Visit Albania 2013

 

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albania ­ with her cultural monuments old towns and endless beaches remains undiscovered full of surprises we let you into this secret with numerous short trips around albania not only the castles monasteries and old towns offer something special but the new albania is also worth a look albania is experiencing a spirit of renewal like nowhere else in europe not to mention the amazing building boom which has swept our country in the last few years tirana has become a colourful and lively city the countless bars cafes and restaurant invite you to while away your time the hotels offer every imaginable comfort all the rooms are well-furnished the restaurants offer international as well as albanian dishes with service second to none altogether an experience you will never forget 3 3

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located to the east of tirana it has an area of 3,300 hectares it is 50 km far from the international airport or 26 km from tirana the park has a number of 200 year old beech trees that are really worth visiting the park is frequented by daily visitors and it is considered tirana s natural balcony accommodation is available for tourists interested in more than day-long stays it has an area of 1,280 hectares to the east of lura s crown the most picturesque feature is the 14 glacier lakes of lura which are frozen in the winter to the south you can visit the field of mares which has a wide variety of colorful plants and coniferous trees the park has great possibilities for developing eco-tourism this park is 40 km from the town of lushnja or 5 km from divjaka it has an area of 1,250 hectares part of the karavasta lagoon under the protection of ramsar international convention since 1994 here is one of the most important ecosystems in the country the fauna of the park is particularly rich with the curly/dalmatian pelican here constituting about 5 percent of world population of this type of pelican about 40 km to the southeast of vlora this park is where the adriatic becomes the ionian sea near the llogara pass a number of very interesting tree shapes due to wind currents can be observed ask for pisha flamur pine of the flag from the llogara pass visitors can see the ionian sea the sharp slopes of vetëtima lightning mountain and a good part of the albanian riviera it is a great spot for air sports as well as a wonderful climate due to the combination of mountain and sea air located 10 km from the city of korca the park has an area of 1,380 hectares it is visited frequently by locals as well as tourists many drinking water sources such as shen gjergji plaka pllica and others are located in the park with an area of 8,000 hectares this is the gem of albanian alps it is located 25-30 km to the north west of bajram curri town it lies between high mountain peaks and it is a festival of colors and contrasts its biodiversity makes it very important as a tourist attraction valbona village is the focal point of the park its configuration hydrology forests flowers characteristic dwellings and the hospitality of its people make this park an ideal place to visit 4 4

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this park is located about 25 km to the south of saranda it has high scientific tourist and archaeological values as well as a high biodiversity the park is 2,500 hectares the following activities can be carried out in this area blue tourism in ksamil ecotourism in butrint lake fishing water sports etc located in the albanian alps by the cursed mountains bjeshkët e namuna it has an area of 2,630 hectares it is 70 km far from shkodra and is run through by the theth river with a plentiful supply of mountain trout the grunas waterfall is particularly worth visiting also there are many oak trees and a variety of animals in the park with an area of 4,000 hectares the park is to the east of the museum city of berat from afar the mountain of tomorr gives the impression of a gigantic natural fortress here is also the grave of abaz aliu tyrba e kulmakut 1,200 m above sea level every august thousands of pilgrims go up to the tyrba for a week thus stimulating religious tourism it has an area of 27,750 hectares and straddles the borders of three countries albania greece and macedonia it contains the lakes of prespa e madhe and prespa e vogël and their water source it is an area rich with cultural tradition eremite byzantine churches exist in the cave of tren prespa e vogël lake trajani s castle st mary s church and in the island of maligrad the two lakes have now become the balkan prespa park with an area of 1,200 hectares in the region of frashër it is located about 35 km to the northeast of përmet its characteristic is the hotova fir which is on of the most important mediterranean plant relics of the country thanks to its great nature healthy climate and proximity to living quarters this park has great recreational value year round with an area of 2,000 hectares the park is 25 km to the northeast of kruja the water sources queen mother is one of the most attractive spots in the park with clean cold and curative waters the park is frequented by a large number of visitors 5 5

