A city peopled for more than 2,700 years, which was the birthplace of emperors, visited by apostles and other characters of the ancient world, full of legends and very old ruins, which are silent witnesses of a flourishing period, old stories that blend with the rhythms of modern life, broad beaches and mild climate, one of the biggest seaports on the Adriatic coast, the city of famous musicians and poets, old quarters alive with luxurious bars and modern high-rise blocks of flats, hospitable people always ready to welcome visitors and guests. So a city full of life, where the tourist offer will enable you to book and choose a wide range of hotels of all the categories and prices.2. Geographic position
Durres is the main port of Albania, 35 km from the capital city to which it is connected, it overlooks the Adriatic, is connected by regular ferry lines with Bari (30 km), Brindisi, Ancona and Trieste. Durres road with the system has become the road junction linking the north and south of the country.3. How to arrive
By Air: Through Mother Teresa Airport in Rinas, 20 km away.
By Sea: Regular ferry lines connect Durres to Bari, Ancona and Trieste. There is a daily line to Bari, and 3 – 5 voyages per week to Ancona and Trieste. In the summer and winter feasts, there are always additional ferries to meet the great influx of travellers.
On Land: Durrës is well-connected by motorway to Tirana and all the other cities in the country. Here are some helpful indicative distances: Tirana-Durres (35 km), Shkodra-Durres (140 km), Kukes-Durres (222 km), Korça-Durres (209 km), Pogradec-Durres (168 km), Elbasan-Durres (82 km), Fier-Durres (84 km), Gjirokastra-Durres (202 km)4. History
The site where Durres was built is likely to have been inhabited by native people long before the settlement of Greek colonists from Corfu, which in turn was under Corinthian rule. Two carved stone hammers, with a hole, are the artefacts which shed light on the life in this region in the Neolithic and Bronze Period. Some ceramic vessel remnants, which, according to archaeologists, date back to X-VII BC, link the territory of Durres to Greek-Latin cultures, especially to the period of the War of Troy. Appian, a high official from Alexandria, who lived in the II century AD, left us a legend. According to him, the king of those barbarian people, Epidamnus, built a city by the sea and named it after him, Epidamnus. His grandson, Dyrrahchium, who is believed to have been a descendant of Poseidon, built a harbour in the city and gave it his name. Hercules joined Dyrrahchium in a battle when returning from Erytheia, and as a reward for his help, Hercules asked Dyrrahchium to give him part of his land. That is why the inhabitants of Dyrrahchium considered Hercules as the founder of their colony and as a co-owner of their land. But in the battle Hercules inadvertently killed Dyrrahchium's son, Ionian. Hercules himself threw his body into the sea, thus the sea took the name of the tragically killed young man. The discussions about the city's foundation date still continue, but the most plausible is the date of 627 BC. At the time, the city was known as Epidamnus. Life in the city continued undisturbed until 435 BC, when the conflict between Corinth and Epidamnus reached its peak. Athens, the most powerful city-state of ancient Greece, took the side of the colony, thus Epidamnus (Durres) became one of the reasons for the bloodiest conflict in the ancient world, the War of Peloponnesus, a devastating endless war that lasted for 28 years.5. Population, Religion, Economy
Population Durres has about 200,000 inhabitants, and is the second largest city in Albania.
Religion The Muslim religion is the most important, the second is Catholic.
Economy The main activity is tourism, followed by the construction and port activities, good food production and also agriculture.6. Traditions and Customs
Music: Durres stands for music such as "monody" where the song is set with a single melodic line.
Traditional Cuisine The traditional dishes in Durres include:
- Milk and Leek Pie: (the pie stuffing is prepared with fried leek, milk, eggs, pepper and cheese)
- Rice Pie: (the pie stuffing is prepared with boiled seasoned rice)
- Chicken Liver on rolled-out dough: or known locally as tuçmaç (the dough prepared with eggs, flour, a bit of salt, is cut in rectangular shapes which are then stuffed with chicken liver, boiled with onions and some rice. They are then rolled in round or triangular shapes fried and boiled in chicken gravy)
- Roasted Field Dish: (in sliced onions fried with boiled meat and red peppers, eggs scrambled with yoghurt are added, then beef gravy, starch and salt. It is then sprinkled with butter and roasted in the oven)
March 14 Early Spring on the surrounding hills are organized picnics, families exchanged food and drink.
May 14 Festival of the Sea, the population hit the beaches
August 15, St. Mary, the Monastery of Shen Vlash we organize games and spend the night around the campfires.
December 20 Carnival parades are organized in form in the city center.
The Archaeological Museum It was inaugurated on 13 April 2002, on the basis of the materials taken from another much visited museum. That was built by the seaside, not far from the port, on the road which leads to the Currila Beach, on a splendid foothill. The new museum has about 2,000 exhibits, which are classified according to the city’s development chronology. The museum gives you the opportunity of plunging into the 3,000-year history of the city. The subterranean part of Durres, above which the modern city is entirely built, is an inexhaustible source of new discoveries, and for that reason it is proclaimed museum part and is protected by a special law. The Archaeological Museum is across the “Taulantia” boulevard. Tel: 052 222 253 Hours: 08:00-15:30 Admission fee: ALL 100 for Albanians / ALL 200 for foreigners. Closed on Mondays.
