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

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.

The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).

With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).

Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.

The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.

The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.