It would seem that in Albania we will see only beautiful mountain areas dotted with characteristic bunkers here, azure sea and sandy beaches. However, Albania is something more. It is a country full of monuments, some of which are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. One of them is Butrint.
Butrint is a small, ancient settlement and archaeological site located on a peninsula in southern Albania. It is about 21 kilometers away from Saranda. Butrint has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992, and since 2002 a national park has been established here. This place is one of the most important areas of biodiversity, which protects water and marsh complexes which are the habitat of numerous fauna and flora.
What are the beginnings of Butrint?
According to mythology, it was supposed to be founded by refugees from Troy. Virgil tells about it in the third book of the famous “Aeneida”. However, archaeological research indicates that there was an Illyrian settlement here, which was transformed into a Greek colony and a port city. Through the turbulent years of history, Butrint came under Roman rule, and later became the seat of a bishopric. It owes its splendor to the rule of the Byzantine Empire and the Venetian rule. The latter left the city in the late Middle Ages, leaving them destroyed and plundered.
What is worth to see in Butrint?
The entire archaeological complex in Butrint includes, among others, the temple of Asklepios, ruins of an amphitheater for about 1500 people, Roman baths, Prytanejon, Gymnasion, Baptistery, ruins of the Byzantine basilica and the remains of the city walls. Particular care is surrounded by the Baptistery, in which perfectly preserved mosaics were discovered. Today, for safety reasons and fear of flooding, they have been covered with sand. They are exposed only on special occasions, such as visits by ambassadors or heads of state. Unfortunately, the lack of money for further work meant that they are not always available to visitors.
The ancient amphitheater also makes a great impression, which you can get to on the footbridge admiring turtles floating in the water. Despite the passage of years, the amphitheater has remained in great condition, and good acoustics make it begin to be used for evening performances. In July 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in performances taking place as part of the Butrint Festival. Under the cover of the evening, with little lighting, you could see the most eminent actors who played, among others, the role of Othello.
Entrance to Butrint is one of the most expensive in the whole country. A normal ticket costs 700 LEK. The price also includes admission to the museum, which was established in cooperation with the government of Albania and the Butrint Foundation. The museum is located in the castle towering over the park, from where you can see the entire park, but also the island of Corfu.
See you soon in Butrint!