Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Albania

Butrint Roman Forum

In 44 BC, Rome colonized Butrint. One of the city"s greatest periods of prosperity occurred under the Roman Empire. The Roman Forum was constructed in the Augustan period (27 BC-AD 14) and later aggrandized in the 2nd century AD. Numerous baths, fountains, and public buildings were constructed during this period. A prominent and wealthy woman, named Junia Rufina, adorned in marble a spring dedicated to nymphs bearing ...
Founded: 27 BCE - 14 AD | Location: Sarandë, Albania

Butrint

Butrint, located in the south of Albania approximately 20km from the modern city of Saranda, has a special atmosphere created by a combination of archaeology, monuments and nature in the Mediterranean. With its hinterland it constitutes an exceptional cultural landscape, which has developed organically over many centuries. Butrint has escaped aggressive development of the type that has reduced the heritage value of most h ...
Founded: 800 BCE | Location: Sarandë, Albania

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

Apollonia

Apollonia was an ancient Greek city located on the right bank of the Vjosë river. Apollonia was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, on a site where native Illyrian tribes lived, and was perhaps the most important of the several classical towns known as Apollonia. Apollonia flourished under Roman rule and was noted by Cicero in his Philippicae as magna urbs et gravis, a great and important ...
Founded: 588 BCE | Location: Fier, 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

Tirana Mosaic

The Tirana Mosaic is believed to have been part of a 3rd century Roman house, referred to by local archeologists as the "Villa rustica". Later, in the 5th and 6th centuries, a Paleo-Christian Basilica was built around this site. The ruins of this Paleo-Christian Basilica were discovered in 1972. In 2002, some other objects were found around the ruins of the house, and today they form the Archaeological Complex ...
Founded: 3rd century AD | Location: Tirana, Albania

Lin Village

Lin is situated on a small peninsula on Lake Ohrid. The Lin area has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age. Archaeological findings from the hilltop above the present-day village include foundation walls and mosaics of an early Christian Byzantine church, dating from the 6th century. The church is included within the possible UNESCO site of the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region. The ruins of the pale ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Pogradec, Albania

Ad Quintum

Ad Quintum was an ancient Roman city in Illyricum, on the Via Egnatia connecting Dyrrhachium with Byzantium. The settlement was probably founded in the late 2nd or in the early 3rd century AD, and continued to be populated until the 4th century AD. Its well preserved ruins can be seen near the present-day village Bradashesh, right next to the SH7 road. The site was extensively excavated around 1968 which uncovered a fine ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Bradashesh, Albania

Byllis

Byllis was an ancient city located in the region of Illyria, today in Vlorë, 25 kilometers from the sea in Albania. Dating back to the 4th century BCE, it is one of the most important archeological sites in Albania. The city, although a Greek speaking settlement was located on the territory of the Illyrian tribe of Bylliones. The later were first attested in the mid-4th century BC, in the description of the geographer P ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Vlorë, Albania

Dorëzi Fortress

The Dorëzi Fortress is the oldest in the Tirana county and dates to the 9th century BC. The first archaeological expedition was performed in 1951. The ruins of the fortress are to be found in one of the highest hills of the Krrabë, at about 479 metres above sea level. It is thought that Dimale may have been situated in the Dorëzi Fortress. The surrounding wall is in its southern part, and is 300 metres long from east ...
Founded: 9th century BC | Location: Dorëz, Albania

Antigonea

Antigonea was an ancient Greek city in Chaonia, Epirus, and the chief inland city of the ancient Chaonians. It was founded in the 3rd century BC by Pyrrhus of Epirus, who named it after one of his wives, Antigone, daughter of Berenice I and step-daughter of Ptolemy I of Egypt. 'The straits near Antigoneia' were mentioned in 230 BC, when a force of Illyrians under Scerdilaidas passed the city to join an invading ...
Founded: 300-200 BCE | Location: Gjirokaster, Albania

Kratul

Kratul was an Illyrian settlement and fortification located in the territories of the Illyrian tribe of Labeates. The archaeological material indicates that life at the settlement was active from the early Iron Age (beginning of 1st millennium BC) until the 1st century AD. Kratul fortification represents a good example that sheds light on the typology of military architecture among Illyrians. The fortification wall enclo ...
Founded: 1000 BCE | Location: Postribë, Albania

Shurdhah Island

Shurdhah Island is located in the Vau i Dejës Reservoir, which is fed and drained by the river Drin. Sarda was founded between the 6th and 7th centuries. The town was strategically located on the old road from the Adriatic Sea to Dardania and served as a resting point along the trade route. The settlement originally had a wall encircling the entire hill it was built on. Encircled on three sides by the Drin river, Sarda ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Vau i Dejës, Albania

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.