Durres

Overview

Introduction

This ancient city is Albania's major port. Founded in the seventh century BC, Durres is the oldest city in the country (a dispute over its possession caused the Peloponnesian War, 431 BC). The city's rich history has blessed it with layers of artifacts that are still being discovered. The most impressive archaeological site, an amphitheater that dates from the second century AD, was only discovered in the 1960s. Inside the amphitheater are two Byzantine chapels, the remnants of a fresco and a small mosaic.

Other attractions include the archaeological museum, the former palace of King Zog, medieval towers and the old city walls. There is also a mosque, which was turned into a gymnasium during the antireligion campaigns in the 1960s. Scattered throughout the city are a number of mosaic floors; some have been reburied to protect them from the elements and looters.

Durres is a local favorite for beach excursions from Tirana, 20 mi/30 km to its east. The beaches are south of the city and get nicer the farther away you go from the port. Try to overnight in the area to enjoy live Albanian music at the bars along the beach (there are a couple clustered around the Hotel Adriatic). Ferries from Bari and Ancona, Italy, call there on a regular basis.

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