”… The bare mountains and wonderful bays, together with the abysses form a region with rare sterility. In fact, the inhabitants consider these abysses, bays and rocks the main factors protecting them from the enemy. This explains the continuous connection between the coast inhabitant and his native country, despite his location…”.

F.C.H.L.Pouqueville. 1803

Geographical panorama of Riviera

From geo-physical point of view, the Riviera starts with the Cape of Gjuheza (Longeta), in the north of Karaburun Peninsula and ends up with Cape of Stillo in the most southern end of Albania. From the west, Riviera borders with Ionian Sea, and in the south borders with Çika Ridge, which amount to over 2000m high and go parallel with Ionian coastline. Riviera coast has a Dalmatian northwestern-southwestern direction, which is very wild, high and rocky. These show its tectonic origin, great role of abrasion as a result of huge force of the sea waves due to strong and continuous winds.

The maritime processes have played a great role in the morphologic processing of the shore. The erosive and depositing activity of the streams has made possible the creation of several gritty beaches, in the form of narrow strips, small closed horseshoe-shaped bays. The main streams running along the Riviera Ridges are Palase, Gjipe, Visha, Spile, Kudhes, Borsh, ect.

Along the Riviera are situated also large beaches, created in the spots, where run more powerful streams, which have deposited huge amounts of scrappy material, such as beach of Palase, Dhermi, Vuno, Himare, Qeparo and Borsh. Along the coast are noted old abrasive tracks due to sea level fluctuations, which are represented by maritime terraces fragments.

The part of Riviera, from Gjuheza Cape up to Palase Stream (in antiquity the sailors have called it “White Roads”), is the wildest and less-known coast, whereas the southern coastline is rocky. From the geo-morphologic aspect, the Riviera, stretched from Llogara to Saranda, is divided into two sub zones – Upper Coast, from Palase to Qeparo, and Lower Coast, from Borsh to Saranda. The Upper Coast is characterized by cretacean lime forms, whereas the Lower Coast is characterized by terrigenous forms, turning it into a softer coast than the Uppor Coast.
The Riviera includes the coast, fields, valleys, hills, mountains with interesting micro and macro forms of nature monuments.

“… Robert Guiscardi sent his son Boemundi with a strong army to attack Vlora. He rushed forward like lightning and invaded the region of Jeriko and all Vlora, looting and destrying all the neighbouring areas of them…”.

Ana Komnena ” The norman invasion in Albania”. 1181

The city of Vlora stretches in the eastern centre of its bay it has a favourable geographical position which is connected with the direct access to the sea, with the protection against continental winds by its surrounding mountains and its position in the east of Otranto channel. The city of Vlora rises on a plain with a height varying from 6 up to 76 m above the sea level and presents an active continental level. It has a coastline of 90 km stretching from the mouth of Vjosa in the north up to northernmost point of the Karaburuni peninsula. It has a favourable position at the crossroads of land and sea routes.

It is 135 km far from Tirana, only 72 km from the city of Otranto in Italy and 120 km from the Island of Corfu in Greece.

In Antiquity, Vlora was known with the name Aulona as described by Ptolemeu, a geographer and Llukani, an historian of the II century B.C. Many other historians and chronicler describe Vlora as one of the main harbour cities of south Illyria known as Aulona. It reached its highest point of development after the economic fall of Apolonia and Orikum. During the VI century and all the medieval period Aulona was always mentioned in the chronicles about the history of the coastal cities as the main sea harbor in the region.

In 1081 Vlora was under the Norman reign and later in 1205 under the Republic of Venice.
In 1417 it was invaded by Turks who tempted to turn it into a bridge to get access to west Adriatic and further to Italy.

Ancient Vlora

In the north of Vlora, near the village called Pllake, there is an ancient stone wall extending towards the sea and representing the old harbor of the city that has survived the ruinous wave of destruction by man and nature. On the coast there are also traces of an ancient centre. They are considered to have been traces of the earliest Aulona, the name of which has evolved to Avelona, Laveona and to the present name Vlora. After serving as a port of Apolonia it started its independent life attracting the declining population of Apolonia up to the year 519.

