If you book a hotel in Fier, you are sure to be located in the heart of the modern Albania, with services at your disposal that are decent for every European standard. Enter in the antique Fiera, where the Venetians traded and where even today bits the industrial heart of a growing city.
Fieri is Albania in development, but also the antique Albania: Apollonia, a Greek city established in the same period as Rome, is only 12 km away, with its magnificent diggings, the temple of Diana and the arch of triumph, will not make you regret your tourist choice.
Fier is a city situated in Southern Albania. Fier is located in the south of Lushnje district, in the west of Berat district, it borders on Vlora in the south and on Mallakastra district in the southeast, a district which prior to the new administrative divisions of the'90 was also part of Fier district.3. How to arrive
By air: Via the international airport: “Mother Theresa”, Tirana, 96 km.
By sea: Three Albanian ports have international ferry lines, but the ports of Vlore and Durres are the nearest to Fier and they offer regular ferry lines to Italy. Durres port (170 km) operates ferry lines to: Bari (Italy) and the voyage lasts 3 to 9 hours (depending on the type of the ferry); Ancona (Italy) and the voyage lasts 18 hours; Trieste (Italy) and the voyage lasts 24 hours. Vlora Port (37 km) is connected to Brindisi (Italy) and the voyage lasts 5-8 hours depending on the type of the ferry and the direction of the journey.
By land: The main border crossing points to enter Albania are from Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. The international bus lines are as follows: from Ulqin, Montenegro to Tirana, via Shkodra, Albania; from Pristina, Kosovo to Tirana, via Prizren, Kosovo; from Tetovo, Macedonia to Tirana via Dibra, Macedonia; from Thessaloniki, Greece to Tirana, via Korça, Albania; from Ioannina and Athens, Greece to Tirana via Kakavie, Greece. If you take Line 5, it is a direct line to Fier as the bus goes through Fier to get to Tirana but if you take lines 1-4, you have to change buses in Tirana and then travel from Tirana to Fier.4. History
Until 1864, Fier was a village inhabited by serf farmers, property of the rich landowners of Vrioni family who possessed large estates in Myzeqe. The very first document about Fier is Pukevil’s testimony, who visited “the big village” of Fier in 1806. There are no other earlier data about Fier, but it is a well-known fact that the orthodox church of St. George was built in 1781, as a parish in the place where the new church is currently situated. Also the origin of the name “Fier” is still controversial: there are two hypotheses. The first: that of the scholar Hysen Emiri, who thinks that “Fier” comes from the Italian word “Fiera” meaning “Fair”. The city took this name by the Venetian merchants who dealt with the purchase of agricultural and farming products, in the fair situated near the St. George’s Church, perhaps since the Middle Ages, when this name began to be used. The second hypothesis concerning the name “Fier” is the one elaborated by the scholar Toli Shabani. Its author highlights that this name is of vegetative origin, thus it comes from the plant of fern (brake). Fier acquired the status of a city after the years ’60 of 19th century, when the owner of this village, Kahreman Pash Vrioni called some French architect city planners, who designed a plan for the establishment of a future trade and crafts city. The main economic activity would be the trading of agricultural products of Myzeqe, Mallakaster and the surrounding regions. Immediately, after the establishment of the city, the Vlach people, who settled in Myzeqe area since after the burning of Voskopoje in 1769 by the Turkoman feudals of Southern Albania, took over trade and handicraft. A part of Voskopoja people settled in the summer pastures alongside the plain (field) of Myzeqe e Vogel, building villages-settlements, which exist even nowadays. This population, after settling here, purchased the right from the local beys to build chimney houses and began to practice its traditional handicrafts, farming, crafts and trade. Immediately, Fier determined its economic status as the city of merchants, handicraftsmen and services. A more complete physiognomy of Fier is given by this testimony of the English traveler Edith Durham, who visited the city in 1903. This is what she says: “Fier is a small village, property of a bey with a great spirit of initiative who intends to turn it into a trade center. He has built the market, has erected solid stone buildings, with a surprisingly modern architecture.”5. Population, Religion, Economy
Population: Fier City has a population of 85,000 inhabitants, with an equal ratio between males and females. During the last 20 years, Fier city has gone through some very important demographical changes. Due to migration, the population has almost doubled since 1990, with an average annual growth of 4.4%.
