Durrës

Durrës

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Durrës is the second largest city of Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 located on the central Albanian coast, about 33 km (21 mi) west of the capital Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

, opposite the Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 ports of Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

 (300 km (186 mi) away) and Brindisi
Brindisi
Brindisi is a city in the Apulia region of Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, off the coast of the Adriatic Sea.Historically, the city has played an important role in commerce and culture, due to its position on the Italian Peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic Sea. The city...

 (200 km (124 mi) away). Durrës is home to Albania's main port, the Port of Durrës
Port of Durrës
The Port of Durrës or Durrës Harbor is a biggest port of Albania in the city of Durrës, Albania.It is an artificial basin that is formed between two moles, with a west-northwesterly oriented entrance approximately wide as it passes between the ends of the moles...

, and to the newest public university, the Aleksander Moisiu University
Aleksander Moisiu University
Aleksandër Moisiu University or officially Aleksandër Moisiu University of Durrës is the newest public academic institution of the Republic of Albania. The University is located in the ancient city of Durrës and have branch in Peshkopia...

. It has a population of around 202,000 ( estimate). In addition, it is the meeting point of national roads SH2 and SH4. Founded in the 7th century BC by Greek colonists from Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 and Corcyra
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

, it has been continuously inhabited for 27 centuries and is one of the oldest cities in Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

.

Names


The city was known with its Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 names Epidamnus (Επίδαμνος) or Dyrrhachion (Δυρράχιον) in the classical and Roman antiquity. Roman authors believed that either she was renamed from Epidamnus to Dyrrachium because "damn" had a negative meaning in Latin or that she was named so after the hero Dyrrachius. In other languages is known by derivatives of the name Dyrrachium, i.e. in Slavonic Drač (Драч), in Ottoman Turkish Dıraç and in Italian Durazzo. In the past few decades, the Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 name of the city, Durrës (Durrësi), has gradually replaced the widespread use of the Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 name Durazzo.
For other names by which Durrës is known, see other names of Durrës.

Ancient



Though surviving remains are minimal, as one of the oldest cities in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the city was founded as Epidamnos
Epidamnos
The ancient Greek city of Epidamnos , later the Roman Dyrrachium was founded in 627 BCE in Illyria by a group of colonists from Corinth and Corcyra...

in the ancient region of Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

 in 627 BC by ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 colonists from Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 and Corcyra, modern-day Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

. The general vicinity of Epidamus was called Epidamnia. The city's geographical position was highly advantageous, as it was situated around a natural rocky harbour which was surrounded by inland swamps and high cliffs on the seaward side, making the city very difficult to attack from either land or sea.

Epidamnos was noted for being a politically advanced society, prompting Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 to praise its political system in controlling trade between the Greek colonists and the local barbarians. However, Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 and Corcyra
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

, each with a claim to be "mother city" (metropolis
Metropolis
A metropolis is a very large city or urban area which is a significant economic, political and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections and communications...

), quarreled over the city, helping to precipitate the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC, was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases...

 in 431 BC
431 BC
Year 431 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Cincinnatus and Mento...

 as one of the most significant battles took place on the Durrës seaside. Epidamnos was seized by Glaukias, an Illyrian king, in 312 BC with the help of the local Greek oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

. Later Queen Teuta attacked Epidamnos but withdrew when the Romans arrived the same year (229 BC) and expelled the Illyrian garrison from the city, including it thereafter in their protectorate. The Romans set up replaced the rule of Teuta with that of Demetrius of Pharos
Demetrius of Pharos
Demetrius of Pharos was a ruler of Pharos involved in the First Illyrian War, after which he ruled a portion of the Illyrian Adriatic coast on behalf of the Romans, as a Client king....

, one of her generals. He lost his kingdom, including Epidamnus, to the Romans in 219 BC at the Second Illyrian War. In the Third Illyrian War Epidamnus was attacked by Gentius
Gentius
Gentius was the last Illyrian king of the Ardiaean State. The name appears to derive from PIE *g'en- "to beget", cognate to Latin gens, gentis "kin, clan, race". He was the son of Pleuratus III, a king who kept relations with Rome very strong...

 but he was defeated by the Romans at the same year.

