Durrësi, the biggest seaport of the country, is located 34 km away from Tirana. It is the most ancient city in Albania, with almost 3,000 years of history. Its foundation dates back to 627 B.C. when the Corinthians and settlers from Corcyra invaded the Illyrian territory of the Taulants. The city is home to many ancient archaeological sites and finds. The most notable tourist attraction in Durrësi is the amphitheater of the Roman Emperor Adrian with 15,000 seats, the second biggest amphitheater in the Balkans. During the 9th century, a small church with mosaic-covered walls was built nearby.
You can also see the bathhouses of the 2nd century A.D. and the nearby Byzantine forum of the 5th-6th century with marble columns. One-third of the original wall of the city castle is still standing, and you can even walk along the same road that Caesar himself trod.
The Archeological Museum is a new building on “Taulantia” Avenue. It is one of the most important of its kind and is of great interest to visitors. It contains both the Hellenic and Roman periods .
The most renowned archaeological object uncovered in Durrësi is “Bukuroshja e Durrësit,” a mosaic of the 4th century B.C. Today, it is exhibited in the National Historic Museum in Tirana. In addition to its historical value, Durrësi is also a beautiful place to take a modern vacation, due to its sandy beaches, hotels and metropolitan feel. You will find excellent restaurants and accommodations all along the sea’s edge.
THE BEAUTY OF DURRES
“The Beauty of Durres” is the name of a mosaic from the 4th century BC, which is now exhibited in Tirana, at the National Historical Museum.
The mosaic was discovered by accident during the first World War in the “Varosh”, the old quarter of the city, and it was initially studied by Praschniker an archaeologist mobilized in the Austro-Hungarian army.
The mosaic is compiled using small colorful river pebbles. At its center, there is the portrait of a woman, surrounded by plant decorations.Because the woman, the mosaic is called “The Beauty of Durres”. Some scholars think that the woman in the center of the mosaic is Aura one of Artemis accompanying ladies.
BASILICA OF “ST. MICHAEL
(SHEN MEHILLIT ) IN ARAPAJ
Basilica of St. Michael, is a construction of cult dating in the beginning of the VI century, of the time of the Byzantine emperor Justinian (527-565). Locat-ed 6 km from Durres on the west side of the hill “St. Mëhill” in front of beach “Iliria”. It is fully discovered and has dimensions of 65×28 m. On the architectur-al aspect it presents a basilica with three naves with three apses each. There are two annexes to the north and south side and a porch (inner courtyard with colonnades). Adjacent to the southern nave is located a monumental tomb , covered with a mosaic layer treated in two emblems, the subject of early Christianity, with an area of 54m². The selected motifs, images, the work technique, the multicolor mosaic stones classify this as a unique work of art of the Byzantine period in the VI century, the work of mosaic masters from the city of Durres.