Top Historic Sights in Durrës, Albania

Explore the historic highlights of Durrës

Durrës Roman Amphitheatre

The Amphitheatre of Durrës was built in the beginning of the 2nd century AD. It was used for performances until the 4th century AD. The earthquake of 345/346 likely damaged the monument and closed it. An early Christian chapel was constructed on the amphitheatre in the second half of the 4th century. The chapel was initially decorated with frescoes; in the 6th century, mosaics were added. A medieval chapel was built in t ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Durrës, Albania

Durrës Fortitied Old Town

The fortified old city of Durrës was built by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I (r. 491–518), who came from Durrës. At the time, Anastasius made the city one of the most fortified cities on the Adriatic. The ancient walls were devastated in an earthquake in 1273, and had to be extensively repaired. Currently the medieval walls stand at nearly 4.6 meters in height and the three entrances of some of the fortification ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Durrës, Albania

Durrës Roman Baths

The Roman baths of Durrës, dating back to the first century AD, were discovered in the 1960s, during the excavations that also revealed more of the amphitheatre. The ruins are situated just off the big square at the back of the Alexsander Moisiu Theatre, and entrance is free. The pool, 7 metres long by 5 metres wide, was heated by a hypocaust, a form of early central heating used in Roman baths across the empire. Natural ...
Founded: 0-100 AD | Location: Durrës, Albania

Durrës Archaeological Museum

The Durrës Archaeological Museum, established in 1951, is the largest archaeological museum in the country. The museum is located near the beach and north of the museum are the 6th-century Byzantine walls, constructed after the Visigoth invasion of 481. The museum consists of 3204 artifacts found in the nearby ancient site of Dyrrhachium and includes an extensive collection from the Ancient Greek, Hellenistic and Roman ...
Founded: 1951 | Location: Durrës, Albania

Basilica of Saint Michael Ruins

The Basilica of Saint Michael is an early Palaeo-Christian church which is believed to date to the 5th or 6th century. A mosaic unearthed in the basilica also demonstrates how ingrained Christian culture later was with the early Byzantine Empire.
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Durrës, Albania

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.