Durrës

Durrës

 

 

Transportation

 

Description of Durrës

Location: 33 km to the West from Tirana

 

Durrës is one of the largest cities in Albania with rich history and plenty of historic sites that date as early as the Antiquity to magnificent, but abandoned palace of the Albanian monarchs of the early 20th century. Durres is located 33 km west of the Albanian capital Tirana. Durres was originally called Epidamnos (Επίδαμνος) and Durrahion (Δυρράχιον), which means "bad rocky shore." This name was given to him by Greek colonists from Corinth and Corcyra in 627 BC. The Greeks found a common language with the local Illyrians and were able to establish friendly and trade relations from which both sides benefited. The city grew and grew rich. Many armies seized and burned it. Gradually, the Greek name Durrahion turned into Slavic Durres or Italian Durazzo. After the liberation of Albania from the Turkish yoke, Durres became the Albanian capital from March 7, 1914 to February 11, 1920.

 

Destinations in Durrës

Churches

Shen Lucia Catholic Church (Kisha e Shën Luçia), Rruga Don Nikoll Kacorri (Center). built in 1907 edit
Shen Gjergji Orthodox Church. built in the 19th century

 

Saint Astia and Saint Paul Orthodox Church (Katedralja ortodokse e Shën Palit dhe Shën Asti)

Church of Sts. Paul and Astia was built on the initiative and with funds provided by the Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and all of Albania Anastasius. The cornerstone was laid in November 1994, and construction work was completed in early 2002. In November 1999, Orthodox Christians welcomed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to this church on his first visit to Albania. On May 3, 2009, the temple was opened and consecrated; today it is one of the most impressive and beautiful religious buildings in the country.

The Apostle Paul and Saint Astius have always been popular Orthodox saints in the Durres community, and several churches have been consecrated in their honor. This temple was erected opposite the place where the church of St. Spyridon was located (demolished in 1967) and the house of the metropolitan stood (now in ruins).

The architectural design of the temple was done by the archdiocese's technical service department, and the practical work was carried out by a local construction company. The church is designed as a domed basilica, two-story, with a gallery surrounding the perimeter. The area of ​​the concrete foundation is 606 square meters, its volume is 6800 cubic meters. The highest of the domes is 17.75 meters, the height of the electronically controlled bell tower is 19 meters.

Outside, the church is lined with white stone, arches made of decorative bricks emphasize vaults and window openings. The roof is made of Byzantine tiles. From the inside, the church is adorned with artistic decorative bowls, pedestals, marble floors, columns and balconies. Part of the interior and furniture, the iconostasis, the episcopal throne are handmade by several masters from Pogradec. Some icons and frescoes were made in the iconographic studio of the Archdiocese, an analogue of the Psalter - in the Nazareth paper workshop.

On the ground floor there is a spiritual center for various events. It is equipped with a modern ventilation system, it includes a library, a hall, stages, a kitchen bar, an office, a waiting room, Sunday school rooms, games rooms, etc.

 

Mosques

Fatih Mosque (Xhamia Fatih)

Rruga Xhamia

Fatih Mosque is a significant monument of culture and history of Albania, located in Durres. It was built in 1502-1503 and named after the Turkish Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The Fatih Mosque is the third largest Muslim temple in Albania. This is the first cult Islamic structure built in the city during the Ottoman rule. The mosque is located near the city center, on the shores of the beautiful Adriatic Sea.

The mosque was closed at one time by the communist authorities, but assigned the status of a cultural monument in 1973. Thanks to the unique architecture of the 16th century, the temple survived, except for the minaret, which was demolished. In 1991, after the end of the era of the communist dictatorship, an extensive program of restoration of cultural and religious monuments was adopted. The mosque was restored, the restoration of the external and internal decoration took several months, during which it was closed to visitors. The minaret was rebuilt according to a simplified project in a more strict style. Funding for the work was undertaken by the state and private donors. The Fatih Mosque is one of the oldest and most popular places of worship in the seaside Durres.