In the course of time it passed under the protection of Kanina to the present harbor. At the time when the western powerful forces were advancing eastwards Vlora was the very place from where the crusades of Normans, clergymen and anzhuins set off.After some short and temporary invasions Vlora passed to the hands of the local feudals. In this period it bore the features of a medieval city with narrow paths echoing with the hammers of small workshops, artisans and weapon producers and with the anchorage waiting for the ships to come.

The city was further invaded by turks in 1417 and later in 1481 the expedition of Ahmet Gedik Pasha set off from its port to the coast of Brindizi. At this time the city got its castle back. E.Çelebiu, amazed by the greatness and the exceptional construction skills of the castle says: “… The castle is build on a sandy strip between the bay of Vlora and Dukati with an light-angled shape. It is reinforced with 8 towers on its corners and with 7 guns on each tower. Within the castle there is the seven-storey high and beautyful tower built
with finely carved stones and covered with lead. Both of its gates have got heavy iron bars that close tightly at night…”.

In 1620 venecians launched in Vlora and invaded it. Padre Vincenco Coroneli, a famous cosmologist and geographer of the time, was one of the venetians in Vlora who tried to design the plan of the castle.

But everything remained just a plan on paper, because the castle was ruined in the early XX century. Its stones were used in the construction of Vlora-port road as silent witnesses of the wars through centuries.

The bay of Vlora

The bay of Vlora is formed over a tectonically complicated sinclinal structure, created during the period of plio-quaternar, which corresponds to the division of the island of Sazan from the peninsula of Karaburun.

The bay of Vlora is 19 km long and 16 km wide.

It starts at the cape of Triport in the north and ends at the cape of Gjuheza in Karaburun in the west, with the island of Sazan in the middle. On its land side it is surrounded by high rocky mountains that narrow the low coastal part, dividing the bay in the northern, and southern parts.

The plain of Dukat, surrounded with mountains, sea and the lagoon of Pashalimani (Orikumi) is located in the south of the bay. In the west it is bordered by sea, while in the north, east and south by the range of Shashica hills that reach the shallow lagoon of Narta in the north.

The bay offers perfect conditions for navigation at sea and anchorage of ships. It communicates easily with other regions of Albania and it has been used as a crossroad of many important routes since ancient times. The bay of Vlora is remarkable for its rich natural resources, biological diversity and ecological corridors. The harbor of Vlora is positioned in the western part of the bay, opposite the Cold Water.

The castle of Vlora

”… The fortress of Vlora was founded by Sultan Sulejman… It had the form of an eight-sided structure and its walls were twenty feet high and ten feet thick… Within the fortress there is the mosque of Sultan Sulejman, the beautiful seven-storey tower of Sulejman Shahu built with carved stone and its dome is covered with lead….This tower was constructed by the famous architect Koxha Mimar Sinan…”.

Evlija Çelebi “Sejahatt-name”1560

The castle of Vlora was built by turks with the stones of the castle of Jengjec and it was found nearly 150m for from the coast, near today’s city port. There are no traces of this castle above the ground nowadays, because it was ruined in 1905 and its stones were used to lay the streets of Vlora. The descriptions of Çelebi, the architectural plans of foreign historians and researchers of the previous century such as Coroneli, Auerbahu etc. enabled the specialists to rebuilt it.

“…The castle of Jengjec perches high on a cliff above the sea. Ruins of its walls and a large port are the only things preserved nowadays. Sultan Sulejman used its stones to build the castle of Vlora…”.

Evlija Çelebi. 1560

The castle had the form of an eightangled structure with a side length of 90m and an area of 3.5ha. The walls were surrounded with a hedge filled with water which ended in the sea. The walls had a thickness of 5.60m and a height of 15m. There was a tower an each angle. The castle had 2 entrances facing each-other in the north and south and each of them had a two-storey tower. In the inner part of it was the main tower or Donzhon, built by the architect Mimar Sinan. It was a seven-storey construction with a height of 15m and overlooked the whole territory. On the top the tower had 4-5 guns and it was covered with a lead cupola. It resembles the “White Tower” built by Mimar Sinan in Selanik in terms of dimensions, function and way of construction.

