Cultural discovery of Apollonia and Berati.
Booking code CUD73
1 Days € 35
Guided visit of Apollonia – the city founded in 588 BC and called “The Pompey of Albania".
Guided visit of Berat – a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
08:00 - 09:30: After breakfast drive to Apollonia.
09:30 - 11:00: Visit of the site.
Apollonia was one of the largest cities on the Adriatic, an important and international centre of learning and trade. The city was originally founded in 588 BC as a Corinthian colony and was named after the god Apollo. He was obviously a popular choice because there are 23 other cities named after him in the Mediterranean world. However, this Apollonia was by far the largest and most important. Its only rival in the area was Epidamnos (Dyrrachium/ modern day Durres) to the north.
It is today situated near the modern town of Fier and offers the visitor a unique insight into the immense importance this region once held.
Apollonia was founded on a hill about a kilometer north of the Vjosa River, a significant river which flows into the Adriatic Sea. In ancient times the Vjosa was navigable up to the city, making Apollonia a major sea trade port and city linking Thessalonika and Byzantium with Italy and Rome by way of the Via Egnatia. For almost a thousand years Apollonia was an important urban centre in the Epirus region of the south-western Balkans.
It is estimated that the city had about 60,000 inhabitants, a record for ancient times. The residents were the descendants of the Greek colonists, as well as many Illyrians, as Apollonia was situated in the tribal area of Taulanti. Colonists from Italy came during the Roman era and it seems they assimilated well with the locals and Greeks.
From 229 BC, Apollonia became a Roman protectorate. In the subsequent wars against Macedonia, the city became the main base for the Romans in the Balkans. During the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, Apollonia was on Caesar's side but was conquered by Marcus Brutus in 48 BC. A little later, Marcus Antonius fortified it as a strategic base.
However, as a trade centre, the city started to decline in the 4thCentury following a large earthquake which altered the course of the Vjosa river and Apollonia’s famous harbor silted up.
Today, Apollonia is situated a few kilometers inland. Like Ephesus in Turkey,it is today so far from the sea, that it is hard to imagine that it was ever a major port. Happily, since the city’s decline was due to geographic and economic reasons, and not through war, it has been very well preserved. So far, only a tenth of the city has been discovered and archaeologists call it “The Pompey of Albania".
11:00 - 12:00: Drive in the direction of Berati.
12:00 - 13:30: Free time for lunch.
13:30 - 17:30:Guided city tour.
Berat is one of the main attractions of the country. It has a 2407 year old history and is a wonderful combination of eastern and western cultures, costumes, traditions. The city's life began as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the 3rd century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. During feudalism inside the castle were built churches with precious frescos and icons. Today, the castle is made unique by the fact that people continue to live inside of it.
In 2008, the old town of Berat was added to the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage.
We will visit Mangalemi district and its attractions, the Ethnographic Museum and the small Michaelis Church. Then we will walk through Gorica district through the Ottoman stone bridge named "'Ura e Goricës". "Finally we will visit the castle of Berat, which is one of the top attractions of the old city.
Its numerous small houses are still inhabited. Here lie diverse interesting churches and we will visit some of them. An interesting attraction is the Roman cistern, which has been in use up to the 19th century. Famous is the Onufri museum displaying works of the most important Albanian icon painter with the same name.
17:30 - 20:00: Transfer to Tirana.
If you are coming in a prearranged group, you can pick the date of this tour yourself.
The journey begins in Tirana and we will pick you up at your hotel.
If you are accommodated in another city, we can pick you up against additional charge, enabling your participation in the travel.
If you are a group staying in another city, it is possible to start the tour from that location at no additional charge, distance permitting.
Number of the participants 12 - 15
Length: 12 hours
The price includes:
Transport with air conditioned vehicle
Accompaniment by an English-speaking guide.
Entrance fees as per program
The price does not include
Any type of insurance.
Lunch and beverages in restaurants and bars.
Sneakers for traveling and sightseeing
Drinking bottle/ Thermos Flask