 

Great Mosque of Durres (Xhamia e Madhe e Durresit).
New Mosque. built in 1937
Vogel Mosque (Xhamia e Vogel).

 

Museums

Ethnographic Museum of Durres

The museum accepts visitors in winter from 8-00 to 14-00, in summer - from 8-00 to 16-00.
The Ethnographic Museum of Durres is located in the House-Museum of Alexander Moissi, in the historic center of the city, near the walls of the Byzantine era. The house was built with two miniature turrets, which are connected by such an architectural element as the attic gallery. The outer walls were built of cubic stone.

The museum was opened in 1982 in a building typical of 19th century Durres architecture. In the halls of the museum, more than 300 various items, clothing and handicrafts, traditional for the region, are constantly displayed. Hall number one presents authentic clothes made of wool, silk, cotton, amazingly elegantly executed. Most of the costumes are finished with gold embroidery. In two other rooms of the museum, the stands reveal the life of the family and the creative biography of Alexander Moissi based on original documents. The room has preserved the original ceilings, and the works of the artists depict the great actor in a variety of stage roles. The following rooms showcase handmade carpets, products made of copper, stone, silk, skillful carvings on various materials. There is also an exhibition of works by local artists and sculptors.

 

Archaeological Museum (Muzeu Arkeologjik), Rruga Taulantia 32.
Popular Culture Museum, Kavaje village, Rruga Skuraj (S 18 km).
Alexander Moissi Museum House (Shtepia e Alexander Mois).
World War II Relics Hall.
Koloseo Art Gallery. showcases some of the best work of local painters.

 

Roman monuments

Durres Amphitheater

Rruga Kalase

The Durres amphitheater, the largest and most important structure of its kind in Albania and the Balkans, was built in the late 1st - early 2nd century, during the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan. It has a special architectural and artistic value and can be compared with the monuments of this period in the cities of Pompeii and Capuas in Italy.

The amphitheater is elliptical with a maximum diameter of 136 meters, and its height is about 20 meters. Stone galleries for spectators are faced with white tiles, designed for 16-20 thousand people, the arena was intended for gladiatorial fights. A public building of typical ancient Roman architecture was built in the city center, 350 m from the sea. The base and the arena are located in a horizontal plane at an altitude of 5.5 m above sea level. The seats (2/3 of the total area) are located on a hill.

The Durres amphitheater was discovered by scientists in 1966 during one of the international research expeditions in the area. Intensive excavations were carried out in 1967-1970, 55 families had to be relocated and 33 buildings were demolished in order to fully open the ancient building. In 2008, about $ 5 million was invested in the maintenance of the amphitheater.

In order to wander around the ruins of an ancient building, you need to buy tickets at the ticket office at the entrance. There are also stands with images of the history of excavations, variants of the original appearance of the building. Inside, dark tunnels are well preserved, through which the warriors entered the battle arena. You can sit on the remains of stone benches and appreciate the genius of ancient architecture - from any place you can see the arena and everything that happens there. There are usually few visitors; educational excursions are held for schoolchildren.

 

Byzantine Forum (Macellum)

The Byzantine Forum and the Rotunda of the city of Durres are the most famous and popular historical sites in Albania. The ruins of these buildings are a part of the ancient period of the history of this Albanian city.

Durres, in addition to being the largest port in the country, is the oldest settlement with 2500 years of history. It was founded in 627 BC. Corinthian colonists. Among the archaeological sites, the rotunda and the Byzantine Forum are among the oldest. They were built, according to various sources, in the II or V century A.D. Some evidence suggests that these structures were built during the time of the ruler Anastasius, the founder of the city of Durres. The traditional architecture of that time - the design of urban buildings and squares in the Roman "square" style, with the obligatory baths, amphitheaters, libraries, did not pass by this settlement either.

Throughout its long existence, the city many times passed from hand to hand of the occupiers, was renamed. Many historical sites have been destroyed in the endless wars for control of the convenient harbor and port. The remains of the rotunda and the forum are several columns that have preserved traces of their former splendor. You can touch the ancient history and buildings that survived all the rulers by going on an excursion to this beautiful southern city.

