Roman 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

Berat

Located in central Albania, Berat bears witness to the coexistence of various religious and cultural communities down the centuries. It features a castle, locally known as the Kala, most of which was built in the 13th century, although its origins date back to the 4th century BC. The citadel area numbers many Byzantine churches, mainly from the 13th century, as well as several mosques built under the Ottoman era which beg ...
Founded: c. 314 BCE | Location: Berat, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.