The mosque of Muradije

The mosque was built during the XVI century, around the year 1542 in the rule of Sultan Sulejman Kanuni by the architect albanian Mimar Sinani(1498-1589), who was the most famous architect of the otoman empire during that century. This is testified by the inscriptions found on it, its architectural forms and by the way separate parts such as the minaret, the portal of the entrance are treated. Despite the mosque within the castle, E. Çelebiu mentions a single mosque with a cupola built by Sultan Sulejman. According to him the mosque of Muradije had a broken minaret, while those of Mumci Zade and Hysen Aga in Tabaka had wooden roofs covered with tiles. This mosque was known with the name “Kurshunli Mosque” up to the first quarter of the XX century.Then it became known as Muradije. Considering the advanced architectural forms and the use of parabolic curves at the corners, researchers have different opinions about the time this mosque was built. They reject the opinion that it was built in 1430.

The mosque consists of the cubic-shaped prayer room with a cupola and dimensions 8.7 x 8.7m.

The upper part of the southern wall is a structure of stalactites. It is thought that it used to have a portico that formed the entrance to the mosque. The door found in the northern side and covered with a low arch within a finely elaborated portal is the only access to the mosque. Two windows covered with special brick decor architras are found on both sides of the portal. The walls are built with bricks and stones. The minaret is built with carved stones and the balcony is huge and skillfully designed.
Despite the changes throughout history the monument preserves it original and architectural values. Of importance are the harmonious spread of the façade windows and the highly artistic treatment of its stone elements
embodied in the window frames, in the minaret etc. The special decoration of the façades wall structure that combines horizontal stripes of white stones and red bricks add to the gracefulness and greatness of the mosque. Specialists share the opinion that the mosque constitutes an original and architecturally accomplished work of art.

The castle of Gjon Bocari

The castle is located on the hill called “Gjembe” near the village of Tragjas in the form of a plateau extending from southeast to the west. In the north and east it is bordered by the mountains of Lungara while in the northwest it overlook the plain of Dukat up to the bay of Vlora.

The central part of the plateau is surrounded by walls that enclose a quadrangle with dimensions 30 x 18m or according to the austrian researcher Carl Patsch 38 x 22 feet. The walls are in a good condition, their outer height reaches up to 4m, the inner one up to 3m. They have a homogenious thickness that goes up to 1.90m. There are stairs that lead to the upper parts of the high walls. The gate is in the northern side of the castle. The southeastern and southwestern corners are fortified with six-angled towers. The walls and the tower have openings with inner dimensions 40 x 45cm and outer dimensions of 37 x 7cm. There are no traces of dwellings within the territory of the castle. In the northern side outside the castle there are ruins of quadrangle constructions, the most special of which is an environment with dimensions 6 x 5m and a wall thickness of 0.50m. The walls of the castle and the other environments within are built with limestone or rough sand bound with solid mortar. It is thought that the castle was built between the XVI-XVII century.

The theatre of Orikum

The small theatre was built in the I century B.C. over the ruins of the old theatre belonging to the III century B.C.
It was built in the period when Orikumi had reached the heighest point of its development and social and economic prosperity and it constituted a construction built with great skill and lots of ornaments. It was located in the eastern part of Paleocastra hill over an area of 400m2.

The theatre had the form of a horseshoe and it comprised three parts: the stairs for the audience, the place of the orchestra and the stage. The place of the orchestra was in the form of a semicircle with a diameter of 9.40m.
Its floor was partially laid with stone squares and partially with natural rock. It had 14 stairs and only four of them are still preserved nowadays. It had a capacity of 400 spectators. There are slight traces of the stairs built on the rock. The stairs were built with huge limestone blocks in the form of a trapezoid, not bound with mortar. Researchers have also discovered four identical skillfully elaborated stone “couches” made of white limestone. They were double-seated, monolithic and had the same dimensions. There are no traces of reconstruction or later adjustment and this is further supported by the harmonious link of the building with its podium. It shared the features of the temporary type of theatres intended for mixed theatrical shows and gladiatorial combats.