 

Durres Castle and Venetian Tower

Rotonda, Kalaja

Durres Castle is a 5th century citadel founded by the supreme ruler of Byzantium Anastasius, who founded the settlement of Durres itself. The reign of Anastasius in Durres is marked by the fact that under him this city was one of the most protected policies in the Adriatic.

The fortress underwent a large-scale reconstruction in 1273 after a devastating earthquake. The ancient walls with a height of about 4.6 meters and three arched passages, as well as several towers, have survived to this day. The remains of the fort's defensive wall have been preserved for almost a third of the original length of the fortress city. The main tower of the castle was reinforced with the arrival of the guard of the Republic of Venice, it was given a round shape, and during the domination of the Ottoman Empire in Albania, it was additionally fortified with walls. It is now called Venetian, now it houses a youth bar.

On April 7, 1939, the country's patriots fought under the cover of the castle walls when the Italian fascists invaded Albania. At that time, the garrison of Fort Durres consisted of 360 local residents, mainly gendarmes and townspeople, led by the head of the gendarmerie Abbas and Muyo Ulkianaku, an employee of the sea service. They tried to stop the Italian advance. Armed only with rifles and three light machine guns, these heroes held their positions, but were suppressed by the guns of tanks delivered by sea. After that, the resistance was broken, the Italians occupied the city in five hours.

The castle and the Venetian Tower are popular tourist attractions in Durres.

 

Durres Ancient City Wall, Rruga Sotir Noka (Next to the Amphitheater). Medieval Hammam and the Tophane Well located inside and around the wall. 
Shen Mehilli Hill (Kodra e Shen Mehillit). where on 18 October 1801, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos confronted Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard. A basilica built in the 6th century AD with a beautiful mosaic is found here. edit


Others
Municipality (Bashkia), Sheshi Liria, 15.
King Zog's Villa (Vila e Zogut), Rruga Kont Urani (located on top of a hill overlooking the city). This arguably used to be the most luxurious crib in all of Albania, but it was looted in the 1997 uprising and isn't open to visitors now. Reportedly prince Leka has plans to renovate the villa "in the near future", but this has been reported for quite some time. Endure the steep climb up the hill for one of the most spectacular views over the city.
Kavaja Rock (Shkembi i Kavajes) (SE 5 km). is a historic landmark in Golem where once caravans used to pass along the ancient Via Egnatia. This is where a battle between Pompey and Julius Caesar is said to have taken place.

Further afield
Lalzit Bay Area (N 27 km). Visit Ishem Castle and Rrushkull Nature Reserve (Rezervati Rrushkull)
Rodoni Castle (Kalaje e Rodonit) (Cape of Rodon).
Scanderbeg Castle (Sebastia s Castle), Rruga e Sebastes, Laç village (N 33km).
Shen Ndout Church (Kisha e Shna Ndout), Rruga Kisha e Shna Ndout, Laç.
Culture Palace, Bulevardi Dyrrah. Events
Evening walk (promenade). Go for an evening walk along the sea front promenade or along the beach where you can see families walking around or even men with bears on a leash or with snakes entwined around their necks!
Villa Hill (Kodra e Viles), Rruga Currila. Panoramic view of Durres seaside at Currilat from top of a newly reclaimed hill
Seaside Large Steps (Shkallet tek Brryli), Intersection between Rruga Currila and Rruga Taulantia (Brryli area). Sit and admire the sea from up close on these large steps descending into the water

Beaches
Lalzit Bay Beach (Gjiri i Lalzit), near Hamallaj village (25 km north of Durres). Popular weekend retreat and exclusive wealthy beach area. A small resort can be found here.
Portez Beach (Plazhi Portez), Bishti Palles (13 km north of Durres). Nice beach, bar, and wooden bungalows north of Currilat
Golem beach (Plazhi Golemit/Mali i Robit), Golem, Mali Robit, Kavaja Rock (Shkembi i Kavajes) (Follow SH4 and enter secondary road at Plepat roundabout (SH56, SH85) or continue along SH4 and exit at Golem/Mali Robit exit). This is the main seaside resort south of Durres with long sandy beaches popular among Albanians and foreigners alike. Tirana inhabitants have their beach houses and villas in the area for weekend and summer retreats.

