Tirana, Kruja, Durres, Ardencia, Apollonia, Vlora, Butrinti, Saranda, Girokastra, Fier, Berhat
The perfect opportunity to discover a country of wild beauty, with dark mountains, significant archeological sites, and one of Europe’s least known and most beautiful coastlines.
Arrival in Tirana, meeting with tour escort, and transfer to the hotel for check-in. The day continues with the sightseeing tour of Tirana. It starts with a visit to the National Historical Museum, followed by a stop at the Mosque of Et`hem Bey, built in 1830; the Clock Tower next to it; Government buildings at the south side of Skanderbeg Square; Roman Catholic Church of Saint Paul – the largest church in Tirana; Orthodox Church of St Prokop built in 1780; bridges Tabakëve and Terzive dating from the beginning of the 20th century; Opera House (National Theatre of Opera and Ballet) dominates the Scanderbeg Square. Lunch at the local restaurant. The walking tour continues along the main boulevard that provides a close sight of the City Hall and a number of governmental buildings, on both sides. You cannot miss the National Gallery of Arts along this walk. In the evening, a visit to the former Communist residential area, with modern bars, restaurants, and pubs frequented by different age groups, especially Albanian youth. Coffee time in the Sky Tower a rotating bar, where you can enjoy a fantastic view of Tirana. Dinner and overnight in the hotel in Tirana.
After breakfast, departure for Kruja. The walking tour of Kruja will take you through the cobblestone pathway of the Ottoman bazaar, selling wooden shops and displays of various gifts and antique household items. Visit within the walls of the castle will include the historic museum dedicated to Scanderbeg and his resistance against the Ottoman invasion. An old house turned into an ethnographic museum will provide you a unique cultural aspect of life in northern Albania. Lunch in the local restaurant. Leaving Kruja and transfer to the city of Durres. Explore the ruins of the town forum, Roman baths, city center, Town Hall, Roman Amphitheatre, Byzantine Walls, Venetian Tower, and Archaeological Museum, a panoramic display of discoveries and urban planning of this once very important city. Dinner with a folklore show, and overnight in the hotel in Durres.
This morning, our journey continues with visiting the Monastery of Ardencia and the church of the Virgin Mary. The church within the walls of the monastery is devoted to the Virgin Mary. She was venerated in particular during pilgrimages on her feast day, August 15, the Day of the Assumption. Learn also about the temple dedicated to Saint Cosmas Aitolos in Greece who became a respected figure of the 18th-century Greek culture. He traveled widely, from Himara and Vlora to Berat, Myzeqe, Durrës , Kruja, and as far as Pogradec and Voskopoja. Saint Cosmas was buried in the small church, built in 1813, near the mouth of the River Seman. Upon arrival to Apollonia, lunch in a local restaurant. The Illyrian Apollonia was founded at the beginning of the 7th century BC by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra. Apollonia was in Roman times a large and flourishing city near River Aos (today’s Vjosa). Of great interest to be visited are Encircling Wall, the monuments of Agonothetes, the Library, the Odeon, the Portico, the house with mosaics, The Museum of Apollonia, the Church of St. Mary. Unfortunately, some of the statues and objects were appropriated before 1946 by other countries. Those remaining are displayed in the museum, which is housed in the monastery. The monastery courtyard encloses a Byzantine church dating back to the 14th century. Dinner and overnight in the hotel in Vlora.
After breakfast, enjoy the ride to the Albanian Riviera, passing by villages of Dhermi, Himara, and Porto Palermo bay, with its historical sights, occupied by the Mediterranean pirates, and being the strongholds of Ali Pasha. Arrival in Saranda at the time for lunch, enjoying the sea view. Tour of Butrinti – Archaeological artifacts prove that during the 7th and 6th centuries BC Butrinti was a proto-urban center, but it was only during the 5th century BC that it turned into a full city. By the end of the 4th century, the agora, the boulevard, a small temple, and the theatre with 1500 seats were built up, the latter one, fortunately, being preserved until our days. The complex of the theatre and other buildings like Asklep’s Temple, portico, baths, etc. form the most magnificent part of the ancient city. During late antiquity and early Middle Ages, Butrinti flourished greatly. The construction of the baptistery, which is the most important monument of the early Christian period, dates from this time. The baptistery, which has a round shape with a diameter of 13.50 m, is filled with multicolored geometric and animal mosaic motifs making it a place of special artistic value. The hall has two rows of granite colonnades upon which the roof rests. In the afternoon, back to Saranda for sightseeing of the city, which includes the promenade, Ohnemois ruins, and the new Orthodox Church. Accommodation and overnight in the hotel in Saranda.
Departure for Fier, via Gjirokastër. Many houses in Gjirokastër have a distinctive local style that has earned this city the nickname of “Town of Stones” because most of the old houses have roofs covered with stones. Of great importance and interest are the Museum of Weapons (inside the castle), the Ethnographic Museum or the Enver Hoxha House, Castle of Gjirokastra, a characteristic house of Zekate, an important family in Gjirokastra. Known for its unique architecture, this UNESCO’s world heritage site offers something interesting for everyone. The highlights of the Old Town include the castle with breathtaking views, the bazaar area. Lunch in the local restaurant. Accommodation and overnight in Fier City.
Breakfast in the hotel, departure for Berat, and beginning of the tour. Berat known as the “City of one thousand windows” and is declared a Museum City. Berat, overshadowed to the east by Tomorr Mountain of 2415 m, is an ancient Illyrian settlement founded in the 4th & 5th centuries BC on the territory of the Illyrian tribe of Desarettes. The town is composed of 3 parts: Gorica, situated on the far side of the river; Mangalem, situated on the fortress side of the river; and the Residential quarter within the fortress known as Kalaja. The old part of the city has a few religious buildings like mosques and Byzantine churches. The old name of the city was Antipatrea. Lunch in the local restaurant. We proceed to Ohrid, check-in, afternoon at leisure, dinner, and overnight in the hotel in Ohrid.
Breakfast, sightseeing tour of Ohrid, at the lakeside resort of Ohrid, classified as a UNESCO`s World Cultural Heritage site. Thanks to the activities of St Clement and St Naum of Ohrid, the first Pan-Slavic University in Europe, the famous Ohrid Literary School, was founded here. The morning sightseeing tour includes the church of St Sophia (11th century), the most eminent medieval building in
Macedonia with magnificent Byzantine fresco paintings, and St Clement`s Church with its icon of Annunciation. Afternoon short drive for a visit to the St Naum’s Monastery built on the shores of the Ohrid Lake in 900 AD. The monastery is dedicated to the Slavic missionary and educator St. Naum of Ohrid. The highlights of the Ohrid tour include Church of St. Sophia, Our Lady Perivlepta, St John at Kaneo, St Pantelejmon Plaosnik, Old Bazaar, Mesokastro Settlement, Kaneo Settlement, Ohrid Fortifications, King Samoil Fortress, Antique Theatre, Ohrid Traditional Architecture, Icons Museum. Lunch in one of the restaurants in the old town. After lunch, a boat ride on the lake. Enjoy the afternoon at your own leisure, exploring the lake and the old town. Dinner in a local restaurant.
After breakfast departure for the Tirana airport.
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