For Catullus
Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...

, the city was Durrachium Hadriae tabernam, "the taberna
Taberna
A taberna was a single room shop covered by a barrel vault within great indoor markets of ancient Rome. Each taberna had a window above it to let light into a wooden attic for storage and had a wide doorway....

of the Adriatic", one of the stopping places for a Roman traveling up the Adriatic, as Catullus had done himself in the sailing season of 56.

Roman and Byzantine rule




After the Illyrian Wars
Illyrian Wars
Illyrian Wars were a set of conflicts of 229 BC, 219 BC and 168 BC when Rome overran the Illyrian settlements and suppressed the piracy that had made the Adriatic unsafe for Italian commerce. There were three campaigns, the first against Teuta, the second against Demetrius of Pharos and the third...

 with the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 in 229 BC
229 BC
Year 229 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Albinus and Centumalus...

 ended in a decisive defeat for the Illyrians, the city passed to Roman rule, under which it was developed as a major military and naval base. The Romans renamed it Dyrrachium (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: Δυρράχιον / Dyrrhachion). They considered the name Epidamnos to be inauspicious because of its wholly coincidental similarities with the Latin word damnum, meaning "loss" or "harm". The meaning of Dyrrachium ("bad spine" or "difficult ridge" in Greek) is unclear, but it has been suggested that it refers to the imposing cliffs near the city. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

's rival Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 made a stand there in 48 BC before fleeing south to Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. Under Roman rule, Dyrrachium prospered; it became the western end of the Via Egnatia
Via Egnatia
The Via Egnatia was a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. It crossed the Roman provinces of Illyricum, Macedonia, and Thrace, running through territory that is now part of modern Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Greece, and European Turkey.Starting at Dyrrachium on the...

, the great Roman road
Roman road
The Roman roads were a vital part of the development of the Roman state, from about 500 BC through the expansion during the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. Roman roads enabled the Romans to move armies and trade goods and to communicate. The Roman road system spanned more than 400,000 km...

 that led to Thessalonica and on to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. Another lesser road led south to the city of Buthrotum, the modern Butrint
Butrint
Butrint was an ancient Greek and later Roman city in Epirus. In modern times it is an archeological site in Sarandë District, Albania, some 14 kilometres south of Sarandë and close to the Greek border. It was known in antiquity as Βουθρωτόν Bouthroton or Βουθρώτιος Bouthrotios in Ancient Greek...

. The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 made the city a colony for veterans of his legions
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

 following the Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium
The Battle of Actium was the decisive confrontation of the Final War of the Roman Republic. It was fought between the forces of Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII. The battle took place on 2 September 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea near the city of Actium, at the Roman...

, proclaiming it a civitas libera (free town).

In the 4th century AD, Dyrrachium was made the capital of the Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of Epirus nova. It was the birthplace of the emperor Anastasius I
Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

 in circa 430. Some time later that century, Dyrrachium was struck by a powerful earthquake which destroyed the city's defences. Anastasius I rebuilt and strengthened the city walls, thus creating the strongest fortifications in the western Balkans. The 12 m (36 ft)-high walls were so thick that, according to the Byzantine historian Anna Komnene
Anna Komnene
Anna Komnene, Latinized as Comnena was a Greek princess and scholar and the daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos of Byzantium and Irene Doukaina...

, four horsemen could ride abreast on them. Significant portions of the ancient city defences still remain, although they have been much reduced over the centuries.

Like much of the rest of the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, Dyrrachium and the surrounding Dyrraciensis provinciae suffered considerably from barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 incursions during the Migrations Period. It was besieged in 481 by Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, king of the Ostrogoth
Ostrogoth
The Ostrogoths were a branch of the Goths , a Germanic tribe who developed a vast empire north of the Black Sea in the 3rd century AD and, in the late 5th century, under Theodoric the Great, established a Kingdom in Italy....

s, and in subsequent centuries had to fend off frequent attacks by the Bulgarians
Bulgarians
The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

. Unaffected by the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city continued under the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 as an important port and a major link between the Empire and western Europe.