Diving
Sea Resort of Golem, Xixa Resort, Rruga Kompleksit (S 7 km), ☎ +355 69 378 8696. Take a dip in the Adriatic Sea water in the biggest sea side resort of Golem

 

History

Surname
The current city name Durrës or Durrësi is an Albanian further development of the Italian name Durazzo, which was mainly used by the Venetians in the Middle Ages. These related to the Middle Greek Δυρράχιον Dyrráchion, as the city was called by the Byzantines. Dyrráchion, however, was a further development of the Latin dyrrhachium. The root Durrës can thus be traced back to this point. The name Dyrrhachium is first used in the 3rd century BC. Mentioned when the Romans conquered the city from the Illyrians. Before the place was called Ἐπίδαμνος Epídamnos, like the Doric colonists in 627 BC. They named Durrës their new home.

Antiquity
The city of Durrës was founded in 627 BC. Founded as Epidamnos (ancient Greek Ἐπίδαμνος, Latin Epidamnus) by Doric colonists from Corinth and Corfu. The surrounding region was called Epidamnia by the Greeks. Around 436 BC The effects of civil war in the city were one of the triggers of the Peloponnesian War. In the 4th century BC The city-state (Polis) became in fact part of the Kingdom of Cassander and Pyrrhos' I of Macedonia. In 312 BC For a short time the Illyrian Taulantier conquered the city from the hinterland.

After the Illyrian Wars, Epidamnos came in 229 BC. Under Roman protectorate. Henceforth the Romans called it Dyrrhachium (Greek Dyrrháchion Δυρράχιον), allegedly because the word part -damnos in Latin ears promised bad luck. The city became one of the starting points of the Via Egnatia, which connected the Adriatic Sea with Byzantium. Another starting point was Apollonia, 65 kilometers to the south, which at that time was still by the sea. In Brindisi, 150 kilometers away, on the opposite side of the Adriatic, ended the Via Appia, which connected Rome with the southeast of the Italian peninsula and continued in the Via Egnatia. According to the Roman poet Catullus, the city of Durrachium Hadriae tabernam - "the taberna of the Adriatic" - was one of the resting places for Romans who sailed on the Adriatic, as Catullus himself did in 56 BC. Had made.

In 48 BC It came a little south of the city on the occasion of the Roman civil wars to the battle of Dyrrhachium between the two opponents Gaius Iulius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Since the citizens of the city had supported Pompey, they were severely punished after Caesar's victory. Emperor Augustus made Dyrrhachium around the year 25 BC. To a veterans' colony called Colonia Iulia Augusta Veneria Dyrrachinorum and settled here numerous legionnaires who had served him in the civil war up to the battle of Actium. With that the city lost its Greek character. Although under provincial administration, the city had the status of a civitas libera and the ius Italicum during the imperial period.

Durrës was said to be one of the first cities on the Balkan Peninsula and in Europe in general to accept a Christian community. Some Christian families are said to have lived in the port city as early as 58 AD. Some historians also assume that the apostle Paul of Tarsus himself visited the city between 53 and 58 AD. The Christian saint Astios is said to have worked in Durrës around the year 100 and suffered martyrdom under Emperor Trajan. According to later legends, many Christians fled from Italy to what is now Albania in his day to escape the persecution of Christians; However, these reports are considered unhistorical, as there was no persecution of Christians in Italy at the time in question.

At the end of the 3rd century AD, Dyrrhachium became the capital of the newly formed province of Epirus nova. Around 430 the city was the birthplace of the future emperor Anastastius, who ruled Ostrom between 491 and 518. Anastasius gave the order to expand the defenses of the city, which had been in a very bad condition since the invasion of the Goths and a devastating earthquake of 345. After another earthquake in 518, they were improved by Emperor Justin I and completed by Emperor Justinian.

