Old capital

Durres Travel Blog

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The seats of the old amphitheatre

I start out the day by finding my way down the main street of Tirana to get to the bus station to go to Durres - on the way I run into the local hustler who tries to hit me for some cash - yeah they even exist in Albania despite the low level of tourism around here. Fortunately there are not that many hustlers around the city and he is the only one I meet in Tirana.

 

Durres is the old important city in Albania it used to be the main city until the administrative capital was moved from the coast to the central part of the country back in the 1920s.

House inside the amphitheatre
Durres is still an important port and it is the central part of some of the beach tourism of Albania. It is somewhat surprising this city is a major tourism destination given the beach in the city is far from impressive - I figure the only tourist going here for the beach is Albanians living in Kosovo and Macedonia who cannot afford going anywhere else.

 

In the city there is some reminiscent from the old roman times back then the city were already an important port. There were a lot of people living in the city back then - and the Romans liked their entertainment - hence it is not surprisingly you can find an old giant amphitheater in the central part of the city. What is more surprising is when you visit the amphitheater there is houses inside it - and people are still living inside the old walls of the amphitheater. The place had been buried under the soil for hundreds of years and then it was suddenly rediscovered back in the 1960s. But things takes time in Albania - money is tight hence a quick excavation and new housing of the people living inside a historic monument is not on the agenda.

The walls around the old city of Durres
Instead they will just excavate some of the historical sight while people will still be living in other parts of it.

 

I go in the theater to have a closer look of the place. I start walking a bit around and as I do this suddenly I hear a noise - it is bottle which has been through out of one of the neighboring houses - I don’t think it was actually through at me but it is more a sort of expression of the local attitude toward the history of the country. There is actually not much to see of the theatre which I could not see from the street and I quickly move on to see the rest of the city. I start heading up a hill.

 

On the hill is one of the one of the famous marks of Albania - the bunkers. Albania is covered in small one man bunkers made of concrete. The bunkers are constructed so they could withstand direct fire from a tank - hence they are virtually indestructible.

Old partisan hero
So if you got one of the bunkers on your property you pretty much just have to learn to live with it. The bunkers was part of the Albania strategy of defense - it was not really clear to me who the enemy would be - if the enemy would come from east or west, land or sea, internal or external, real or imaginative. But still the country built an enormous number of bunkers during Hoxhas reign in Albania.

 

The number of bunkers which were built is unknown but estimates are around 700.000. If you want to put it into a bit of perspective then the USA should build about 75 millions if there should be the same number of bunkers per capita as was the case in Albania back in 1985 when the last of the bunkers were build. If there should be the same number of bunkers per square mile in the USA there should be an amazing 240 million bunkers in the USA - of course a great deal of those would be in Alaska. The idea behind the bunkers was every Albanian man capable of using a gun should have a bunker from where he could defend the country.

One of the many bunkers
Wears I can see the idea in this I have my doubt the concept were ever a feasible one. Considering the means of communications in Albania back in those days I find it highly questionable if the regime would ever have been able to notify the relevant people they were to go to the local bunker to defend the country and distribute the guns - before the enemy would have conquer all of Albania. Today the bunkers have got no use - but they do serve as a lasting legacy to remind everybody about crazy policy of the old regime.

 

I was not actually walking up the hill to study the bunkers - it was only a side effect. I was walking up the hill to go and see the old palace of King Zug. He was a bit of a crazy man making himself the king of Albania back in the 1920s - he allied himself with Mussolini but Mussolini did not pay him back the way he expected - instead Mussolini conquered Albania to rule the country as an Italian colony instead. King Zug was not really a man of the people and if you should judge him today his policy was not up to the standards we would like.

Bunker - now part of the fence
But with Hoxha coming after him the Albanian kind remember him with some fondness like a representative of the good old days before the communist.

 

His palace is up the hill in an area which is sort of a military area and there is some barbed wire around it. But I am let in to have a look around. The palace has got a really nice location and it probably used to be a very impressive building. But it has fallen into hopeless disrepair. The roof is falling down all over the palace - the floor is destroyed - the railings on the stair have disappeared on certain parts of the stair. I am not sure when exactly the destruction has taken place if it was in the period of use as a military area - or if it happened during the riots in 1997 after the end of the big poonzi like scam which plagued Albania back then.

 

After the visit to the palace I try to walk further up the hill to a small lighthouse I thought it would be a piece of cake.

The stairway inside king Zugs palace
The walk up the hill were pretty straight forward but unfortunately the lighthouse had a fence around it hence it were not possible to get up on top. I had to settle with the view from just below the lighthouse.

