May 20, 2012- Day 5 (City by the Sea)


Durres, Albania

We started today’s journey in Durres, a large coastal city. We were accompanied by Beni, the artist, and Xhesi Mane (pronounced Jessie), who works with the UNDP- Albania. Our first stop was the Roman Market in downtown Durres.

The Roman Market

We meandered our way around the Main Square, stopping in at a very interesting art gallery,  and taking pictures of the beautiful White Mosque, on our way to the Amphitheater where we were able to explore beneath the stadium seats.

The White Mosque

One of many beautiful, but strange, paintings in the art gallery.

The Amphitheater was discovered when someone began construction in the area and dug it up. Today, there are still some houses standing on an uncovered portion of the Amphitheater.

Beneath the stairs lie some amazing mosaics, burial chambers, and other mysterious alcoves.

Believed to be the tunnel through which the gladiators would enter the ring for fights.

We left the Amphitheater and had cappuccinos at a rooftop bar with an amazing panoramic view of the city. We took a quick trip to King Zog’s palace, which we could not enter but was pretty impressive (if tackily painted) from the outside, and finished our time in Durres with a delicious lunch at Picante and even better gelato.

Albanian tradition of hanging stuffed animals outside a building is thought to ward off the Evil Eye.

We left Durres and headed to the ancient Roman city of Apollonia, named for the sun god Apollo. On the way we passed many bunkers and residential areas, and began to better appreciate the paved roads in Tirana.

A common site in Albania… cows and bunkers. Seen on the road to Apollonia.

In Apollonia we saw some buildings that were well maintained, and some that were not… The strangest thing is that everywhere you go in Albania there are remains of ancient things that you can’t identify just laying around. Its hard for me to comprehend that some 3,000 year old stones could become so commonplace that they don’t even register as important anymore… but I digress. After leaving the amazing site, we gratefully checked into our hotel in Vlore.

Old Roman Church at Apollonia

Apollonia, Albania


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