Changing rulers in the Middle Ages
Early middle ages

In the Middle Ages, Durrës (now called Dyrrháchion Δυρράχιον in Middle Greek) was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire for a long time, the most important city of which it was on the other side of the Balkan Peninsula. But throughout the Middle Ages, Durrës was fiercely contested and was under various foreign rule. At the end of the 9th century, the Bulgarians under their Tsar Simeon I penetrated as far as the Adriatic coast and incorporated the city into their First Empire. Between 1000 and 1018 it was fiercely fought between the two parties and changed hands several times before it became Byzantine again for a long time after the defeat of the First Bulgarian Empire and was declared the capital of the theme of Dyrrhachion.

High Middle Ages
The Normans tried several times to seize the city at the end of the 11th century. In 1082 under Robert Guiskard and in 1185 they succeeded in doing this, but they could only rule over this area for a few years. In 1205 the city came under the rule of the Republic of Venice, which formed the Duchy of Durazzo for the first time. In 1213 the city and the duchy of Michael I Komnenos Dukas Angelos, despot of Epirus, was taken. In 1257 Durrës was occupied by the Sicilian King Manfred from the imperial dynasty of the Staufer. A short time later, the city was occupied by the despot of Epirus, Michael II. Komnenos Dukas Angelos, and remained with the despotate of Epirus until 1259, when it fell to the Byzantine Empire of Nikaia in the battle of Pelagonia.

In the 1270s Durrës belonged again to the despotate of Epirus under Nikephorus I Komnenos Dukas Angelos (son of Michael II. Komnenos Dukas Angelos). In 1272 the city paid homage to the King of Sicily, Charles I of the House of Anjou, who on February 20th confirmed the citizens of their "privilegia antiquorum Imperatorum Romaniae", the prerogative of the Albanian chiefs December 1274 were interned in Aversa.

According to Georgios Pachymeres, Durrës was hit by an earthquake in 1267. According to Jean Dunbabin, an earthquake in Durazzo caused such a tumult in 1271 that an Angevin army led by Charles of Anjou was able to penetrate the city and thus gain access to the Via Egnatia, which led from there to Constantinople. In the same year a group of Albanians appeared in Naples, worried that they would be absorbed by the despot of Epirus Nikephorus I and submitted to Charles of Anjou.

On February 21, 1272, Charles of Anjou proclaimed the Regnum Albaniae with the center of Dyrrachium (Durazzo) by mutual agreement of the bishops, counts, barons, soldiers and citizens, promising to protect them and to honor the privileges they had received from the Byzantine Empire and proclaimed himself Rex Albaniae.

The earthquake of 1273 devastated much of Durazzo and many residents were buried under the collapsed houses, while others fled to the mountains. The city was only established and repopulated under the Vicar General Anseau de Cayeux, who was sent to Albania in May 1273, followed by an important mercenary army. Cayeux died in the same year and the high command temporarily passed to the leader of the royal troops, Jean de Bussy. In April 1274 the new captain general and vicar, Norjaud de Toucy, was sent to Durazzo to definitively settle the affairs of Albania. Paolo (Paulus) Groppa, Herr von Ohrid and his father-in-law Gjon Muzaka (also: Gjin; German Johannes) appeared immediately before him as “ambassadors of the Albanians”, who assured them of the devotion of their compatriots. Nevertheless, Toucy had the city fortified.

With the Angevin rule, Catholicism gained ground in Durrës (called Durazzo in Italian at the time). In 1278 the Dominicans founded their first monastery in Albania here. A Jewish community is also mentioned for the first time in 1281.

Late Middle Ages
In 1292 Durrës fell to the Serbs, but was recaptured by Philip I of Taranto in 1304. In 1317 or 1318 the Serbian Empire conquered the city; from 1320 it was effectively autonomous. In the spring of 1322 the brothers Philip I of Taranto, “Despot of Romania and Lord of the Kingdom of Albania”, and Johann, Count of Gravina, together with Johann's son, Robert, organized an expedition to Albania to recapture Durrës, which apparently was not a sustainable success was granted. The Serbs were able to hold Durrës until 1355, when it passed again to the Neapolitans and then to the Albanian noble family of Thopia. On March 28, 1368, Venice received the news that Durrës had been conquered by Karl Thopia, "Prince of Albania". This ended the Angevin rule in Epiros.