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the famous roman orator cicero astonished by the beauty of apollonia named it in his philippics magna urbs et gravis a great and important city established in the 7th century b.c by greek settlers from corinth and corcyra the ancient city is located11km to the west of the modern city of fier archaeological excavations have revealed that apollonia achieved its zenith in the 4th 3rd centuries b.c in the first century b.c octavian augustus studied philosophy there until he heard news of caesar s murder in the senate and went on to become the next roman emperor the city had a 4 km long surrounding wall encircling an area of 137 hectares it has been estimated that during the developed stages of the city 60000 inhabitants lived inside its imposing walls among the most interesting monuments worth visiting are the bouleterion city council the library the triumphal arch the temple of artemis the odeon built in the 2nd century b.c the two-storey 77 m long stoa a theater with a capacity of ca 10000 spectators and the nymphaeum a monumental water fountain covering an area of 2000m2 which has been visited by the roman emperor sulla as ancient sources indicate in the 3rd-4th centuries a.d apollonia suffered great destruction from several earthquakes which were followed also by the shifting southwards of the nearby vjosa aoos river being deprived by its port facilities and damaged by earthquakes and gothic invasions apollonia went into a rapid decline loosing all its grandeur from the past today the site can be approached easily from the modern city of fier and offers unique views over the adriatic sea and the hinterland excavations conducted by albanian archaeologists near the modern village of saraqinishte mainly in the 1960s1980s on the hill of jerme on the east side of the drinos valley led to the identification of the fortified city with that of antigonea the identification is based on the discovery of fourteen bronze tesserae with the inscription antigoneon in one of the houses of the hellenistic period the ancient literary sources do not mention the circumstances of antigonea s founding or the reason behind its name the various opinions range from antigonos gonatas king of macedonia being its founder to the most persuasive of all opinions that pyrrhus the molossian king built the city in 296 b.c in honor of his wife antigone antigonea lies on a hill about 600 meters above sea level and the wall circuit is estimated to have had a length of ca four kilometers covering 35 hectares the agora of the city has been excavated and a stoa 59 meters long and 9 m wide has been brought to light coins from various city states have been found in excavations arriving from korkyra modern corfu apollonia dyrrachium oricum ambracia but also the epirote league most of them made of bronze and few in silver 6 6

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butrint is situated on a low promontory on the southwest coast of albania south of the modern city of saranda and opposite from the greek island of corfu the site has been occupied since at least the 8th century bc although myths associated with its origins speak of the city s foundation by trojan exiles by the 4th century b.c a walled settlement was established and the city became a successful cult site dedicated to aesclepius augustus founded a colony at butrint and the town seems to have remained a relatively small roman port until the 6th century a.d little is known of the site between the 7th and 9th centuries a.d its later medieval history was turbulent as the town was involved first in the power struggles between byzantium and successive norman angevin and venetian states and second in the conflict between venice and the ottoman turks by the early 19th century it had declined to a small fishingvillage clustered around a venetian castle main monuments around butrint would definitely include the elegant 4th century b.c greek theater with its fine cavea and roman scaenae frons with a capacity of a 1500 spectators the associated greek sanctuary of asclepius immediately to the west of the theater the line of roman-period courtyard houses and bath-houses east of the theater disposed around the forum the ruins of the triconch close to the butrint canal a large byzantine baptistery with its intact mosaic pavement dating to the early 6th century a.d the well-preserved 6th century basilica refurbished in later medieval times the ruins of a 2nd century a.d nymphaeum immediately adjacent to the basilica and the kilometers of high imposing walls dating from greek roman byzantine and medieval occupations byllis has been the largest city in southern illyria but geographers its walls have a length of 2250m and over an area of 30ha in 49-48 b.c the city surrenders to the forces of caesar and served as a base for his large despite this fact has been mentioned relatively late by historians and ancient army stephanus of byzantium wrote that byllis was established by neoptolemus achiles son despite this account the construction techniques date the site not earlier than 370350 b.c around 270 b.c the city was the center of a koinon a political organization of the time covering about 20km2 byllis became a roman colony during the first years of the dominium of augustus and its name became colonia iulia augusta during the late antique period byllis became an important center and several large palaeochristian basilicas were constructed all of them carrying lavishly decorated mosaics 7 7

