• Day194


    May 9, 2019 in Albania ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Durrës ( Dyrrah ), founded in the 7th century BCE by ancient Greek settlers from Corinth and Corcyra, is another of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.
    During the Roman period, 5th century BCE. Epidamnos as they renamed it, was a main harbour during the Peloponnesian War. After the war it expanded and changed its name to Dyrrhachion; Dyrrachium was used in Roman literature and known as the battlefield between the legions of Caesar and Pompey (49-48 BCE). Dyrrhachion was a vital Roman port of The Egnatian Way (Via Egnatia). This trade route was one of the main roadways which connected Rome with Byzantium and Durres prospered with it. A result it had the largest Roman amphitheater in the Balkans which is now a pile of rubble and easy to overlook. (I did, though I saw it.)
    This is the so called Durres Castle, aka Venetian Tower.
    It dates back to the 400s, during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I who was born here. Although it's only a single tower and wall reinforced by the Venetians just before the city’s conquest by the Ottomans.
    It's seen some serious action right up to WWII but s you can see, the Martini rifle is no match for the Martini cocktail whose umbrella battle standards now fly triumphently above the parapets.
    The Great Mosque was built in 1931 by King Zog I on the site of an earlier Ottoman building. After 1967 its minaret was destroyed and the building was used centre for local youth organisations. It survived the Communist repression and is now fully functional as a religious centre.
    There is another, smaller and older one; the Fatih Mosque, which dates to 1503 in the first decades of Ottoman rule. This was also closed down during communism but was declared an Albanian cultural monument in the 70s. I found it down a side alley, all boarded up.
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    Tony Hammond

    A towering achievement.... (BCE = Before Common Error)