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Albania

Main attractions

Berat, Albania
Berat / SarahTz, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Albania is breathtakingly beautiful... and too little known although it is next to such giants in the world of tourism as Italy and Greece. There are some Albanian landmarks which are known better, e.g. ruins in Butrint and Old City of Gjirokastër but it seems - there is a lot more in Albania that tourist guidebooks and Internet tells us...

Most impressive landmarks in Albania are:

  • Castles and fortifications. Stone fortifications in this country were built by everyone: Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Venetians, Osmans, Communists and others. Some of these castles have recorded the tumultuous history of this country, such as Berat Castle and Krujë Castle.
  • Ancient Illyrian - Greek towns. In the times of Ancient Greece and Rome here existed several splendid towns - Apollonia, Buthrotum (Butrint) and some more. Ruins of these cities provide insight into the life of ancient people.

Natural landmarks

Pëllumbas Cave, Albania
Pëllumbas Cave / NH53, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Caves

  • Konispol Cave - Vlorë. Some 50 m long karst cave, site of important archaeological finds. Archaeologists found here nine layers of human habitation from 6400 BC, Mesolithic and Neolithic Ages.
  • Maja Arapit Cave (Maja Harapit Cave) - Berat. Longest known cave in Albania, 2 643 m long and 365 m deep (2011).
  • Pëllumbas Cave (Shpelle e Zezë) - Tirana. Cave of great archaeological and palaentological importance. Here have been found remnants of cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) and traces of human activity from the Middle Paleolithic period. Cave is only some 360 m long.

Springs

  • Syri i Kalter - Vlorë. The most powerful spring in country, it is a dark blue natural pool that discharges 6,000 l/s from more than 50 metres down.
  • Syri i Sheganit - Shkodër. Enormous spring near Lake Ohrid. Spring emanates from 12 m wide lake which has been explored to a depth of 86 m.
Waterfalls in Osum Gorge, Albania
Waterfalls in Osum Gorge / Alessandro Giangiulio, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Other natural landmarks

  • Gjeçaj Falls - Shkodër. Picturesque, some 30 m tall waterfall, sliding down along steep cliff.
  • Lengarica Gorge - Vjosë. More than 3 km long, very narrow gorge, up to 100 m deep. In some places it is some 3 m wide. Here are some caves, in one are remnants of settlement from the Chalcolithic Age.
  • Osum Gorge - Berat. Spectacular, 26 km long river canyon which becomes especially impressive in the spring, when numerous waterfalls thunder down its sides.

Man made landmarks

Roman theatre in Butrint, Albania
Roman theatre in Butrint / Franco Pecchio, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Ancient cities

  • Apollonia - Fier. Remains of an ancient Greek city which was founded in 588 BC by Greeks in Illirian land. City flourished in Roman times and was an important centre of knowledge. Declined in the 3rd century AD after an earthquake. Near the city are remains of a temple from the late sixth century, city contains also Odeon Theater.
  • Buthrotum (Butrint) - Vlorë. Ruins of an ancient Greek and Roman city which was inhabited in the time period between the 10th century BC and 13th century AD. Site includes well preserved Roman Theater, large early Christian baptistery and basilica, remnants of city walls and many other structures.
  • Byllis - Fier. Ancient Illyrian and Greek city, first mentioned in the middle of the 4th century BC. Here are found remnants of Greek theater (7,500 places) and stadium, later here were built at least five basilicas. City had 2,200 m long and 8 - 9 m high walls.
Gjirokastër, Albania
Gjirokastër / Alessandro Giangiulio, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Medieval cities

  • Old City of Berat - Berat. Historical city in a 915 m deep river valley with numerous beautiful buildings and gorgeous mountain scenery around it.
  • Old City of Gjirokastër - Gjirokastër. Well preserved historical Ottoman town. Most of the buildings in the town were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of buildings are massive, up to 5 floors high.
Berat Castle, Albania
Berat Castle / Peter, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Castles

  • Berat Castle - Berat. Massive fortress built on a high mountain above the historical town of Berat. First structures here were built more than 2,200 years ago but most of the current constructions are from the 13th century. Inside the fortress have been preserved valuable medieval buildings including a group of churches.
  • Gjirokastër Fortress - Gjirokastër. Massive castle and citadel which was built on the mountain which is towering above the historical Gjirokastër town. Fortress has been developed since the 12th century.
  • Krujë Castle - Durrës. Historically important castle, the centre of Skanderbeg's battle against the Ottoman Turks. Defenders of the castle successfully withstood three major attacks. Development of this castle started around the 4th - 5th century AD. Walls of the castle are some 800 m long and were built in the 12th century. Inside the walls is located Skanderbeg Museum and several valuable medieval buildings.
  • Porto Palermo Castle - Vlorë. Impressive, well preserved Venetian Castle at the Adriatic Sea. Castle has a triangular shape in plan.
  • Rozafa Castle - Shkodër. Impressive castle on the top of a hill. Fortifications here have existed since antiquity, initially built by Illyrians and then by Romans. Current walls were built mostly by Venetians.
St. Mary's Church on Maligrad island in Prespa Lake, Albania
St. Mary's Church on Maligrad island in Prespa Lake / Albinfo, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Christian churches and monasteries

  • Ardenica Monastery - Fier. Important monastery built in 1282. Contains Church of Saint Mary with valuable frescoes from 1744.
  • Byzantine church in Lin - Korçë. Ruins of Byzantine church which was built during the 6th century AD. On the floor of the church have been preserved fine mosaics.
  • St. Mary's Church, Maligrad - Korçë. Orthodox cave church on an island in the picturesque Prespa Lake. Contains frescoes and Greek inscriptions from 1369.
  • St. Nicholas Church in Moscopole - Korçë. Orthodox church with beautiful murals, built in 1721. There are four more such churches in this centre of Aromanian culture.
Mes Bridge, Albania
Mes Bridge / Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Durrës Amphitheatre - Durrës. Large, well preserved Roman amphitheatre, built in the 2nd century AD. This large structure has been only partly unearthed. It had a capacity of 20,000 people. Here was built an early Christian chapel with some parts of mosaics still remaining.
  • Kamenica Tumulus - Korçë. Largest tumulus in this region, 70 by 50 m large. Central grave is from the Bronze Age (13th century BC). Until the 7th century BC here were buried more than 400 people.
  • Mes Bridge - Shkodër. Impressive, picturesque bridge. This bridge was built in the 18th century and is 108 m long.
  • Royal Tombs of Selca e Poshtme - Korçë. Former residence of Illyrian kings and their necropolis, developed during the Iron Age in the 4th - 3rd century BC. The five main tombs have been carved in the rock, several are adorned with Ionic orders and other carvings are made in live stone.
  • Zekate House - Gjirokastër. Traditional residential house in Gjirokastër, built in 1812. Impressive example of local architecture with Ottoman influence.

List of described attractions by counties

Albania is divided into 12 counties.

Berat
Dibër
Durrës
Elbasan
Fier
Gjirokastër
Korçë
Kukës
Lezhë
Shkodër
Tirana
Vlorë
ArrowSyri i KalterSprings, Caves

Map of Albania

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