The theatre of Orikum is notable for the perfect harmony of its proportions, the clarity of the construction of its several parts and the perfection of technical details. It was an open theatre built in the 1 century B.C. According to the researchers, it was badly damaged during the earthquake of the II century A.D. which had ruinous effect for other buildings in the town as well. The town turned into a small settlement and all the attempts of H. Attic to restore it failed.
The altar found nearly 50-60m in the east of the theatre is another monument discovered during archeological excavations. It has a quadrangle plan with dimensions 3.6 x 2.5m and its height is 0.5m.

The church of Marmiroi

The church of Marmiroi rises on a small hill in the vicinity of Orikum with the plain of Dukat behind it and the peninsula of Karaburun in the south. The inhabitants of the region refer to it as “the church of Marmiroi” not knowing the name of its saint.
The austrian archeologist K. Patch visited the church in 1904 and made a description of it stating that it’ wasn’t just a small village church. The church is found in the southeastern angle of a yard and its own walls serve as surrounding walls. Ruins of walls found within the yard are parts of dwellings with their dugouts, a chimney and some windows. The church presents a cross-shaped plan covered with a cupola without inner columns for support. The narthex and thenaos are in the western side. There are three entrances to the church: the western entrance connects the church with the narthex, the two others are found in the northern and southern sides of it.

The inside of the church has the form of a cross with assymetric sides. The eastern wing ends with a concavity with a small window and two dugouts on both sides as protezis and diacon. The table of the altar is placed within the wall. The drum and the walls present damaged fragments of the wall pictures. The drum is built with stones and there are fragments in which bits of tiles and small stones are placed randomly and small wooden sticks without any connection with each other. The floor and the narthex were laid with stone slabs. The technique of construction follows the usual technique of regular stone blocks in the corners and gaps filled with bits of broken bricks and tiles. The window in the apses is covered with an horizontal stone whose lower carved part forms a semi-circle at the window. There is a sharp contrast between the cupola and the naos in the silhouette of the church. The construction technique of it shows common elements with the architectural features of construction belonging to the period before the turkish invasion, from the V century up to the XV. Based on the special architecture of this monument and comparing it with churches of neighbouring countries specialists conclude that the church of Marmiroi was built in the X century, while others think about the X-XIII century.

The towers of Dervish Aliu

The large construction block that constitutes a unique example of ancient constructions still preserved in the region of Laberia is located on a dominating territory in the centre of the upper quarter of the Old Dukati. They are called the towers of Dervish Aliu, a known figure in the rural uprisings of Laberia in the year 1847.

This construction block is an exceptional case in the architecture of rural constructions which organically links separate construction units with different functions creating a natural complex. This complex is formed gradually, it is continuously enriched with new constructions reaching the form it has to-day as a result of several successive construction stages. It creates an enclosed contour in the form of a triangle where the most important constructions are built on its three angles interconnected with other constructions through its 2 sides. The third side marks the surrounding wall. The constructions are very near each other forming a broken line that closes completely with the surrounding wall that connects the 2nd tower with the third dwelling. They form a wide yard the entrance to which is near the main entrance of the passage under the tower.

A small yard separates the second tower and the first dwelling from the main yard that is at the function of all constructions of the complex. The initial stage of this complex is the perpendicular half storey dwelling. The construction of the two towers belongs to the second stage. Folk narration offers an interesting fact about the case of the second tower. Dervish Aliu asked permission from the villagers who gave it an condition that the road remained undamaged. It was achieved with the vault of the underground floor over which the second tower is built. Specialists think that the first dwelling belongs to the late XVIII century, while the second tower to the first quarter of the XIX century.