Religion: The predominating religions in Fier are Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim. They exist and operate in full harmony with each-other.
Economy: Fier is actually ranked the third in Albania in terms of economic importance. The main economic sectors in Fier include: Oil Extraction and Processing: state-owned and private companies, including foreign companies as well; -Construction-Food Processing: alcoholic and soft drinks (beverages), olive oil and cooking oil, meat, milk by-products, bread, sugar, flour etc,- Import-Export, Trade: clothing, food, electrical appliances etc., textiles and clothes manufacturing
6. Traditions and Customs
Clothing, garments: The characteristic garment of men was the shirt (line). This type of outfit consists of these parts: the shirt, drawers, the sash, the socks and green-hide shoes. The skirts had 1,015 pleats, whereas the sleeves were long and wide and were made of linen. The green-hide shoes were made of the tanned hide of cows or oxen. A distinct element is “takia” ( a kind of hat) which the men of Myzeqe wore in weddings, on religious festive days, on market days etc. The characteristic outfit of women was the outfit with a blouse and a cape, which consisted of the waistcoat, the flannel, the blouse, the sash, apron, the cape, the long-sleeved doublet, the socks, the waist kerchiefs, the head kerchiefs and the jewelry. The outfit was made of cotton or wool.
Songs: The polyphonic song predominates in this region. Usually they are sung by a person and the other people sing in tune with him. In terms of musical instruments, we might mention the folk orchestra which consists of the clarinet and the tambourine.
Dances: The value of folk dances lies in their compositions which might be primitive, but they are sought after in tour programs as rare ones. The most well-known and original dance is the famous dance of Myzeqe which is danced by two men.
Cuisine: Among the typical dishes of this region we might mention: turkey mix, gosling (or young birds) with rice (oven cooked) baked on special oven, grilled young birds, young birds with hand made pasta, stuffed lamb, stuffed lamb (oven baked), lamb and potato dish (oven baked), rice stuffed peppers (or tomatoes), barbecued lamb, grilled meats, appetizer salad and stuffed grape leaves. Fish cooking is too popular as Fier is situated along the seashore. Some of the kinds of fish mostly served in restaurants are: perch, cuttlefish, koc, mullet and shrimp. Some of the most known sweets include: baklava, rice pudding and revani (sherbet cake).7. Place to visit
The historical museum presents in a summarized way all the pluricentennial history of Fier. An important place is occupied by the display of the key moments of the regional history such as the patriotic activities, peasant rebellions, battles for freedom and independence. The folk material culture, ethnographical culture and Christian culture are also included there.
Bylis Theater, built in 1971, is the main theater in Fier city and is also a very important artistic and cultural facility. A large number of plays, traditional festivals and other various activities are staged there during the entire year. Great work was done in the course of the recent years to include the theater on an international scale, by organizing the yearly theater festival “Apollon”. The theater is located near the City-Hall and consists of 400 seats. Tel: +355 (0) 34 222592.
The ancient city of Apollonia, founded by colonists coming from Corcyra in the 6th century BC was the historical city of Fier and it is situated only 10 km away from the city. Apollonia existed for nearly 1,200 years and it had about 60,000 inhabitants in the period of its highest development and was spread over an area of 140 ha. The high cultural movement of the city is confirmed by the fact that in the 1st century BC, the First Roman Emperor Augustus studied in Apollonia (he was there when he received the news of Caesar’s death). Also the city is mentioned by Cicero in his work as a “Philippics si magna urbs et gravis” which means a great and important city. Apollonia was a very important port on the Illyrian coast which linked Brundusium and Northern Greece and also one of the western points of the beginning of Via Egnatia which headed toward east to Thessaloniki and then to Thrace in Byzantium. Apollonia had its own facility where the coins were made and the Apollonia’s coins are found up to the basin of Danube. If you walk alongside the urban and architectural idea, you will have the impression of a city with an aristocratic presence. All this is reflected into the Ladies Avenue (Promenade), the library and the city’s amphitheater. The monastery of Pojan, a symbol of the cultural and historical continuity lies on the ruins of Apollonia. This monastery dates back to the 13th century. It is built in the Byzantium style and it has been conceived as an interesting architectural group, decorated with mural paintings and with a church which has an uncommon internal space. Thirty years ago, the premises of the monastery were transformed into a museum, mainly to conserve and safeguard the sculptures belonging to Illyrian-Hellenic and Roman periods. Thus, the monastery became a very rich artistic and cultural center which is continuously being enriched by the new archaeological discoveries, since Apollonia is a constant spot of new excavations. The archaeological park of Apollonia is open every day, from 09:00-20:00. The entrance ticket (admission fee) costs 300 Lek for adults (Albanian or foreign) and 150 Lek for students.