Middle Ages



The city and the surrounding coast became a Byzantine province (the Theme of Dyrrhachium) in the early 9th century. Byzantine rule was contested by the Bulgarians
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

 under Simeon the Great, but it remained in Byzantine hands until the late 10th century, when Samuel of Bulgaria conquered the city and held it until ca. 1005.

Dyrrachium was lost in February 1082 by the emperor Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos, Latinized as Alexius I Comnenus , was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118, and although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. The title 'Nobilissimus' was given to senior army commanders,...

 to the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 under Robert Guiscard
Robert Guiscard
Robert d'Hauteville, known as Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria, from Latin Viscardus and Old French Viscart, often rendered the Resourceful, the Cunning, the Wily, the Fox, or the Weasel was a Norman adventurer conspicuous in the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily...

 and his son Bohemund
Bohemund I of Antioch
Bohemond I , Prince of Taranto and Prince of Antioch, was one of the leaders of the First Crusade. The Crusade had no outright military leader, but instead was ruled by a committee of nobles...

 in the Battle of Dyrrhachium
Battle of Dyrrhachium (1081)
The Battle of Dyrrhachium took place on October 18, 1081 between the Byzantine Empire, led by the Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, and the Normans of southern Italy under Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria...

. Byzantine control was restored a few years later but the city was lost again in 1185, this time to the Norman King William II of Sicily
William II of Sicily
William II , called the Good, was king of Sicily from 1166 to 1189. William's character is very indistinct. Lacking in military enterprise, secluded and pleasure-loving, he seldom emerged from his palace life at Palermo. Yet his reign is marked by an ambitious foreign policy and a vigorous diplomacy...

. In 1205, after the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, the city was transferred to the rule of the Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 who formed the "Duchy of Durazzo". This Duchy was destroyed in 1213 and the city was taken by the Despotate of Epirus
Despotate of Epirus
The Despotate or Principality of Epirus was one of the Byzantine Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire that emerged in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. It claimed to be the legitimate successor of the Byzantine Empire, along with the Empire of Nicaea, and the Empire of Trebizond...

. In 1257 Durrës was briefly occupied by the King of Sicily, Manfred of Hohenstaufen
Manfred of Sicily
Manfred was the King of Sicily from 1258 to 1266. He was a natural son of the emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen but his mother, Bianca Lancia , is reported by Matthew of Paris to have been married to the emperor while on her deathbed.-Background:Manfred was born in Venosa...

. It was re-occupied by the Despote of Epirus Michael II until 1259 when the Despotate was defeated by the Byzantine Empire of Nicaea
Empire of Nicaea
The Empire of Nicaea was the largest of the three Byzantine Greek successor states founded by the aristocracy of the Byzantine Empire that fled after Constantinople was occupied by Western European and Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade...

 in the Battle of Pelagonia
Battle of Pelagonia
The Battle of Pelagonia took place in September of 1259, between the Empire of Nicaea and the Despotate of Epirus, Sicily and the Principality of Achaea...

. In 1270's Durrës was again controlled by Nikephoros I Angelos, the son of Despot Michael II who in 1278 was forced to yield the city to Charles d' Anjou (Charles I of Sicily
Charles I of Sicily
Charles I , known also as Charles of Anjou, was the King of Sicily by conquest from 1266, though he had received it as a papal grant in 1262 and was expelled from the island in the aftermath of the Sicilian Vespers of 1282...

).

Five years later, in ca. 1273, it was wrecked by a devastating earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 (according to George Pachymeres
George Pachymeres
Georgius Pachymeres , a Byzantine Greek historian and miscellaneous writer, was born at Nicaea, in Bithynia, where his father had taken refuge after the capture of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204...