The construction of the third, fourth and the fifth dwellings together with other suplementary buildings constitute the last stage. The wall structure is built with stones bound with lime mortar. Roofs are wooden structures covered with stone slabs and short shelters. Floors consist mainly of floorboards and the inner environments are plastered. Doors have outer stone arches and inner wooden architras. Windows are of different types closed with wooden shutters. What is special about these constructions is the use of dugouts and closets. The outer stairs are made of stone and the inner ones are a mixture of stone and wood. The 2nd tower has a number of openings in the walls. The complex of Dervish Aliu is a striking and homogenous construction which preserves skillfully the unity and the uniqueness of an work of art. The architects of the time have used the uneven structure of the territory to give the complex a special dynamism and flexibility. Its composition counts for the protective character and the capacity of sheltering 250-300 warriors.

The bay of Grama (Gramata)

The bay of Grama or Gramata first became known by Ciriaco d’Ancona (1391-1452) who stayed there in 1435 and later by L. Hezei and C. Patsch who copied and published some of the inscriptions found on the bay. Later in 1930 it was visited by Ugolini. The bay of Grama constitutes the end of a mountain stream which extends westwards in the southwest of the peninsula of Karaburun at the place where the stream of St. Ndreu is formed.

The deposited material of the stream has created a suitable sand platform that enables descending on the coast while the cliffs on both sides of the bay fall directly into the sea forming anchorage points for ships. Traces of removed stone blocks on the coast show that Grama was used as a stony massif in order to make use of the limestone rocks. In the west of the bay there is still the horizontal platform of storing the stone blocks, which was later turned into a dwelling. There are two hollows on the floor and two carved basins near the rock for collecting drinkable water. The main stony massif was 100m far from the coast, 50m above the sea level with a considerably large platform.

Specialists think that the use of the stony massif is earlier than the inscriptions. It started with the appearance of urbanization in the VI century B.C., and increased during the IV-III century B.C. Specialists also think that these inscriptions don’t go any further than the III century B.C.

Gnaeus Pompeius is the name of the eldest son of Gnei Pompei who played an important role in the naval wars, as described by Jul Ceasar in the battle in the vicinity of the port of Orikum.
The carved inscriptions which date to the III century B.C. continue up to the medieval period in the eastern side of the bay. There are inscriptions written straight on the rock and others within quadrangle frames fitted on it. The carved inscriptions and those written on the rock with red paint belong to two main periods: round the III-II century B.C. and VI-XI century A.D. The inscriptions of the first period are written in Greek, the inscriptions of the second are written in the Medieval Greek. There are a few latin ones. One of them writes about the Bizant Emperor Jan Paleologu who was caught by a storm in Gramata in 1369 on his way from Constandinopoli to Pope Urban V in Avinjon in France. There are also carved figures such as ships, the picture of a woman near a hut, vases, crosses etc. There are 500 inscriptions altogether and many of them are damaged as a result of the continuous contact with the sea.
Gramata with its iconographic writings is considered as “an archive with stone visit cards, a library on the rock.
Gramata is also the home of two church caves. Their walls are filled with inscriptions and they were used as cult objects.
The chronological classification of the inscriptions is connected with the frequent journeys by sea in the period of the great development of Illyrian cities in the III-II century B.C. and with the strenthening of the ties between important centers of Dyrrahu, Lisi, Ulqini, Kanina etc. Worldwide known authors such as Kretshmen, Delato, Sestier etc. have been inspired to write about Gramata.

Llogara Vlora

The national park of Llogara

The national park of Llogara, accepted as a cultural monument in 1966, is situated at the northern part of the pass, taking up a surface of 1020 ha. It starts at the end of the plain of Dukati and continues up to the pass of Llogara. The park is covered with a dense forest. The most prevailing tree is the black pine which is also the characteristic of the park, together with other conifer trees. The forest of the park is the home of an interesting fauna.