Semani Beach is one of the most picturesque beaches in Albania. The beach is about 3.5 km long and about 2 km wide. Two unique features of this beach are: the fine sand and the beautiful pine forests. The sea is shallow and very suitable for family holidays with children. The area contains also several lagoons which are distinguished for vegetation varieties and rare species of migratory birds/ wildfowl.
Divjaka Beach is one of the natural the most conserved beauties in Albania. The sea is shallow and excellent for family holidays with children. Divjaka Beach has an extension of 15 km, white sand bordering on the pine forest, and it is a very popular destination for thousands of vacationers from central and southern Albania. The sandy beach is vast (250 m wide from the side of the forest up to the water in certain areas). Even at the peak of the high season, you can walk up and down and find some privacy. Divjaka Beach offers numerous opportunities to practice water sports, eco-tourism, and to the friends of nature and birds.
Itineraries outside the city
Ardenica- Ardenica Monastery is very close to Fier city. Referred to very often as the ‘Castle of Myzeqe’, it is a cult object of the orthodox religion and it is the only inhabited monastery in Albania. It is believed that its beginnings date back to about 10th century, which approximately coincides with the period when the St. Triadha’s Church, the Monastery’s first building was erected. The southern branch of Via Egnatia- the ancient road, which connected Rome in the west with Constantinople in the east passes very near the Monastery. It is thought that George Kastriot-Scanderbeg, the Albanian National Hero got married in the St. Triadha’s Church, in May 1451. Monastery’s main church, the Birth of St. Mary, was erected in 1743 by means of funds donated by the merchants of Voskopoja. It is the only operational church of the Monastery and simultaneously one of the most beautiful and fascinating churches all over Albania.
Bylis- an ancient city with interesting ruins among fascinating sights is about 1 hour away by car from the city of Fier. In terms of its monumental values, it is one of the most important archeological sites in Albania. Bylis was the biggest city in Southern Illyria and had a dominant position over the hills of Mallakastra and Vjosa Valley. The origin of the city dates back to the 4th century BC when it was founded/established by the Illyrians. The first walls, the foundations of which exist even nowadays, were built by the Illyrians during the 3rd century BC. The ruins cover a wide area, in the shape of a triangle, for about two kilometers. The city was mentioned for the first time in the form of “Bylis” during the years 49-48 BC when the city was surrendered to Julius Cesar and became a basis for the provisions of his army. The archeological park of Bylis has been opened since 2006, and the visiting hours are: every day: 9:00-17:00. The entrance ticket (admission fee) costs 300 Lek per person.
Karavasta Lagoon is the biggest lagoon in Albania. Certainly, the most beautiful lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, it is located an hour away by car from Fier. The pine forest of Divjaka separates the lagoon from the sea. The lagoon is composed of an internal lagoon and an external smaller one. Three channels connect the lagoon to the Adriatic Sea. The lagoon has been proclaimed a National Park and it is the only official location protected by the Ramsar Convention. The Karavasta Lagoon is the most western spot in Europe where Pelikanus Crispus builds nests. Also, about 5% of the population of birds/wildfowl in the entire world lives in Karavasta and often you can see them flying, even above the city of Divjaka. The Karavasta Lagoon is a good place for a visitor in search of adventures, and although there is not a tourism infrastructure in the lagoon area yet, it offers very good eco-tourism opportunities as well as the possibility to see the birds and nature.