Durrės
Durrės(in Latin “Dyrrachium”) is a major city on the Adriatic coast of Albania. Located in western central Albania, it is the country’s most important port city and strategic for the country's economy. There are regular ferry services to Italy: Bari, Ancona and Trieste. Durres is the second largest city in the country, after the capital Tirana. Many roads and railways pass through Durres and connect the northern part of the country to the south and the west with the east. Many tourists come and visit the city’s beaches. From the year 2000, many new hotels were built and the infrastructure has been improved.

Location
Durres is located only 39 km from Tirana. Durres is surrounded by a range of hills (max 400m) to the north, east and south. The River Erzen flows into the Adriatic 10 kilometres north of the city: to the northwest lies the beautiful Bay of Lalėz, and the Bay of Durrės lies to the south.

Climate
Durres has a Mediterranean climate. Temperatures range from an average 25°C in July to 10°C in January. The driest month is July, with an average total rainfall of about 1 mm. June and August are also very dry. The wettest month is November with an average monthly rainfall of 40 mm. With more than 200 sunny days a year, Durrės is an attractive place to visit.

History
Durrės was founded in 627 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth and Corfu. They named it "Epidamnos" with the surrounding area called Epidamnia. In 313 BC, the Illyrian leader, Glaucias, took the city and in 280BC, King Monun minted the first Illyrian coins to name the city Dyrrah. In 229 BC it became a Roman protectorate. The city was one of the starting points of the Via Egnatia, connecting the Adriatic Sea with Byzantium. Another starting point was 65 kilometres to the south, at Apollonia. In 49 BC, during the Roman civil wars, Pompey Magnus was based here, and in November of the same year, the army of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus landed in Dyrrah. Although under provincial administration, during the imperial centuries, Dyrrah was given the status of a “civitas libera”, a free city.
Durrės is one of the first cities in the Balkans and even in Europe, with a recorded Christian community. In 58 AD Christian families lived in the port city and in the same year a diocese is mentioned. Some historians also believe that the Apostle Paul himself visited the city sometime between 53 to 58AD. The Christian martyr Saint Astios(1st century) was Bishop of Durres and at this time, many Christians came from Italy to Albania to escape persecution.
At the end of the 3rd Century AD, Dyrrachium was the capital of the newly formed province of Epirus Nova, (New Epirus). The Emperor Anastasius I was born here in 430 AD.
In the Middle Ages, Durres was part of the Byzantine Empire and was considered the most important city on the western side of the Balkan Peninsula. At the end of the 9th Century the Bulgarians came to Durrės and later, in 1082 and again in 1185 the Normans came but ruled only for a few years. The city changed hands many times in the thirteenth century - in 1205 the city came under the rule of the Venetian Republic, from 1220 it formed part of the Despotate of Epirus and in 1271was part of the Kingdom of Naples.
Albania is seismically active and in 1273 the city was devastated by a major earthquake: but was soon rebuilt. Catholic institutions gained ground during the rule from Naples and in 1278 the Dominicans founded their first convent in Albania, at Durrės. A Jewish community was first mentioned here in 1281. In 1317/ 1318 the Serbian kingdom took the city and held it until 1355, when it was returned to the rule of Naples and the local Albanian noble family, the Topija. Gjergj Topija, son of Karl Topija surrendered the city  to the Venetians in 1392. Parts of the city wall and several of its towers from the Venetian period survive to this day and can be seen near the port.
With the coming of the Ottomans to the region and taking Durrės in 1501, many converted to Islam (from Catholicism) and many mosques were subsequently built. The most important of them is the well-preserved Fatih Mosque. The Ottomans renamed the city, Dirac but over time, it lost its importance as a major centre facing western Europe. The Ottoman Empire remained the dominant power in the Balkans until early in the twentieth century. After the Balkan Wars of 1911-1913, Albania and other Balkan states gained their independence for the first time in five centuries.
In 1914, Durres became, briefly, the capital of the Principality of Albania which was ruled by a German prince, Wilhelm zu Wied, for only 6 months. After the First World War, Albania found itself independent and in February 1920, Tirana became the nation’s new capital.
In 1926, another major earthquake destroyed Durrės, but the new buildings that were built reflected the Italian style. Today, these Venetian and Neapolitan inspired buildings still form much of today’s city centre.
During the Second World War(1939 - 1943) Durres, like the whole country, was occupied by Italy and in 1944 by the German Reich.
After Enver Hoxha came to power and established a communist dictatorship, Durrės became an industrial centre. The city became an important location for Albanian heavy industry. After the collapse of communism in 1991, Durrės changed greatly and its population and size grew rapidly. Many Albanians from northern, rural areas moved south and settled in the suburbs and less populous areas of the city.

Attractions
The Roman Amphitheatre
The amphitheatre of Durrės is one of the greatest monuments of antiquity in Albania and was built in the first decades of the 2nd century, probably during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Unlike other amphitheatres of that time which are built exclusively on flat terrain, it is built partly into an existing hill, and partly on level ground. It overlooks the main part of town.
Excavations started only in 1966 and now, today, only half the site has been excavated. The arena measures 61 x 42 metres, with the long axis 120 m, and the shorter,101 m. The amphitheatre could take about 1500 spectators, making it one of, or, the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans. A chapel was built into one of the galleries in the fifth century whilst the main arena became a cemetery. The chapel is small, decorated with mosaics and frescoes and is dedicated to the martyr St Stephen whose name can be seen written on one of the frescoes on the left. This is the only known wall mosaic in Albania. In the first section, the Byzantine Emperor Alexanderis is pictured, with his name on the corner of the mosaic. He is surrounded by two guardian angels and two other beings. St Stephen appears on the other section. The style and the techniques used in the mosaic show the progress and development of art in this period.

The Fatih Mosque
It is believed that the Fatih Mosque was built around 1480. It’s style is simple, a type which is characteristic of the Islamic religious buildings of the XV-XVI century, which were built very quickly so as to be in use as soon as possible. It has no special artistic merit , but was built on the ruins of an ancient basilica, the walls of which still remain. The mosque was restored in 1991 and now is fully functional.