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phoinike is situated ca.8 km east of the modern city of saranda and about 20 km from the greek border in antiquity the territory around the site belonged to chaonia part of the epirus kingdom and it is rich in finds from the classical to the byzantine period while in the distance to the south of the ancient city lies the butrint lake ancient sources mention the wealth of the city especially during the hellenistic period between the 3rd and 2nd centuries b.c when phoinike was a leading city in the epirote league within the walls of phoinike was signed the end of the first macedonian war the document took of the name the peace of phoinike the city s prosperity continued also during the roman imperial period while during the byzantine period the city records about 10 centuries of continuous life the ottoman occupation of phoinike came abruptly and the city declined by taking the form of a small village a thesaurus a small prostylos temple the theatre hellenistic houses several roman water cisterns and a byzantine church can be seen while visiting phoinike the ancient city of lissos is situated about half way between ancient epidamnos-dyrrahium and scodra built on a hill overlooking the flow of the drin river diodoros of sicily links the foundation of the city with dionysus of syracuse before 385 b.c lissos appears again on ancient sources only at the end of the first illyrian-roman war when queen teuta had to sign an insulting peace accord with the romans in 213 b.c lissos becomes a macedonian port in the adriatic sea and only in 209 the illyrians retake it in their possession during 169 b.c the city is also one of the residences of the illyrian king genthios during the wars between caesar and pompey caesar controlled the city and reinforced its defenses it continued to be an urban centre known by the name of lissus until the early middle ages until 1398 the town was under the rule of the dukagjini feudal family who later gave it up to venice it was here that the lezha assembly was held on 2nd march 1444 under the leadership of gjergj kastrioti skanderbeg albania s national hero the assembly created a political-military league of albanian princes and a common albanian army of 10,000 strong as a response to the ottoman threat it is thus no surprise that when he died gjergj kastrioti was buried at the shen kolli cathedral in 1468 though his grave was later destroyed by the turks 8 8

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oricum is located to the right of the vlora-saranda national road and 42 km south of the greek colony of apollonia according to pseudo-scymnos the city of oricum was established by euboeans who being on their way home from troy were blown off their route by strong winds its geographical position made it an important harbor on the adriatic coast oricum was used by the romans in ancient times as a defensive base in the wars against the illyrians as well as in the 3rd century b.c against the macedonians who in fact occupied it in 214 b.c julius caesar stationed his troops in camps there for several months until they were taken by pompey pompeius magnus being in the crossroads of such influences oricum became a civilized urban centre as evidenced by various archaeological ruins such as part of an orchestra a small theatre which is thought to have seated 400 spectators traces of wall ruins and streets that are clearly seen albeit lying under the water of the lagoon and the nearby marmiroi church this is a church of dating back to the early byzantine period of the byzantine emperor theodore of the 13th century a.d it has a small 6m x 9m main hall and a dome approximately 3m in diameter that is supported by four roman arches the internal walls still feature fragments of murals characteristic of byzantine culture the church has three entrances and is renowned for its complex construction and architectural values to reach the church one has to pass through the modern town of oricum in the direction of pashaliman today oricum is an important settlement which is seeing renewed development shkodra is one of the most ancient cities in northwestern albania it was founded in the 4th century b.c as the centre of the illyrian tribe of the labeates.under the rule of the illyrian king genthios it became the capital of the illyrian kingdom this is the period when the first coins of the city appear in 168 bc it fell under roman rule while during the 1st century a.d it became a roman colony under claudius in 395 a.d scodra becomes the centre of the byzantine praevalis province while in 1040 came under serbian rule 9 9

