC, a trading post called Mansio Scampa near the site of modern Elbasan developed close to a junction of two branches of an important Roman road, the Via Egnatia, which connected the Adriatic Coast with Byzantium at the Hellespont. After the visit in Elbasan we drive to Pogradec. Overnight in Pogradec.
After the breakfast we depart to Ohrid but before we stop to Pogradec. The city of Pogradec and its surrounding area, as one of the Albanian beauty pearls, provides much to discover for its visitors. The region dominated by the fantastic Ohrid Lake, surrounded by fields nestled before picturesque mountains, will be your panorama throughout your holidays. The Pogradec district has been inhabited since the period of the late neolith (6000-2000 BC). Near Buqeza, 20 km north of Pogradec, there are prehistoric palaphites built over the surface of the water. The residents of the area are mythological. The monumental tombs of Selca e Siperme speak about their high developed life. Our region has also been inhabited during the Roman time taking a special strategic importance along the road Via Egnatia. After the visit in Pogradec we will drive to Ohrid ,Macedonia but before we will past the border and then we will stop at St Naum Monastery. Ohrid is notable for once having had 365 churches, one for each day of the year, and has been referred to as a “Jerusalem (of the Balkans)”.The city is rich in picturesque houses and monuments, and tourism is predominant. The monastery of St Naum was established in the Bulgarian Empire in the year 905 by St Naum of Ohrid himself. St Naum is also buried in the church. Since the 16th century a Greek school had functioned in the monastery. The Lake of Ohrid, the ancient Greek Lacus Lychnitis, whose blue and exceedingly transparent waters in antiquity gave to the lake its Greek name; it was still called so occasionally in the Middle Ages. It was located along the Via Egnatia, which connected the Adriatic port Dyrrachion (present-day Durres) with Byzantium. Then we drive for 25 km to the city of Ohrid, Overnight in Ohrid.
After breakfast we depart to Edessa Pella in Greece but first we will stop to Heraclea, Bitola and then we drive to Edessa Pella, Greece. Bitola is a city in the southwestern part of the Republic of Macedonia. The city is an administrative, cultural, industrial, commercial, and educational center. It is located in the southern part of the Pelagonia valley. It is an important junction connecting the south of the Adriatic sea with the Aegean. Bitola is the second largest city in the country. Bitola is one of the oldest cities on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. It was founded as Heraclea Lyncestis in the middle of the 4th century BC by Philip the second of Macedon. During the Ottoman rule the city was the last capital of Ottoman Rumelia. Then we drive to Edessa Pella ,Greece. Archaeological remains have been discovered on the site of ancient Edessa, just below the modern city. The walls and many buildings have been unearthed so far. The city achieved certain prominence in the first centuries AD, being located on the Via Egnatia. Under the Byzantine Empire, Edessa benefited from its strategic location, controlling the Via Egnatia as it enters the Pindus mountains, and became a center of medieval Greek culture, famed for its strong walls and fortifications. In the modern period, Edessa was one of Greece’s industrial centers until the middle of the 20th century, with many textile factories operating in the city and its immediate vicinity. Today however its economy mainly relies on services and tourism. Overnight in Edessa.
After the breakfast we depart to Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is Greece’s second major economic, industrial, commercial and political center, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe; its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and the southeastern European hinterland. The city is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general, and is considered to be Greece’s cultural capital. The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and 26 other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great and princess of Macedon as daughter of Philip the second. Under the kingdom of Macedon the city retained its own autonomy and parliament and evolved to become the most important city in Macedon. After the fall of the kingdom of Macedon in 168 BC, Thessalonian became a free city of the Roman Republic under Mark Antony in 41 BC. It grew to be an important trade-hub located on the Via Egnatia, the road connecting Dyrrhachium with Byzantium. Overnight in Thessaloniki.
After breakfast we drive to Kavala, the capital and main port of the Kavala prefecture is amphitheatrically built on the slopes of Mt. Symvolo forming one of the most picturesque cities in Greece. The city’s breeze sweeps through its historic buildings, which perfectly reflect the city’s modern character. Kavala is located on the Egnatia motorway and is a one and a half-hour drive to Thessaloniki, Neapoli, Christoupoli, Kavala: according to archaeological finds, the city’s history dates back to the Prehistoric times. Initially the city’s core was restricted to the district of Panayia, which has been uninterruptedly inhabited since the 7th century BC. After 2500 years though, at the beginning of the 16th century, Kavala expanded maintaining these new borders until 1870; it was only after 1928 that it began to shape its today structure. Its strategic and economic importance over the centuries is attributed to its strategic position in Via Egnatia, which traversed the city connecting East and West, to its port and to the natural fortification of the peninsula, on which the old city was built. After the visit of the Kavala City we accommodate in the hotel. Overnight in Kavala.
After breakfast we depart to Istanbul, a great country with full of history and amazing sightseeing. Expanding the ancient Roman colony of Byzantium by the order of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, the imperial city of Constantinople was for nearly a thousand years the last remaining outpost of the Roman (later termed Eastern Roman or Byzantine) Empire. It was finally conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II on 29 May 1453, an event sometimes used to mark the end of the Middle Ages. It was the nerve center for military campaigns that were to enlarge the Ottoman Empire dramatically. By the mid 1500s, Istanbul, with a population of almost half a million, was a major cultural, political, and commercial center. Ottoman rule continued until it was defeated in WWI and Istanbul was occupied by the allies. When the Republic of Turkey was born in 1923 after the War of Independence, Kemal Atatürk moved its capital to the city of Ankara. However, Istanbul has continued to expand dramatically; today its population is approximately 14 million and increases at an estimated 400,000 immigrants per year. Industry has expanded even as tourism has grown.
What to visit: With its long history at the center of empires, Istanbul offers a wealth of historic and religious places to take in. The bulk of these ancient monuments, dating back to Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods, including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), and Basilica Cistern are located around Sultanahmet Square, while some others are dispersed throughout the peninsula of Old city such as Church of St Savior in Chora (Kariye Müzesi), entire inside of which is covered by mind blowing frescoes and mosaics. An impressive section of mostly intact Theodosian walls, which mark the full length of western boundary of the peninsula, is right next to this particular church. Overnight in Istanbul.
Breakfast in the hotel and depending the time in disposal transfer to the airport. End of our service.
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