 

Under Karl Thopia
In 1385 war broke out and Balša II snatched Durrës from Karl Thopia for a short time. In the same year there was the battle of Savra (September 18, 1385) in the Myzeqe on the Vjosa between Elbasan and Lushnja. Karl Thopia called on the Ottomans for help and Sultan Murad I sent him an army of 40,000 men from Macedonia under the Grand Vizier Khaireddin. Balša II was killed and his head was brought to the Ottoman capital Edirne as a trophy.

Charles tried to consolidate his rule through a close connection to the Republic of Venice, so that in 1386 he sent Bishop Johann von Bergana to Venice and offered the Republic to support them with 600 ducats in every war, to deliver grain and to their merchants in his country protect. In return, Karl asked for a galley to be delivered to him, to be allowed to recruit shooters for his fortress in Venice, as well as to intervene if enemies threatened him. On August 17, 1386, Nicolò Foscari, on behalf of the Senate, concluded a formal agreement with the bishop as procurator of "Karl Thopia, Prince of Albania and Lord of Durachium", in which all points concerned were guaranteed. Soon afterwards the Ottomans threatened Durrës, so that the Gulf captain (Italian: Capitano di Golfo, the commander in chief of the Venetian fleet in the Adriatic) received the order with Document No. 407 of March 30, 1387 to protect the "great Mr. Carolum Topiam" and to ensure that Durrës does not fall into enemy hands. In April 1387 Karl Thopia received a new galley for the sole defense against the Ottomans. When Karl died in January 1888, the Venetian consul Antonio de Pieri Pizzoli informed Venice on January 30th that the Ottomans were at the gates of the city. Venice responded on February 28, exhorting the inhabitants to obey and calling on the new prince of Albania, Georg Thopia, son of the late Karl Thopia, to resist the Ottomans.

Under Georg Thopia
The new prince of Durrës, Georg Thopia (1388-1392), was so threatened by the Ottomans that he threw himself completely into Venice's arms as early as 1388. On March 19, 1388, the Senate agreed to support him with grain and troops (25 ballistarios) and, if he wished, to take over the city; in the event of his death, Venice had decided to take over his inheritance. When the Ottomans pushed again in October, envoy of George and Comita Muzaka (widow of Balša II.) Appeared in Venice, where they stayed until February 1389.

The golf captain Saraceno Dandolo supplied the prince with new troops to garrison. At the same time, Venice sought to win a party in Durazzo that was supposed to ensure that after the death of the ailing George, the Ottoman neighbors did not settle there, but instead the banner of St. Mark was raised. The local bishop Demetrios Resa, the voivode Borilas (the Borla), the captain Ghin Sguro [Gjin Skura] and his relative Progan Sguro (or Pogon Skura), as well as Tanuss Thopia (Tanuss), the cousin of Prince Georg Thopia, proved to be particularly eager .

From the Venetian document no. 439 of February 27, 1389 it emerges that the "venerable" Bishop Dimitri, the noble Thanussius Tobia, the captain Gurenus Schuro, the voivode Borille, Andreas Misachi and Alexius Ricardi of Marno, "all valuable citizens of Durrazzo, from Doge Antonio Venier for her services,“ that the city does not fall into the hands of the Turks ”, should receive 300 ducats annually and that as long as“ the city was in Venetian hands.

George's situation became even more critical than the Roman Pope Boniface IX. He deposed on April 13, 1391, because he would have admitted it with the antipope Clement VII and Durrës Đurađ II. Balšić transferred.

