Durrës Roman Amphitheatre

Durrës, Albania

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 the 13th century, also decorated with frescoes. The amphitheatre was covered over in the 16th century, after the Ottoman occupation, when the wall was built nearby. In 2004 the University of Parma started restoration work to save the monument.

The amphitheatre has an elliptical shape with axes of 132 metres and 113 metres. It is built on a slope of the hill, and inside the amphitheatre there are staircases and galleries at different levels. The chapel with mosaics is preserved. The site currently functions as a museum.

It is the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Balkan Peninsula with once having a capacity of 20,000 people. The amphitheatre is included on the tentative list of Albania for inscribing it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Founded: 2nd century AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Albania

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

WITY TRAVELS (3 months ago)
The Amphitheater is of Roman origin and was constructed under the reign of Emperor Trajan. He launched many building programs besides this amphitheater, such as the Baths of Trajan, Trajan's Forum and Trajan's Bridge. This is the largest amphitheater ever built in the Balkans and once held over 15,000 people. 1/3 of this site was excavated in the 1960s and the rest in the 1980s. It was destroyed twice by earthquakes. You would think there would be room around this amphitheater to keep it safe and protected but that is not the case. There are many houses around it at not too far a distance. It is said that these building efforts have really hurt the long term preservation of the site. In 2013 it was named on of the most endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe. Inside, there is grass and dirt in the middle with ancient areas in the perimeter. There is a chapel with a well and an open window to the center. There are several galleries which are cave-like areas where animals and other items were held which mostly are empty or have dirt and weeds in them now. A couple areas are fenced off as the steps down are destroyed and it would be too dangerous to allow people to enter.
Sarah B (3 months ago)
Closed when we went but was definitely amazing to see nonetheless!
Shake (3 months ago)
This place is amazing,like being back in time.
Catyie Carr (3 months ago)
Could've been more excavated for more stars. GET ME A BACCO FOR MORE STARS ?
Sara Estes (5 months ago)
Well worth the 300 LEK admission. This byzantine era amphitheatre has been partially excavated. Guest are allowed to self guide themselves around the ruins. It is tightly tucked between homes. You can climb the steps and imagine yourself watching gladiators 2000 years ago.
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Heraclea Lyncestis

Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.

Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.

The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.

Late Antiquity and Byzantine periods

In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.

The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.

The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.