; R. Elsie, Early Albania (2003), p. 12) but soon recovered. It was briefly occupied by the King Milutin of Serbia in 1296.
In early 14th century the city was under the rule of a coalition between Anjous, Hungarians and the Albanian rulers of the Thopia family. In 1317 or 1318 the area was taken by the Serbs and remained under their rule till 1350's. At that time the Popes, supported by the Anjous, increased their diplomatic and political activity in the area, by using the Latin bishops, including the archbishop of Durrës. The city had been the religious center of the Catholicism after the Anjou were installed in Durrës. In 1272 a Catholic archbishop was installed and till mid 14th c. a double line of Catholic and Orthodox archbishops of Durrës seem to exist.

When the Serbian King (Tsar) Dušan, died in 1355, the city passed into the hands of the Albanian family of Thopias. In 1376 the Navarrese Company
Navarrese Company
The Navarrese Company was a company of mercenaries, mostly from Navarre and Gascony, which fought in Greece during the late 14th century and early 15th century, in the twilight of Frankish power in the dwindling remnant of the Latin Empire...

 Louis of Évreux, Duke of Durazzo who had gained the rights on the Albanian Kingdom from his second wife, attacked and conquered the city, but in 1383, Karl Topia took once again control of the city. The Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 regained control in 1392 and retained the city, known as Durazzo in those years, as part of the Albania Veneta
Albania Veneta
Venetian Albania was the name for the possessions of the Venetian Republic in southern Dalmatia that existed from 1420 to 1797. It originally covered the coastal area of what is now northern Albania and the coast of Montenegro, but the Albanian and southern Montenegrin parts were lost to the...

. It fended off a siege by the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 Sultan Mehmed II
Mehmed II
Mehmed II , was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for a short time from 1444 to September 1446, and later from...

 in 1466 but fell to Ottoman forces in 1501.

Durrës became a Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 city quite early on; its bishopric
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 was created around AD 58 and was raised to the status of an archbishopric in 449. It was also the seat of a Greek Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 metropolitan bishop
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

. Under Turkish rule, many of its inhabitants converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and many mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s were erected. This city was renamed as Dıraç, the city did not prosper under the Ottomans and its importance declined greatly. By the mid-19th century, its population was said to have been only about 1,000 people living in some 200 households. Its decrepitude was noted by foreign observers in the early 20th century: "The walls are dilapidated; plane-trees grow on the gigantic ruins of its old Byzantine citadel; and its harbour, once equally commodious and safe, is gradually becoming silted up." It was a sanjak
Sanjak
Sanjaks were administrative divisions of the Ottoman Empire. Sanjak, and the variant spellings sandjak, sanjaq, and sinjaq, are English transliterations of the Turkish word sancak, meaning district, banner, or flag...

 centre in İşkodra Vilayet before 1912.

20th century


Durrës was an active city in the Albanian national liberation movement in the periods 1878-1881 and 1910-1912. Ismail Qemali
Ismail Qemali
Ismail Qemal Bej Vlora or commonly Ismail Qemali and in Turkish İsmail Kemal Bey or İsmail Kemal Vlora , was a distinguished leader of the Albanian national movement, founder of the modern Albanian state and its first head of state and government.-Life:He was born in Avlonya to a noble family...

 raised the Albanian flag
Flag of Albania
The national flag of Albania is a red flag with a silhouetted black double-headed eagle in the centre. It is the only red and black flag of a recognised sovereign state....

 on November 26, 1912 but the city was captured by the Kingdom of Serbia
Kingdom of Serbia
The Kingdom of Serbia was created when Prince Milan Obrenović, ruler of the Principality of Serbia, was crowned King in 1882. The Principality of Serbia was ruled by the Karađorđevic dynasty from 1817 onwards . The Principality, suzerain to the Porte, had expelled all Ottoman troops by 1867, de...

 three days later during the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

. On November 29, 1912 Durrës became the county town of the Durrës County
Durrës County (Kingdom of Serbia)
Durrës County was one of the counties of the Kingdom of Serbia established on 29 November 1912 on the part of the territory of Albania taken from the Ottoman Empire during the First Balkan War. Durrës County had four districts : Durres, Lezha, Elbasan and Tirana...

