Durrës Albania - Travel Blog 2021 (Durres for Amphitheater, Castle, Fish, Adriatic Sea)
This blog provides full details on our trip to Durrës (Durres) Albania in 2021! We explored the Roman Amphitheater, saw the Durrës Castle, saw the Adriatic Sea and had our favorite fish dinner while in Albania.
Towards the end of our time in Tirana, Albania, we took a day trip to Durrës.
Tirana (Mother Teresa) Airport is the only major airport in Albania, so you will have to fly in there. In our last blog we talked about all the fun things we did and experienced in Tirana. From there you can access the rest of Albania and the Balkans. One of the cities that is a good idea to see is Durrës.
Durrës is the biggest seaport in the country and is one of the oldest cities in Albania. According to myth, the city has connections to Herakles/Hercules. Along with most of Albania is has been occupied several times by different conquering nations.
There are buses to get from Tirana to Durrës but we were fortunate enough to have some friends drive us over. It is about 34 kilometers away from Tirana, which is about a 40 minute drive.
Weather & Adriatic Sea
When we went to purchase our tickets to the Amphitheater (300 Lek a person) the attendant asked where we were from. We said "America." Her response was, "you're visiting now?" Not sure if she meant because of the pandemic, but she probably meant that they was the worse time to visit Durrës weather wise.
Durrës is right on the Adriatic Sea (part of the overarching Mediterranean Sea). There is a large coast line and a beach. But in February, it is not a peaceful area to sit around and sun bathe. The waves were huge and fierce and the wind was strong. It was supposed to rain all day, though thankfully we were able to explore for a few hours before the torrential downpour.
But sometimes travelers can't be choosers and there was no way we were going to pass up the free ride to Durrës; regardless of the time time of year. There was still plenty to see even though we could not enjoy the beach.
The Amphitheater is of Roman origin and was constructed under the reign of Emperor Trajan. Trajan not only was an excellent soldier who lead the second biggest military expansion in Roman history asides from Augusta, but he also was one of the Five Good Emperors who reigned during an era of peace. He launched many building programs besides this amphitheater, such as the Baths of Trajan, Trajan's Forum and Trajan's Bridge.
This is the largest amphitheater ever built in the Balkans and once held over 15,000 people. 1/3 of this site was excavated in the 1960s and the rest in the 1980s. It was destroyed twice by earthquakes.
You would think there would be room around this amphitheater to keep it safe and protected but that is not the case. There are many houses around it at not too far a distance. It is said that these building efforts have really hurt the long term preservation of the site. In 2013 it was named on of the most endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe.
Inside, there is grass and dirt in the middle with ancient areas in the perimeter. There is a chapel with a well and an open window to the center. There are several galleries which are cave-like areas where animals and other items were held which mostly are empty or have dirt and weeds in them now. A couple areas are fenced off as the steps down are destroyed and it would be too dangerous to allow people to enter.
This castle was built by Anastasius, a Byzantine Emperor. There are walls that lead from the Amphitheater to this castle. There are a few holes in the walls where you can walk through which is neat.
There is a Venetian tower which is super cool to see up close, but you can not enter it. It is a singular tower. Today there is a restaurant up some steps right next to the tower of the castle. But besides a meal at the restaurant this is really quick to check out and appreciate.
Halal Fish and Pizza
At this restaurant we got to see the fish before they cooked it. Completely fresh and was the best fish we had in Albania. Certain fish were for just for eating baked (cooked in the furnace/pizza oven). One was on their menu as their fried option, but they were out of it. Some could be baked or fried. We also ordered a salad to be shared between us.
Little did we know that we were going to be having a feast! The first thing they brought out was their bread; on the house. There were not a few roles or slices of bread, they brought out a whole pizza with tomatoes and fresh toppings. In the center was a blob of mayonnaise which was not our preference but it tasted great with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Next they brought out the fish. This was incredible. The baked fish had fresh lemon and orange juice as seasoning and was delicious. The fried fish was done perfectly and had skin that tasted like fried chicken skin. Fish overseas is not for the faint of heart. They ware not filleted where you don't know what you are eating. They bake or fry the fish whole so prepare to have a head and eyes looking back at you when you receive your meal.
After that they brought out a complementary dessert. Boy do Albanians treat their guests well! This was an apple sliced up with chocolate drizzled on top. We were stuffed and enjoyed every single thing we ate there.
Originally, we wanted more time in Durrës, but a day trip turned out to be perfect. We had a great fish meal, had plenty of time to completely walk around the amphitheater, and were able to check out the Adriatic Sea. Ideally when you go it will be summer and you can enjoy the beach, as we were not able to do that. But, I gotta say, it was still a great time.
Bring Durrës Albania to life by watching our travel vlog on YouTube. Out now!
This travel vlog provides full details on our trip to Durrës (Durres) Albania in 2021! We hung out in the Roman Amphitheater, saw the Durrës Castle, saw the Adriatic Sea and had our favorite fish dinner while in Albania.
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