 

In addition to the Albanian tribe of the Dukagjini, who had joined the Ottomans, Konstantin Kastrioti († 1402 beheaded in Durrës; son of Pal Kastrioti), a vassal of Sultan Bayezids I, wanted Durrës to be enfeoffed in the event of his death Relatives to get Georg Thopia. To prevent this, Venice decided on May 2, 1391 to send troops to the prince under the castellan Paolo da Canale. Marino Cocco (1391-1393) was appointed rector to the prince's side. As Georg's condition worsened, however, the golf captain Saraceno Dandolo was issued a power of attorney to take possession of the town and castle on March 8, 1392, which he was supposed to obtain in a peaceful way so that the Ottomans had no reason to interfere. When Dandolo appeared in front of George, he handed the castle over to Venice and hoisted the banner of the republic. In return, Georg, in addition to the castle church, were to remain in the city and its income for life and only come to Venice after his death. On August 9th, the ambassadors of the “Catholic Prince” Thopia, Archbishop Johann von Durazzo, the Venetian protovist Philipp Barelli and Philipp Zaperinis, citizens of Durrës, appeared before the Senate and asked the Senate, “their lord, who was hard pressed by the Turks loyal to the Roman Church, solemnly securing the protection promised by Dandolo ”, ratified on August 18th by Doge Antonio Venier. Venier promised Thopia protection and mediation towards his neighbors, but at the same time exhorted him to keep peace with the latter and to rule as a good, mild and just prince in general. He received financial support and a new St. Mark's banner was sent to him.

In October 1392 the Venetian consul of Durrës Antonio de Pieri Pizzoli announced the death of Georg Thopia and that the six most respected citizens of Durrës had declared themselves to be Venice. On October 26th, Michele Contarini and Pietro Quirini were appointed Provveditors of Durrës, who took over the city from the hands of Castellan Paolo da Canale and Rector Marino Cocco. With Document No. 488 of November 14th, the Venetian Senate ordered, among other things, the improvement of the port, negotiations with the Ottomans so that they could stop their raids and trade relations with the Serbian Sebastokrator Vuk Branković. In addition, the Albanian chiefs and the faithful in Durrës were to be honored according to rank and merit. In addition, the estate of George was to be settled in favor of his two surviving sisters Helena and Voisava and any claims to Durrës were to be settled.

On February 20, 1393, Francesco Giorgio was appointed bailo and captain of Durrës for two years (until 1395). Marino Cocco handed over the city to him. In April Francesco Giorgo decreed the amnesty of all robberies for all barons of the Thopia family. The most distinguished citizens of the city and the Albanian chiefs in the vicinity received gifts and pensions, according to the Vojvode Borla, Andreas III. Musachi, Progan Sguro (or Pogon Skura), Andreas Resa (brother of the late Bishop Demetrios) and Komnenos Spata (father-in-law of Niketa Thopia (also Niketta or Nicheta), second cousin of Helena Thopia).

Although Gjin III. Muzaka supported the Republic of Venice against the Neapolitans after the death of Skanderbeg when they threatened Durrës, the city was sacrificed in 1479 in the Peace Treaty of Constantinople, which ended the Second Ottoman – Venetian War (1463–1479), and ascribed to the Ottomans.

Parts of the city wall and several of its towers are still preserved from the Venetian period.

Ottoman period: loss of meaning
After the city fell to the Ottomans in 1497, it was renamed the Turkish Dıraç and slowly lost its importance.

Many of the residents gradually converted to Islam (for the reasons for the conversion, see Islam in Albania) and many mosques were built, one of the first among them being the still-preserved Fatih Mosque.

In the middle of the 19th century the city still had 1000 inhabitants in 200 households. A foreign traveler reported in the early 20th century: “The city walls are in disrepair; Sycamore trees grow on the gigantic ruins of the Byzantine citadel; and its harbor, once safe and well built, is gradually silting up. "

Until 1912 Durrës was the center of a sanjak within the Vilayet Shkodra.