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the area of todays albania has been populated since prehistoric times in antiquity much of it was settled by the illyrians possible ancestors of present-day albanians the modern albanian state comprises the southernmost part of ancient illyria and the northern part of ancient epirus surrounded by powerful warring empires albania has experienced considerable violence and competition for control throughout its history greeks romans byzantines venetians and ottomans swept through leaving their cultural mark as well as their ruins archaeological research shows that the lands that are today inhabited by albanians were first populated in the paleolithic age stone age the first areas settled were those with favorable climatic and geographic conditions for all tourists which will be mostly interested to that kind of tourism and focus to the archeology come and enjoy the program shown below.welcome to the antiquity of albania kruja as the famous english painter edward lear quotes it as a charming little town all up in the sky our guide will lead you through the ancient history of kruja area its people culture and tradition from the adobe type dwelling places to the ottoman houses and communist flats youll experience newly modern buildings in the city center as well on the top of sari-salltik mountain get off the bus in the city center and start the walking tour toward the bazaar enjoy the architectural values of the cobble stones and wooden shops proceed to the fortress through the main gate skenderbeg museum build during communism invites you to a wonderful historic insights of medieval period do not forget the ethnographic museum which displays a lively exhibition of rich tradition and culture of the kruja people and those who used it as a stopover on their way to central or southern albania leaving kruja and driving to durres city day 1 airport mother theresa ­ tirana arrival in the airport mother tereza airport procedures please send us in advance all the passport and arrival details meeting guide driver and transfer to the hotel enjoy a welcome dinner and overnight accommodation will be in a hotel in tirana day 2 tirana ­ kruja ­ durres after the breakfast meet the group at the lobby and departure for a sightseeing tour in kruja city is situated only 90 min far from tirana city on this day we will be mostly focused in the history along the ottoman empire kruja is exactly the city where the tradition and history are crossed together afternoon city tour in durres which is another site with completely different sight and point of view we will be mostly focused to the ruins and archeology in durres area some important buildings in durrës include the main library the cultural center with the aleksander moisiu theater the estrada theater the puppet theater the philharmonic orchestra etc there are also several museums such as byzantine forum venetian torra small castle open as a bar ancient city wall the exhibition of folk culture open 8.00-13.00 for each day the mosaic of arapaj arapaj village it can be opened only with special permit the archaeological museum and the museum of history check in hotel enjoy the dinner and overnight accommodation in the hotel in durres 13

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day 3 durres ­ apollonia ­ vlora after the breakfast in the hotel meet the group at the hotel lobby for departure program this day we will have the possibility to enjoy sightseeing tour where the history interlaces with archeology in the different époque of albanian tribe first stop will be in durres 14

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apollonia ­ an ancient city one of the biggest in adriatic basin and the most distinguished among 30 others that bore the same name during antiquity it was built on a hill whose tops are respectively 101 and 103 m above the sea level a position that overlooks the whole area and leads through vjosa river to adriatic during its first years of existence apollonia kept close contacts with corfu and corinth and played the part of a trade negotiator between hellenians and illyrians during 5th century bc it became an advanced economic centre with numerous crafts and extended its relations with both the illyrian world and attica and later on with magma grecia southern italy the sight of apollonia is divided in to 2 parts the visitors may have the chance to visit the ruins of the old city and the second one is the museum of apollonia after tour in apollonia we drive to vlora city late afternoon check in hotel enjoy the dinner and over night accommodation overnight in the hotel in vlora butrinti ­ archaeological artifacts prove that during the 7th and the 6th centuries bc butrint was a proto-urban centre but it was only during the 5th century bc that it turned into a full city by the end of the 4th century the agora the boulevard a small temple and the theatre holding 1500 seats were built up the latter one fortunately being preserved till our days the complex of the theatre and other buildings like askleps temple portico baths etc form the most magnificent part of the ancient city during late antiquity and early middle ages butrint flourished greatly the construction of the baptistery which is the most important monument of the early christian period dates from this time the baptistery which has a round shape with a diameter of 13.50 m is laid with multicolored geometric and animal mosaic motifs and bears special artistic values the hall has two rows of granite colonnades upon which the roof rests day 4 vlora ­ saranda after the breakfast in hotel meet the group at the hotel lobby and departure trip this is a wonderful panoramic tour that passes through the jonian riviera some brief visits to traditional villages as llogara dhermi vunoi we will stop to have lunch facultative to llogara area enjoying the nice scenery among the pinewoods late afternoon we arrive in saranda check in hotel enjoy the dinner and overnight accommodation in the hotel in saranda after tour back in saranda afternoon free time in the city center possibility to enjoy the dinner in lekursi castle an interesting sight nowadays combined to a traditional restaurant check in hotel enjoy the dinner and overnight accommodation in the hotel in saranda day 6 saranda ­ finiq ­ gjirokastra ­ antigonea in the morning after the breakfast meet the group at the hotel lobby for departure trip transfer to gjirokastra city on way short stop to finiq area day 5 saranda ­ butrinti ­ saranda in the morning after the breakfast meet the group at the hotel lobby for departure trip driving to butrinti the ancient city just 20 min far 15

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