Qarku i Durrësit

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  • Day40

    Erster August 2019 :)

    August 1, 2019 in Albania ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Atme. Lache. Liebe. Lebe! 🍀✨🌊🙏☺️
    ..auf nach 🇮🇹 Italia 🚢😆 von Dürres (Albanien) nach Bari in 9 Stunden.

  • Day194

    Krujë Castle

    May 9, 2019 in Albania ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Gjergjj (or George,) Kastrioti was born in 1405, the son of an Albanian Prince based in the fortress city of Krujë . Unfortunately it was a vassel state of the Ottoman Empire, so he and 3 siblings were shipped off to Constantinople as hostages, meaning they had to join the Janissary Corps.
    The Janissary philosophy was to take the boys from their vassal states, convert them to Islam, train them in military tactics and religious fanaticism, and then send them back to attack their former countrymen.
    The Sultan renaged on the contracted 3 winter enlistment period when the old Prince died, so our George had to stay a slave-soldier nearly 20 years until he kicked over the traces.
    He commanded a cavalry regiment, governed 9 provinces, and once personally thrassed a Mongol and two Persians in the Throne Room of the Ottoman Court after they were being disrespectful to the Sultan. Whilst he himself proved to be a strong and ruthless commander, and perhaps because of it, his three brothers were poisoned.
    In his honour - or maybe ironically - the Sultan named him "Arnavuthu Iskender Bey", meaning "Lord Alexander the Albanian" in reference to Alexander the Great, but he himself preferred to be called the more Albanian sounding "Scenderbeu", (Skanderbeg in English for reasons unknown.)
    One can surmise that having been circumcised forcibly at the age of 18 left an unpleasant feeling for, when he was 38, he chucked away the power that came from being a high-ranking Turkish official with all the wealth and women he could want. During a battle against John Hunyadi, a Hungarian Crusader, he absconded with 300 fellow Albanian Janissaries and returned to his birthplace at Kruje.
    The castle was under Turkish control, so the canny Georgey forged an order appointing him Governor of the region in the name of the Sultan. As soon as the previous governer left, George raised his own double-eagle standard over the ramparts and rallied the Albanians to it, openly declaring rebellion and obviously re-converting back to Christianity again. He quickly secured his position by liberating surrounding cities and towns, giving the Turkish defenders the usual Christian offer: Baptism or Martyrdom.
    Sultan Murad II was a bit miffed and came with 100,000 men to recover his assets.
    Using a combination of guerilla warfare, scorched earth policies and hit-and-run attacks on supply columns, the Turks were repulsed several times over the next few years and never succeeded in dislodging the self-styled "Avenger of the Albanians." Surrounded by the Empire, George spent the rest of his life fighting battles in which he led from the front with his goat-head helmet and 2 handed sword. Thus was a legend born.
    Pope Nicholas V called him the "Champion of Christendom" (sometimes translated as "The Athlete of Christendom"). Pope Pious II called him the "Christian Gideon", and Pope Calixtus III appointed him Captain-General of the Holy See.
    After Sultan Murad died, his son, Mehmet the Conqueror, had another 2 goes at capturing the fort, which Skanderberg repulsed in his traditional way, whilst finding time to negotiate deals with the Hungarians, Serbians and Venetians. Oh! And repressing a rebellion started by his own nephew.
    Once, taking a vacation from his Balkan odyssey, he nipped across to Italy with 800 cavalry to break the Siege of Naples and pick up a Dukedom, ( which his son and heirs enjoyed for a few hundred years.)
    Eventually he was defeated - by a mosquito and he died of malaria in 1468. During his career he is credited with 3,000 kills and has become the Hero for the Albanian people: his battle standard is the present-day Albanian Flag and school children are required to memorise a song about his feats.
    Ten years later, Kruje fell to the Ottoman ruler Sultan Mehmed II. The Turks dug up the Dragon of Albania and made bracelets out of his bones; either as keepsakes to disperse any trace of his body or as a fetish to get some of his power.
    Not much of old Kruje remains now within the castle walls. In front is the rebuilt Sultan Mehmed Fatih mosque, (named after the man who finally broke down the castle’s security,) and in use. Its about the size of a living room and still un use.
    Visitors are channelled from the car park up a shopping street to the gate. For 450 years it was a bazaar with up to 150 shops: now it is reduced to selling tourist trophys. It reminded me of villages outside Hanoi.
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  • 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.
    Albanian drag racer?
    Britannia rules - thanks to Tony Blair
    The old part of town
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  • Day8

    Shijak in Albania

    August 29, 2019 in Albania ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Nach der Fahrt vom Ohrid See über die Grenze nach Albanien und Road Challenge of today zur Haupstadt Tirana. Viel Verkehr und ein sehr schöner zentraler Platz, der den Stolz des Landes repräsentiert. Danach das erste mal ans Meer, kurz schwimmen und dann Hotelsuche. Hotel Dini kurz vor Shijak. Sehr zu empfehlen! In Shijak wurden wir von den Eltern von Freund Redjan zum Essen eingeladen. Mit Google Translator war sogar unser Albanisch nahezu perfekt und wir haben bei unglaublicher Gastfreundschaft einen schönen Abend verbracht. Ein etwas in die Jahre gekommenes Batterieladegeräte wird und bis nachhause bringen und der Wein und Raki für heute auch ins Bett. Gute Nacht, oder wie der Albaner sagt: Naten e mire.Read more

  • Day18

    Lunch pauze

    September 26, 2019 in Albania ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Een soepje tijdens de lunch pauze, opgediend met moederliefde. Maar helaas was de soep bijna niet te eten. Zeer vriendelijke bediening, ik was bijna klaar met de soep odyssee, enkel nog de laatste soep pasta sliertjes totdat ze afkwam met een soeplepel en mijn bord bijvulde,aaaah.
    Sterke drank grappa doet wonderen voor de desinfectering, tijdens een lange fietstocht lijkt dat niet zo goed idee.
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  • Day9

    Mittelmeer und Offroad

    August 30, 2019 in Albania ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Nachdem wir Tirana verlassen hatten, ging’s für einen kurzen Sprung ins kühle Nass ans Mittelmeer. Danach ging’s Richtung Grenze zu Montenegro. Ein kleiner Navigationsfehler bescherte uns dabei eine Offroad-Challenge. 😄Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Qarku i Durrësit, Qarku i Durresit