20th and 21st centuries

On March 7, 1914, Durrës was declared the capital of the Principality of Albania for a short time. The German aristocracy, Prince Wilhelm zu Wied, ruled the local residence and could only hold the throne for six months. During the First World War, the city was occupied by Italy in 1915 and by Austria-Hungary in 1916/17. On December 15, 1915, a naval battle between warships of the Entente and Austria-Hungary took place near the city. On October 2, 1918 warships attacked the Entente port and city, causing numerous destruction.

When Albania's independence was restored after the war, Tirana was declared the new capital on February 11, 1920.

In 1926 a severe earthquake struck Durrës. As a result, new buildings were built in the style of the Italian cities of Naples and Venice, which still characterize the cityscape in the center today. A villa is enthroned on a hill above the city and served as the summer residence of the later King Ahmet Zogu.

Even before the start of World War II, Italian troops landed in the city on April 7, 1939 and overcame the Albanian resistance in short battles. Like the rest of the country, Durrës was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy between 1939 and 1943, followed by the German Reich in 1944 until the end of the war.

After Enver Hoxha had come to power in Albania and he had established a dictatorship in the country that was based on communism, industrialization began in Durrës. The communists made the coastal city an important location for Albania's heavy industry and greatly expanded the port. In 1947 the first railway line in Albania was opened between Durrës and Tirana.

When democratization began in Albania and the communist regime collapsed in the early 1990s, thousands of refugees boarded cargo ships in the port that took them to Italy. In August 1991 alone, over 20,000 people emigrated across the Adriatic.

After the collapse of communism in 1991, the city changed a lot. Durrës attracted many residents from rural areas of Northern Albania (rural exodus), who settled on the outskirts in underdeveloped areas. The urban area multiplied within a very short time, which caused problems and restrictions in the infrastructure. And also along the coast to the south, mostly illegal hotel complexes, residential and commercial buildings were built at this time.

From 1997, foreign military troops were stationed on a stretch of beach on the Bay of Durrës. Initially they had the task of guaranteeing peace and order in Albania during the lottery uprising. In 1999, however, the NATO base served as a base during the Kosovo war, and then KFOR. The NATO headquarters of the Communications Zones West (COMMZ-W) was directly on the road to the south.

In September and November 2019, Durrës was hit by two powerful earthquakes. During the earthquake on November 26, 2019, several houses collapsed in and around Durrës, killing at least a dozen people.

 


Transportation

Get in
By boat
Ferries from the Italian ports of Bari, Brindisi, Ancona and Trieste go to Durres. Most of the departures are in Bari - in the summer there are ferries of three companies, a total of about 30 departures a week, the journey takes 8-9 hours.

By bus
Buses and furgons usually arrive and depart at the bus terminal with the "DURRES" logo on the outside near the railway station.

From Skopje, Macedonia, buses run through Durrës on their way to Tirana. A typical Skopje-Tirana ticket costs around €25 return.
From Kumanovo, Macedonia, there is an everyday direct bus line to Durrës. The cost of tickets is around 20 euros.
From Pristina, Kosovo, in the summer season there are several buses a day. You should check the timetables at the Pristina bus station, but in 2013 the timetable was as follows; 4.00, 5.00, 6.00 and 6.30 and then at 14.30, 15.00, 15.30, 16.00 and 23.00. There are at least a couple of buses going back at 16.00 and 17.00. Return ticket costs about 12€. The trip takes around 4 to 5,5 hours, depending on whether it goes via Prizren. Buses depart and arrive at the northern end of Rruga Pavaresia street running parallel, and very close, to the beach.

By train
Durrës is the founding place of the Albanian railway. There are several connections to other cities every day. The railways are in a dilapidated condition. However, Dürres is a hub in the 2017 timetable, which was greatly reduced.

By car
There is a road between here and Tirana, the SH2, which takes just over half an hour for the journey. You could fly into Tirana, then drive or get a taxi to Durrës, with the airport connecting to the SH2 by the SH60.

Get around
The city centre where the archaeological sites are located can be toured by foot. Many taxis are available in Durrës. You can find them parked everywhere on the streets with a taxi symbol on the top of their car. There are also Public Buses in orange that can drive you around the city although much slower