Hotels, motels and where to sleep
Restaurant, taverns and where to eat
Cultural (and not so cultural) events
Interesting information and useful tips
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
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
Asti and Saint Paul Orthodox Church (Katedralja ortodokse e Shën
Palit dhe Shën Asti).
Fatih Mosque (Xhamia Fatih),
Rruga Xhamia. built in 1503.
Great Mosque of Durres (Xhamia e
Madhe e Durresit).
New Mosque. built in 1937
(Xhamia e Vogel).
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
Durres Amphitheater, Rruga
Kalase. The biggest in the Balkans it also features renovated
Durres Ancient City Wall, Rruga Sotir Noka
(Next to the Amphitheater). Medieval Hammam and the Tophane Well
located inside and around the wall.
Venetian Tower (Rotonda,
Kalaja). is a circular tower at the city center built in the 16th
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
Forum (Macellum). built in the 5th century AD and Public Baths
around and beneath Alexander Moissi Palace of Culture
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.
Lalzit Bay Area (N 27 km). Visit Ishem Castle
and Rrushkull Nature Reserve (Rezervati Rrushkull)
(Kalaje e Rodonit) (Cape of Rodon).
Scanderbeg Castle (Sebastia
s Castle), Rruga e Sebastes, Laç village (N 33km).
Church (Kisha e Shna Ndout), Rruga Kisha e Shna Ndout, Laç.
Culture Palace, Bulevardi Dyrrah. Events
(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
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
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
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.
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
Though surviving remains are minimal, as one of the
oldest cities in Albania, the city was founded as Epidamnos in the
ancient region of Illyria in 627 BC by ancient Greek colonists from
Corinth and Corcyra, modern-day Corfu. The Romans replaced the rule
of Teuta with that of Demetrius of Pharos, one of her generals. He
lost his kingdom, including Epidamnus, to the Romans in 219 BC at
the Second Illyrian War. In the Third Illyrian War Epidamnus was
attacked by Gentius but he was defeated by the Romans at the same
For Catullus, the city was Durrachium Hadriae tabernam,
"the taberna of the Adriatic", one of the stopping places for a
Roman traveling up the Adriatic, as Catullus had done himself in the
sailing season of 56.
After the Illyrian Wars with the Roman
Republic in 229 BC ended in a decisive defeat for the Illyrians, the
city passed to Roman rule, under which it was developed as a major
military and naval base. The Romans renamed it Dyrrachium (Greek:
Δυρράχιον / Dyrrhachion). They considered the name Epidamnos to be
inauspicious because of its wholly coincidental similarities with
the Latin word damnum, meaning "loss" or "harm". The meaning of
Dyrrachium ("bad spine" or "difficult ridge" in Greek) is unclear,
but it has been suggested that it refers to the imposing cliffs near
the city. Julius Caesar's rival Pompey made a stand there in 48 BC
before fleeing south to Greece. Under Roman rule, Dyrrachium
prospered; it became the western end of the Via Egnatia, the great
Roman road that led to Thessalonica and on to Constantinople.
Another lesser road led south to the city of Buthrotum, the modern
Butrint. The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus made the city a colony
for veterans of his legions following the Battle of Actium,
proclaiming it a civitas libera (free town).
In the 4th
century, Dyrrachium was made the capital of the Roman province of
Epirus nova. It was the birthplace of the emperor Anastasius I in c.
430. Sometime later that century, Dyrrachium was struck by a
powerful earthquake which destroyed the city's defences. Anastasius
I rebuilt and strengthened the city walls, thus creating the
strongest fortifications in the western Balkans. The 12-metre-high
(39-foot) walls were so thick that, according to the Byzantine
historian Anna Komnene, four horsemen could ride abreast on them.
Significant portions of the ancient city defences still remain,
although they have been much reduced over the centuries.
much of the rest of the Balkans, Dyrrachium and the surrounding
Dyrraciensis provinciae suffered considerably from barbarian
incursions during the Migrations Period. It was besieged in 481 by
Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, and in subsequent
centuries had to fend off frequent attacks by the Bulgarians.
Unaffected by the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city
continued under the Byzantine Empire as an important port and a
major link between the Empire and western Europe.
Durrës and the surrounding coast became a Byzantine province, the
Theme of Dyrrhachium, probably in the first decade of the 9th
century. The city remained in Byzantine hands until the late 10th
century, when Samuel of Bulgaria gained control of the city,
possibly through his marriage with Agatha, daughter of the local
magnate John Chryselios. Samuel made his son-in-law Ashot Taronites,
a Byzantine captive who had married his daughter Miroslava, governor
of the city. In circa 1005, however, Ashot and Miroslava, with the
connivance of Chryselios, fled to Constantinople, where they
notified Emperor Basil II of their intention to surrender the city
to him. Soon, a Byzantine squadron appeared off the city under
Eustathios Daphnomeles, and the city returned to Byzantine rule.