The pass of Llogara

The pass of Llogara, 1027m high, is found between the peak of Çika 2045m in the east and that of Shendellia 1499m in the west. It separates the range of Çika from the peninsula of Karaburun and serves as a borderline between the valley of Dukat in the north and the region of the Sea Coast in the south. It is a pass of tectonic and erosive origin, positioned in the central part of the big gap Kudhes-Vlora. Erosion and limestone processes have played a major role in the formation of this pass. It constitutes an important geographical point because it marks the borderland between the Foot of the Channel and the plain of Dukati. The pass of Llogara overlooks the breathtaking landscape of the sea coast that includes a vast horizon over the bay of Vlora in the north extending towards the Ionian sea and the islands of Corfu. The white stones of the beach contrast sharply with the gray rocky coast. Along the gray rocky coast shine the white pebbles of the beach, and along the slopes of Çika lie in the form of chain rings the villages of the region from Palasa up to Nivica. Specialists classify Llogara as the place of the ideal biological balance between flora and fauna. Considering water resources we can mention the streams of Shala and Hani i Mavroshpili. Llogara is also classified in the Europian Guide for its aeronautical sports.

The beach of Dhermi

The beach of Dhermi is situated in the north of Gjipea beach, with the big and active steepy slope of St. Todhri in the south and two streams that pour in the extremities of the beach. The big and powerful stream of Dhermiu pours in the beach. It originates from 1200m above the sea level. The stream forms its rocky valley below the village of Dhermi. Ajgonadhi pours near the steepy slope forming a 30-m wide estuary along the beach. It is a short stream with a little steepness and a temporary flow during the wet seasons. The beach of Dhermiu extends from the southeast to northwest with a longitude of 1km. Its average width is 30m and the highest width reaches the value of 40m in the central part of the beach.

The church of Ipapandia (Kato Panaia)

The church built below the village presents a similar typology with the churches of the Sea coast. It has a rectangular shape with inner dimensions of 12.80 x 3.60m, covered with a wooden roof without a ceiling. The entrance is in the southern side of the church and the lighting of its interior is provided by the windows found on all its walls. It consists of the naos and the place of the altar which is separated with a stone iconostas with two entrances. A semi-circular structure built-in in the lower part of the wall forms the altar table. Its wall structure consists of randomly arranged stones bound with limestone mortar without an decorative elements. The frieze that reaches the level of the roof with curved sides and covered with tiles, is found in the western side of the church. The bell structure has two dugouts separated by a thin column and a third one placed above them. Although there is no evidence about its time of construction, specialists think that it belongs to the second half of the XVIII century.
In Dhermi there are still ruins of a non-religious building the walls of which are built with the techniques of the XI-XII century. The object is located behind the postbizantine church of Ipapandia and the locals refer to it as “the baths of the Queen”.

The church of the monastery of St. Mary

The church is part of the old monastery built on the highest rocky crest of Dhermi. It was painted in 1576 and it constitutes the building left from the monastery. This church is notable for the portrait of St. Kozma, on 24 August 1779. The church comprises two distinct parts: as the church hall and the hat in the east.
The hat constitutes an old construction and it can be accessed through three doors opened in the western wall which has the role of the iconostas. It is square shaped and covered with a circular cupola. It is not very low and it is lit by its four windows. The inner vertical character becomes even more prominent as the structure of the cupola narrows. The eastern wall consists of the circular apse with a small window and two niches on its sides. The walls are flat and end with frieze. They are built with stones and limestone mortar and bricks placed between the stones. It dates to the XIII-XIV century.

The beach of Gjipea

It is located in the northwest of the beach of Jali and in the southeast of that of Dhermiu. It is 200m long, 50m wide and it is formed at the estuary of the stream of Gjipea. It is a gritty beach with rough stone in some places. The beach is formed as a result of the large amount of the solid material deposited by the stream of Gjipea. It originates at 1200m above the sea level and it is formed as a result of the joining of its three main branches: the stream of Mjegulloshi, Mile and Rradhima in the south of the village of Ilias. There is a limestone spring 450m above the sea level.