Ethnographic Museum opened in 1982, in a traditional Durres mansion of the second half of the 19th century, close to Alexander Moisiu’s Museum House. Original and authentic objects of the traditional handcraftsmanship of Durres and its surrounding areas are exhibited. You will also see there, a rich collection of the traditional clothes characteristic of this region of Central Albania, such as wool, silk, cotton, copper, horn and stone items made by hand. Information: Lgj.1, Rr. “Koloneli Tompson”, Tel: 052 223 150 Hours: 08:00-13:00 ; 17:00-19:00 Closed on Mondays
The Museum of Martyrs The heroes’ cemetery complex of Durres contains the Memorials of Second World War martyrs (1939-1944). Besides these, the cemetery is also the final resting place for the heroes of the Patriotic Movement of the beginning of 20th century. The Hall of War Relics, which was initially inaugurated in 1969, is on the second floor. In the Hall, World War II weaponry and trophies and heroes’ personal items are exhibited. Information: Lgj. 11, Rr. “Aleksandër Goga” Hours, Every day: 08:00 – 16:00 Closed on Saturdays and Sundays
The Venetian Tower the Tower will strike your eyes when you enter into the small square by the Mujo Ulqinaku monument, almost across the Harbour Gate. It is a structure that might have been built on an even older tower. The time and method of the construction are characteristic of the Venetian period, of 15th century, when the city was under Venetian rule. The Tower has a diameter of 16 meters and a height of 9.1 meters. It contains just one floor which has five gun ports. A flight of stairs takes visitors to the crenelated roof. A bar has been built there, which gives the visitor the possibility to watch the sea and the entire old atmosphere surrounding the old city.
The Amphitheatre it is the most important ancient ruin of Durres. It is located right in the heart of the old quarter, surrounded by dwelling houses. It was discovered by the famous Vangjel Toçi in 1966. As soon as you pass “Rruga Tregetare” (the High Street) into the old quarter, or from the big gate behind the Venetian Tower, the amphitheatre strikes your eyes. The amphitheatre is not only the biggest one in the territory of present-day Albania, but also in the western Balkans. It was constructed under the rule of Roman Emperor Hadrian (117 – 138 AD). So far, only half of its structure is uncovered and half of the underground part, but the excavations continue every summer. The amphitheatre is open for visitors Monday to Friday from 08.00 till 16.00. The admission fee was ALL 200 at the time this guide was written.
Durres Beach is the biggest national beach with a linear length of 4 kilometres from the Dajlan Bridge to the Kavaja Rock. It is popular for its soft sand and the greatest exploitable sand belt at a width of 150-180 meters. The main characteristic of this beach is the gradual increase of the seawater depth, which makes this sandy beach ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
Golem Beach lies as an extension of Durres beach. Just like the latter, it has soft sand, sandy seabed and gradual increase of seawater depth. The luxurious hotels and holiday resorts, which have recently been built there, the improved infrastructure and various services have made this beach popular and the main attraction for many people from Albania, Kosova, Macedonia and other places.
Rob Mountain Beach it lies immediately next to that at Golem. Its whole length is dotted by elite tourist resorts and villages.
Spille Beach to reach out here, stick to the itenerary Golem – Rob Mountain – Kavaja – Luz Turn, and then, carry on further to Spille. Nestled among pine – trees, the Spille Beach is one of the cleanest beaches in Albania.
The General’s Beach This beach is 400 m long and 50 m wide. It is the most beautiful in the whole Riviera of Kryevidhi in Kavaja. It is located in between two cliffy capes and it has soft greyish yellow sand. It has a horseshoe form and it is sorrounded by low hills at an elevation of 100 meters covered in Mediterranean evergreen shrubs and bushes.
Portëz Beach it borders the and of the road to Porto Romano, and precisely, where the military area begins. Once in front of the check point, where you may easily park your car, you have to climb the hill to the left. From the hill-top, wherein a very pleasant eatery is located, the Portëz Beach unfolds in front of you with the evocative beauty of a real pearl, offering sweet privacy.
From Durres to Preza, and Kruja If you wish to spend one of your days off the bustling beaches into the peace and quiet of medieval places, then you should take the above-mentioned itinerary. This tour will take you a whole day from morning till evening to enjoy. The Castle of Preza is a typical medieval one. It enjoyed its heyday in late 15th century, but experts believe it was build around the 13th-14th centuries. The castle served as a fortress to protect Kruja from potential threats coming from the sea.
Kruja Bazaar as soon as you leave the town centre and start walking towards the castle, you will have to go through a narrow cobbled lane. The wooden shops will definitely strike your eyes, which seem to be from an old era. The Bazaar street used to be longer than it is today. Many craftsmen worked there including coppersmiths, embroiderers, weaponry smiths, etc. In the Bazaar you will find souvenirs from all the surrounding areas, but the special thing is that you will have the possibility to buy souvenirs which are made in front of your eyes.
The Citadel of Kruja is a fortress of the 13th century. It was reconstructed a century later by Charles I of Anjou, and later by the Albanian prince Karl Thopias. The fortress as it stands today includes the last fortifications made by Gjon Kastrioti and Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg. One of the secrets for its survival was related to the water supply. There are still water sources in the Citadel that have supplied the old town with water since long-forgotten times. The very name Kruja is thought to derive from the Albanian word “krua” meaning “water spring”.
The National Museum of Scanderbeg is located in the Citadel, too. The museum was inaugurated in the early 1980s. It is a very interesting site, full of old items and artefacts, copies of maps, statues of the personalities of the time. When you enter the museum you will feel as if you were back at the time when Scanderbeg led Albanians against the Ottomans. Hours: 09:00 – 13:00 and 15:00 – 19:00. Closed on Mondays Tel: +355 511 222 25, Admission fee: ALL 200