Europe

Albania Landmarks

Royal tombs of Selca e Poshtme

Due to its rugged landscape and its location directly on the sea, Albania has always played a strategic role. It is therefore not surprising that the Greeks, Byzantines and Ottomans left their traces and that archaeological sites worth seeing were found during excavations.

In the mountains of eastern Albania, in the province of Pogradec, you can find the royal tombs of Selca e Poshtme, which the Illyrians left behind. They are named after the village that is in the immediate vicinity.

Remnants of the ancient city of Pelion were discovered on an 800-meter-high hill directly on the Shkumbin River. Between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC The Illyrians ruled this area. Presumably they made the area their royal seat and at the same time the economic and cultural center of their empire. The royal tombs carved into the rock date from this time. To date, five different graves have been uncovered. The rock chamber tomb is decorated with remains of Ionic paintings on the facade. The theater grave got its name from two stepped seating areas. These were probably used for the funeral ceremony. Grave III is the central grave. In this best-preserved tomb there was a floor mosaic under which the burial chamber was located. In addition to sarcophagi and urns, grave goods such as ceramic vessels, jewelry and combat tools were found. Frescoes and inscriptions carved into the rock decorate grave IV. The last grave V has a stone slab as a false door to the anteroom and the actual grave chamber. Three sarcophagi and various urns were discovered here.

If you are on a study trip in Albania, you should include a visit to the royal tombs of Selca e Poshtme in your travel plan. Due to their seclusion, they are rarely visited and you therefore have the opportunity to stroll through bygone times in peace and feel Albania’s history up close.

Butrint

Butrint is a historic ruined city on the Strait of Corfu. It is located in the south of Albania and is historically very important. UNESCO has also recognized the importance of the city and declared it a World Heritage Site in 1992. Butrint lies on a peninsula in a lagoon. Many travelers, conquerors and spa tourists who want to relax have been drawn to this place in the past centuries. According to the Roman poet Virgil, Butrint is the second Troy, only smaller.

History of the historic city of Butrint in southern Albania

Butrint’s heyday was 2500 years ago. It has become famous for its mineral-rich springs and has developed into a famous spa and festival location throughout ancient times. Many sick people made pilgrimages to the city’s sacrificial sites, looked at fountains and temples, and waited for their recovery. Butrint’s main street winds through the center down to the Temple of Aesculapius and the theater. However, this part of the city was not built until later when it became a Roman colony. Artists from different parts of Europe came here and various theatrical games were performed, but there was still the spa and fitness cult that was carried out in the bathhouses and water play areas.

Settlement by different peoples and their architecture

When the first Christians settled here, the Roman baths became a religious ceremony. New buildings were added. A baptistery was set up above bathhouses. It was even bigger and more splendid than before, with marble columns, basins and dreamlike mosaics depicting animals and plants. Today the place is a place of worship and it is impossible to imagine many study trips without it. Mighty houses of worship were built in later times and new architecture was added in each epoch. Later in the story, the Turks came and Ali Pasha built his structures as well. An acropolis perched on the mountain and symbolized power. There has been an archaeological museum here since 1930, where you can trace the history of the city.

Amphitheater of Durres

The Amphitheater of Durrës (in Albanian Amfiteatri i Durrësit) is a large, Roman amphitheater, built in the second century AD. It is located in the center of the city. The amphitheater is one of the largest on the Balkan Peninsula. With a capacity of 20,000 people, it is not surprising that there is no comparable counterpart in Albania. The Durres amphitheater was discovered at the end of the 20th century. Today it is one of the most famous and popular tourist attractions in Albania.

History of the amphitheater

The Durrës amphitheater was in use until the 4th century AD. In the year 345/346 it was destroyed in an earthquake – the end of the popular but cruel gladiatorial games. A Christian chapel with frescoes and mosaics was built on the foundations of the amphitheater. Later – more precisely in the 13th century – a medieval chapel, also decorated with frescoes, was built. In the 16th century, during the rule of the Ottomans, the construction of the nearby wall followed. A third of the amphitheater’s site was discovered by Vangjel Toci in the 1960s; the rest was uncovered by Lida Miraj in the 1980s. After the excavation by the two archaeologists, the condition of the amphitheater deteriorated, because no efforts were made to restore it. This only changed at the beginning of the 21st century when the University of Parma initiated the restoration of the monument.

The amphitheater as a sight

Nowadays the excavation site functions as a museum. The Durrës amphitheater and the underground passages below can be visited. Inside the amphitheater there are stairs and galleries on several levels. The chapel with its mosaics has also been preserved. The amphitheater is surrounded in all directions by the city of Durrës. It has an elliptical shape; the axes of the theater are 132.4 and 113.2 meters, respectively. The size of the arena is 61.4 by 42.2 meters. Today the Durrës amphitheater has serious structural flaws; his paintings and mosaics are in decay.

Albania Landmarks