The church of St. Mary Mesodhi

The church of St. Mary Mesodhi is a hat positioned on a coast in the southeast of Vunoi. It is a single nave rectangular church with inner dimensions 11.30 x 3.80m. It comprises the naos and the place of the altar separated by a stone iconostas with three entrances. It has a door in the western side covered with a full arch which is also the only lighting space, because the church lacks windows. The walls are constructed with stone and limestone mortar and the hewn corner stones end with a frame formed by lines of stone slabs.Inscriptions on the walls show that the mural painting is realized in 1783. In the western wall there was a bell structure with stone walls and the bell.

The beach of Jali

The bay of Jali is situated in the west of the village of Vunoi and it forms a beautiful stone beach. The beach extends from the northeast towards southwest in the form of a horseshoe. It forms a spit that sticks out into the sea for 200m and it slightly steepy slopes are covered with Mediterranean vegetation. The beach extends southwards in the form of a small limestone hill. The beach is 200m long, 10-15m wide which reaches up to 50m in its centre. The movements of the sea when the tide is in or out form a threshhold that reaches up to 0.25m. It is a gritty beach but there are also parts with rough sand.
The streams of Gjik Xhoxhani and Movriani have had an important role in the formation of the beach because it is formed as a result of the joining of their depositing cones. Under the rocky crests in the north of Jali there are two micro beaches permeated by several ridges.
In the centre of the bay there are some ruins and a quay belonging to the early XX century.

The castle of Himara

“… Papa Nestori led us up some narrow, dirty and ruined paths towards what he called “fortezza” which consisted of a few regular architectural lines combined with lately added structures. Their lower part was very firm. Then we descended to a platform that overlooked all the territory of Himara with its breathtaking landscape…”.

Edward Lear. 27 October 1848

The roman author Plini in his work “The history of nature” says that: “Himara is the castle of Acrocerauns”. It is also mentioned as a castle by the Procopii Caesariensis in the VI century. Even in the medieval period Himara had an important role as the castle of diocesan. It was located on the right side of the road that came from Orikum. It is found on the highest hill of the village 223m above the sea level in the quarter known as Barbaka and borders with the stream of Visha in the north and the stream of Tubala in the south.

Two bays found below the castle were suitable for ship anchorage. There are some arable lands round the castle that are in full contrast with the sharp relief of the coast. The cliff of the castle at the pass identifies with it in the east, while in the north, west and south it falls over the stream of Visha with its scary spurs. It’s difficult to trace the ruins of ancient walls because they are ruined or covered by new constructions. In the north, near a ruined church there is a partially damaged round well. It has a diameter of 4m and it is 4.30m deep.

Traces of the castle wall start at the northeast and after a slight turn continue in a straight line. In the southeast the wall makes a strong turn towards a tower with a 6.5m front side. The tower is 2m high and it is constructed with huge stone blocks of different sizes and shapes. The dimensions of the stone vary between 1 x 0.90m up to 0.80 x 50m. The stones at the foundations of the tower are placed one above the other, while in the upper part they are bound with mortar. 5 to 6m away from the tower there is an Illyrian wall and further the medieval wall which continues up to the church of Kasopitra. The wall is in harmony with the surrounding territory with turns and irregular stones, but always following a straight line.

The walls are constructed with finely hewn limestone blocks, with enlarged fronts and trapeze and rectangular shapes. The castle has a small area of nearly a hectare, but its favorable position and the wall track over the abysses have made Himara an important and well-protected place. The construction techniques of its walls show the fortified character of Himara in the Antiquity and Medieval period. Studies and research have testified that Himara was a military strategic centre rather than a developed economic centre. Its low development during the Antiquity is explained with its geographical and physical position that didn’t favor its further development, the lack of good arable lands for the development of rural centers and the historical events it went through.
The castle of Himara dates to the IV-III century B.C.

The beach of Livadhi

The beach of Livadhi or Zamara is located at the estuary of the stream of Visha over a bay that doesn’t penetrate deep towards the land. It has the form of a horseshoe and its surrounding slopes are slightly steep. The beach extends up to the cape of Lara towards the northwest. It represents the base of a 1200m depositing cone of the stream of Visha whose 1250m long climax is in the deep ravine of the stream.

