Emerged as a permanent gate between east and west, Durres is the most ancient economic and historic centre of Albania. Considered a crossroad between Greeks, Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Normans, Venetians, Albanians, Turks and Europeans, the modern times city is the descendant of a civilization dating thirty centuries ago. Archaeological discoveries dating from the 10th to the 7th centuries BC attest its inhabiting spanning long before the Greek colonization.
During 7th-6th centuries BC the Illyrians named the city Epidamnus while in 672 BC the city was colonized by the Greeks who named it “Dyrrhachium” – “The city between the two hills”. The Greek era established its development as a naval base and neuralgic node distinguished particularly in shipbuilding with the Liburnan vessels as the most distinctive maritime heritage.
Along 230 BC the city was occupied by the Romans. To the roman historian, Catullus the city was “Dyrrhachium Adria e Taberna”-“The Adriatic Tavern”. Cicero, who took refuge in Durres around 57 BC, referred to the city as “admirable”, reputable mostly for his vibrant and active life.
Under Emperor Diuclisios rule, whose origins were Illyrian, Dyrrachium prospered becoming the capital of the Roman province of Epirus Nova expanding beyond Lake Ohrid and the western end of the Via Egantia, the great Roman road that led to Thessalonica on to Costandinopole and connected Rome with its eastern colonies. Its surviving remain segments are minimal nowadays. It was Via Egnatia that confirmed the city as the most important harbor in the eastern Mediterranean. The prominent Roman geographer Strabo believed that the Via Egnatias’ length was over 535 Roman miles.
During the 7th -12th century the city served as the largest and main Byzantine port on the Adriatic and as a trading center on the Italian coast. Its strategic position and importance made it enviable to foreign invaders.
Among 92-1400 AD Dyrrachium and the surrounding Dyrraciensis provinciaesuffered considerably from incursions and in subsequent had to fend of frequent attacks undergoing a multitude of invaders and occupations.
By the end of the 19th century the ferry routes laid a solid ground for the city as a major link to Western Europe due to its port and proximity to the Italian port cities and coasts.
Arthur Evans, the prominent British archaeologist highlighted the analogy between the importance of Durres to the Italian coast resembling that of New York to Liverpool at the time and controlling it has been one of Latin Europe’s great ambitions.
Considered as the second city with higher population and cardinal economic importance, served by the largest seaport of the country, Durres is the main commercial axis connecting the Balkans to the European Union. Today reputable as the tourist capital, proudly preserving over the years the city’s cultural values and civilization, its’ fascinating historical palimpsest and the extraordinary archaeological heritage Durres makes an attractive modern city with unrivalled charm.
The Port of Durres
Located in a flat alluvial plain on the southeastern Adriatic Sea at one of the narrower points opposite the cities of Bari and Brindisi in Italy, Durres lies mostly between latitudes 41° and 19’ N and longitudes 19° and 27’E.
The Port of Durres is located at the north end of the Durres Bay and south of the Adriatic Sea. Its basin is formed between two moles, with a west-northwesterly oriented entrance approximately 183 meters (600 ft) wide as it passes between the ends of the moles. The Port of Durres has approximately 763 meters (2,503 ft) of alongside pier space on the West Mole and its depth surpasses 10 meters.
The bay of Durres is well protected by its Cape from the north-west winds and the Lalzi Bay by the east winds protruding from the land as well as the southeast winds.
Durres Tourism and Tradition
Durres Beach is the largest along the Adriatic coast and its resounding success is mainly due to its crystalline sandy beaches, full of comfort and easy access since it is only 36 kilometers from Tirana, the capital of the country. Because of its versatility with both a modern and ancient appeal, Durres offers endless activities as it has the largest and most vibrant, liveliest beaches in Albania which buzzes with activity in summer. Durres is also replete with Roman and Byzantine heritage where are discovered the remnants of Albania’s biggest amphitheatre as well as the city defences, the Venetian tower, mosaics and forum dating over 1500 years ago. Near Durres beach is also located the largest archaeological museum in the country where can be admired an extensive collection of the ancient periods especially the miniature busts of Venus.
Everywhere you look there’s a story to be told. There are so many things that make this city unique; from its ancient and modern history, to its architecture, delicious Mediterranean cuisine and way of life. The steadily growing number of cruises adding Durres city to their itineraries, list it as one of the main exotic destinations in the Mediterranean whether you’re seeking stunning landscapes, splendid cuisine, ancient site and history or a new cultural experience, there’s something for everyone.