 

Walking down the hill I want to find an old little citadel. I walk back and forth to find this place - but I can’t find it. I am sure I am at the right place so the citadel gotta be right here. Then suddenly I realize I have found the citadel - actually I have been walking around it for a while. The citadel is just not what I expect - like a museum area. Instead the citadel is an integrated part of the city with houses all around inside the place where the citadel used to be.

 

The last stop I do in the city is a short trip to the old museum in the town. The museum looks really big from the outside - but inside it is not. The museum only uses the ground floor while the rest of the museum is closed.

King Zug's palace
I guess is simply lack of funds which prevents the rest of the museum from being used. I gotta admit the number of visitors is not all that impressive - I am the only one. Hence it is easy to understand how money can be a little tight. Because the museum is not really done yet it only got an exhibition of the classic period - the byzantine era is supposed to be on the second floor of the museum.

Chokk says:
I remember all the bunkers I saw in the Northern part of Albania - I liked that they had been coloured in yellow and red today.

Kanon tur du er på:)
Posted on: Apr 23, 2009
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The seats of the old amphitheatre
The seats of the old amphitheatre
House inside the amphitheatre
House inside the amphitheatre
The walls around the old city of D…
The walls around the old city of …
Old partisan hero
Old partisan hero
One of the many bunkers
One of the many bunkers
Bunker - now part of the fence
Bunker - now part of the fence
The stairway inside king Zugs pala…
The stairway inside king Zugs pal…
King Zugs palace
King Zug's palace
The new mosque in town
The new mosque in town
New houses - possibly for tourist
New houses - possibly for tourist
Tunnel under the amphitheatre
Tunnel under the amphitheatre
The lawn inside the amphitheater
The lawn inside the amphitheater
The seats of the theatre
The seats of the theatre
Ruins inside the amphitheatre
Ruins inside the amphitheatre
House inside the amphitheatre
House inside the amphitheatre
House inside the amphitheatre
House inside the amphitheatre
The central stage for the fighting
The central stage for the fighting
The walls around the old city of D…
The walls around the old city of …
The walls around the old city of D…
The walls around the old city of …
The walls around the old city of D…
The walls around the old city of …
The walls around the old city of D…
The walls around the old city of …
Men playing dominos in front of th…
Men playing dominos in front of t…
The old heroes of the war time
The old heroes of the war time
The walls around the old city of D…
The walls around the old city of …
The beach dont look all that attra…
The beach dont look all that attr…
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
The palace of king Zug
The palace of king Zug
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
The coastline
Another beach part - still not att…
Another beach part - still not at…
More bunkers
More bunkers
More bunkers
More bunkers
The seeling inside king Zugs palace
The seeling inside king Zugs palace
The stairway inside king Zugs pala…
The stairway inside king Zugs pal…
The view from one of the balconies…
The view from one of the balconie…
The view from one of the balconies…
The view from one of the balconie…
The view from one of the balconies…
The view from one of the balconie…
The Albanian eagle inside king Zug…
The Albanian eagle inside king Zu…
One place which looked almost in g…
One place which looked almost in …
Kings palace
Kings palace
King Zugs palace
King Zug's palace
The view from one of the balconies…
The view from one of the balconie…
The lighthouse
The lighthouse
The view from the lighthouse
The view from the lighthouse
The view from the lighthouse
The view from the lighthouse
King Zugs palace
King Zug's palace
The kings palace
The kings palace
The kings palace
The kings palace
The harbor in Durres
The harbor in Durres
Ships off shore
Ships off shore
Looking down at the coast
Looking down at the coast
The new mosque in town
The new mosque in town
The harbor
The harbor
Modern town
Modern town
Old citadel in town
Old citadel in town
New church in town
New church in town
Sign at the gasstaion - named afte…
Sign at the gasstaion - named aft…
The window in the middle of the mu…
The window in the middle of the m…
Durres Sights & Attractions review
Archeological museum
Down close to the water in Durres you can find the small archeological museum. Just outside the museum you can see what looks like a bit of rubbles - … read entire review
Durres Sights & Attractions review
King Zugo’s palace
If you walk a bit up the hill from the central part of Durres you will get to a big old building next to the road. It used to be the residence of the … read entire review
Durres Sights & Attractions review
Amphitheatre in Durres
In the centre of Durres you will find an old amphitheatre build during the roman rule in Albania. The amphitheatre were originally build as a theatre … read entire review
Durres
photo by: EmEm