The stream of Visha originates at 1400m above the sea level and it is fed with the water of three mountain streams: Grivinaj, Frenkthi and Krai. The maximum width of the beach of Livadhi is 100m. It is a clean and quiet beach. The tectonic hole of Himara is located among the hills where old Himara and Pilur are found and the pass of Mixora in the east and southeastern hills in the west the hole continues towards the sea with the stream of Spile and Buci. The land formed by the deposited material of the streams is suitable for the cultivation of olive groves and citrus trees. The tectonic hole of Himara is formed as a result of tectonic susidence of land, the activity of lime and erosive processes.

The church of St. Sergi and Baku

In the north-eastern side of the St. Sergi and Baku church there is an inscription saying: “Jesus Christ, wins” and the date 786.
The church used to be the centre of the diocesan of Himara, around the year 1019 when it was annexed to the Head Diocese of Ohri. It was built on the highest point in the north of the castle of Himara. There are traces of some periods of reconstruction on its walls and it comprises the narthex, naos and the place of the altar separated from them by a stone iconostas.

The naos belongs to the first construction, while the upper parts were reconstructed several times. The old walls were built with stones of different dimensions.

The narthex and the wall that separates it from the naos are later constructions. The eastern corner it the northern side with a mural door was reconstructed in 1783.
The semi circle apse found on the eastern wall is big and of special importance for the church. Considering the construction techniques and its historical documents we can conclude that the church belonged to the early XI century. The castle of Porto

The castle og Porto Palermo

The castle of Porto Palermo is an amazing and graceful work of art built according to the best architectural, esthetic and military traditions of the period of Ali Pashe Tepelena. The castle of Aliu is thought to have been built on the ruins of an ancient castle.
In his memories in 1805, W.M. Leake mentions a quadrangle castle surrounded with a wall and consisting of a dwelling, a church and two guns.

The general concept of the castle resembles that of Methoni in Peloponez of Greece. Its walls are 20m high decorated with several arches. It has the form of a triangle with observatory towers to control the routes to the three ports of the bay placed on each angle. Above the gate there was an inscription in greece ruined in 1995. The central corridor within the castle was bordered with columns and arches. In the middle of it there is a dull massive structure with a series of arches that give the effects of light and shadows. On the left there were the rooms of Ali Pasha, the bedrooms and harem with three rows of stone seats. A small door found somewhere in the middle of these rooms led to the southern part of the yard protected by two towers. On the right there were the rooms of the soldiers, the rooms of the prison and a well that was at the same time a secret exit to the coast. A wide and stone staircase with a dozen of stairs arranged in a straight line led to the gun square, from where all the view of the Porto Palermo Bay was on the palm of the hand. The inside of the castle had a dark and gloomy atmosphere as reflected so vividly in the romanticism of the period of Ali Pashe Tepelena.

The castle of Porto Palermo was built by Ali Pashe Tepelena over the ruins of the monastery of St. Kolli. Later, in the 1818 he built the church of St. Kolli, in honour of Vasiliqi, his wife, opposite the castle.

The church of the monastery of St. Mitri

The church is positioned on a square in the lower quarter of Qeparoi and it has created an ansamble together with other buildings of social character.
The church was built in 1760 and it shares the features of the other churches of the sea coast. The naos is cross-shaped. It has a cupola and its dimensions are 7.50 x 4.50m. The arms of the cross are asymmetrical due to the long naos. The church presents a special solution for covering the central part and reaching the proper level for the base of the dome through some curved lines.

The place of the naos is higher than the level of the naos and they are separated by a wooden iconostas. The interior is lit by the only window on the southern wall and the four windows of the dome. Its outer composition includes the prismatic volume of the church covered with a two-gutter roof over which rises the cylindrical dome with a wide base.

The only decorative elements are the ends of the walls with serrated frames. In the western side, over the frieze of the wall there is a dugout and a bell.

Author: Ylber HYSI

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One reply on “About Vlora through the years”

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