Monasteries in Albania

Ardenica Monastery

Built by Byzantine Emperor, Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1282 after the victory against the Angevins in the Siege of Berat, the Ardenica Monastery is famous as the place where, in 1451, was celebrated the marriage of Skanderbeg, the national hero of Albania, with Andronika Arianiti. In 1780 the Monastery started a theological school to prepare clerics in Greek Orthodoxy. It had an important library with 32,000 volumes tha ...
Founded: 1282 | Location: Qarku i Fierit, Albania

St. Mary's Church

The St. Mary"s Church is an Eastern Orthodox church and monastery in Elbasan, Albania. The church"s building started in 1483, but it ended almost a century later: the church had its first religious services only in 1556. It was built entirely in stone in a completely particular way, with stones carved in the shape of a cross, which can still be seen today. The church was frescoed by Onufri and restaured by David ...
Founded: 1483 | Location: Elbasan, Albania

Shirgj Church

The Shirgj Church was built in 1290 by Helen of Anjou, queen consort of the Serbian Kingdom, wife of Serbian king Stefan Uroš I, and mother of kings Dragutin and Milutin. Apparently the monastery was constructed on top of an existing structure: according to apocryphal documents, the original monastery is mentioned as erected by Justinian, whereas in other sources its existence is mentioned as an abbey starting from 1100. ...
Founded: 1290 | Location: Shkodër, Albania

St. John the Baptist's Monastery

According to the donor"s inscription, the church inside the St. John the Baptist"s Monastery was built in 1632 and painted in 1659. Today the monastery is declared a Cultural Monument of Albania. The monastery includes the church as well as two other buildings which were part of the monastery. The church has dimensions of 17m x 7.65 X 9m. The frescoes are preserved and in a good afresket and worked with componen ...
Founded: 1632 | Location: Moscopole, Albania

Dhuvjan Monastery

The Dhuvjan Monastery is traditionally dated to the 6th century, however, this has been contested due to notes left by a former monk working in the monastery, who alleged that the monastery was built in 1089. The monastery is devoted to the Virgin Mary. It underwent restoration in the 1960s and was elevated to the status of cultural monument by the Albanian government in 1963. However, another restoration project is nee ...
Founded: 1089 | Location: Dhuvjan, 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.