In the 11th–12th centuries, the city was important as a military
stronghold and a metropolitan see rather than as a major economic
center, and never recovered its late antique prosperity; Anna
Komnene makes clear that medieval Dyrrhachium occupied only a
portion of the ancient city. In the 1070s, two of its governors,
Nikephoros Bryennios the Elder and Nikephoros Basilakes, led
unsuccessful rebellions trying to seize the Byzantine throne.
Dyrrachium was lost in February 1082 when Alexios I Komnenos was
defeated by the Normans under Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemund
in the Battle of Dyrrhachium. Byzantine control was restored a few
years later, but the Normans under Bohemund returned to besiege it
in 1107–08, and sacked it again in 1185 under King William II of
Sicily. In 1205, after the Fourth Crusade, the city was transferred
to the rule of the Republic of Venice, which formed the "Duchy of
Durazzo". This Duchy was conquered in 1213 and the city taken by the
Despotate of Epirus under Michael I Komnenos Doukas. In 1257, Durrës
was briefly occupied by the King of Sicily, Manfred of Hohenstaufen.
It was re-occupied by the Despot of Epirus Michael II Komnenos
Doukas until 1259, when the Despotate was defeated by the Byzantine
Empire of Nicaea in the Battle of Pelagonia. In the 1270s, Durrës
was again controlled by Epirus under Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas,
the son of Michael II, who in 1278 was forced to yield the city to
Charles d' Anjou (Charles I of Sicily). In c. 1273, it was wrecked
by a devastating earthquake, but soon recovered. It was briefly
occupied by King Milutin of Serbia in 1296.
In the early 14th
century, the city was ruled by a coalition of Anjous, Hungarians,
and Albanians of the Thopia family. In 1317 or 1318, the area was
taken by the Serbs and remained under their rule until the 1350s. At
that time the Popes, supported by the Anjous, increased their
diplomatic and political activity in the area, by using the Latin
bishops, including the archbishop of Durrës. The city had been a
religious center of Catholicism after the Anjou were installed in
Durrës. In 1272, a Catholic archbishop was installed, and until the
mid-14th century there were both Catholic and Orthodox archbishops
Two Irish pilgrims who visited Albania on their
way to Jerusalem in 1322, reported that Durrës was "inhabited by
Latins, Greeks, perfidious Jews and barbaric Albanians".
the Serbian Tsar Dušan died in 1355, the city passed into the hands
of the Albanian family of Thopias. In 1376 the Navarrese Company
Louis of Évreux, Duke of Durazzo, who had gained the rights on the
Kingdom of Albania from his second wife, attacked and conquered the
city, but in 1383 Karl Topia regained control of the city. The
Republic of Venice regained control in 1392 and retained the city,
known as Durazzo in those years, as part of the Albania Veneta. It
fended off a siege by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1466 but fell
to Ottoman forces in 1501.
Durrës became a Christian city
quite early on; its bishopric was created around 58 and was raised
to the status of an archbishopric in 449. It was also the seat of a
Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop. Under Turkish rule, many of its
inhabitants converted to Islam and many mosques were erected. This
city was renamed as Dıraç but did not prosper under the Ottomans and
its importance declined greatly. By the mid-19th century, its
population was said to have been only about 1,000 people living in
some 200 households. In the late nineteenth century, Durrës
contained 1,200 Orthodox Aromanians (130 families) who lived among
the larger population of Muslim Albanians alongside a significant
number of Catholic Albanians. The decrepitude of Durrës was noted by
foreign observers in the early 20th century: "The walls are
dilapidated; plane-trees grow on the gigantic ruins of its old
Byzantine citadel; and its harbour, once equally commodious and
safe, is gradually becoming silted up." Durrës was a main centre in
İşkodra Vilayet before 1912.
To Bari in Italy on Agemar, on Azzurra Line
or on Dimaio Line
To Ancona in Italy on Adria Ferries
Trieste in Italy on Agemar
... and there are more ferry operators
such as Anek, GNV, European Ferries and Ventouris.
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.
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.
Railway Station, Rruga Adria. Currently no link to
Tirana (which has been without a train station for some time), nor
international links. Daily trains to Kashdar (a suburb of Tirana,
several services), Elbasan (twice), Librazhd, Shkoder and Vlora (all
once) through the adventurous Albanian railway system. There is a
timetable posted outside of the train station.
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.
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