  one of the counties of the Kingdom of Serbia
Kingdom of Serbia
The Kingdom of Serbia was created when Prince Milan Obrenović, ruler of the Principality of Serbia, was crowned King in 1882. The Principality of Serbia was ruled by the Karađorđevic dynasty from 1817 onwards . The Principality, suzerain to the Porte, had expelled all Ottoman troops by 1867, de...

 established on the part of the territory of Albania
Albania (toponym)
The toponym Albania may indicate several different geographical regions: a country in the Balkans; an ancient land in the Caucasus; as well as Scotland, Albania being a Latinization of a Gaelic name for Scotland, Alba...

 occupied from Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. The Durrës County had four districts : Durres
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

, Lezha, Elbasan
Elbasan
Elbasan is a city in central Albania. It is located on the Shkumbin River in the District of Elbasan and the County of Elbasan, at...

 and Tirana
Tirana
Tirana is the capital and the largest city of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a local ruler from Mullet, although the area has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. Tirana became Albania's capital city in 1920 and has a population of over...

. The army of the Kingdom of Serbia retreated from Durrës in April 1913. The city became Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

's second national capital (after Vlora) on March 7, 1914 under the brief rule of Prince William of Wied.

During the First World War, the city was occupied by Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in 1915 and by Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 in 1916-1918. It was captured by the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 in October 1918. Restored to Albanian sovereignty, Durrës became the country's temporary capital between 1918 and March 1920. It experienced an economic boom due to Italian investments and developed into a major seaport under the rule of King Zog
Zog of Albania
Zog I, Skanderbeg III of the Albanians , born Ahmet Muhtar Bey Zogolli, was King of the Albanians from 1928 to 1939. He was previously Prime Minister of Albania and President of Albania .-Background and early political career:...

, with a modern harbour being constructed in 1927.

An earthquake in 1926 damaged some of the city and the rebuilding that followed gave the city its more modern appearance. During the 1930s, the Bank of Athens
Bank of Athens
The Bank of Athens was a bank in Athens, Greece. It was founded in 1893 and merged in 1999. It continued the name of an earlier but no longer operating Anglo-Greek bank that Michel Emmanuel Rodocanachi had established in the UK.-History:...

 had a branch in the city.

The Second World War saw Durrës (called Durazzo again in Italian) and the rest of Albania being annexed to the Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 between 1939–1943, then occupied by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 until 1944. Durrës's strategic value as a seaport made it a high-profile military target for both sides. It was the site of the initial Italian landings on 7 April 1939 as well as the launch point for the ill-fated Italian invasion of Greece. The city was heavily damaged by Allied
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 bombing during the war and the port installations were blown up by the retreating Germans in 1944.

The Communist regime of Enver Hoxha
Enver Hoxha
Enver Halil Hoxha was a Marxist–Leninist revolutionary andthe leader of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania...

 rapidly rebuilt the city following the war, establishing a variety of heavy industries in the area and expanding the port. It became the terminus of Albania's first railway, begun in 1947. In the late 1980s the city was briefly renamed Durrës-Enver Hoxha. The city was and continuous to remain the center of Albanian mass beach tourism.

Following the collapse of communist rule in 1990, Durrës became the focus of mass emigrations from Albania with ships being hijacked in the harbour and sailed at gunpoint to Italy. In one month alone, August 1991, over 20,000 people migrated to Italy in this fashion. Italy intervened militarily, putting the port area under its control, and the city became the center of the European Community's "Operation Pelican", a food-aid program.

In 1997, Albania slid into anarchy
1997 rebellion in Albania
The 1997 unrest in Albania, also known as the Lottery Uprising or Anarchy in Albania, was an uprising sparked by Ponzi scheme failures...

 following the collapse of a massive pyramid scheme
Pyramid scheme
A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public...

 which devastated the national economy. An Italian-led peacekeeping force was controversially deployed to Durrës and other Albanian cities to restore order, although there were widespread suggestions that the real purpose of "Operation Alba
Operation Alba
Operation Alba was a multinational peacekeeping force sent to Albania in 1997. Led by Italy, it was intended to help the Albanian government restore law and order in their troubled country after the 1997 rebellion in Albania....

" was to prevent economic refugees continuing to use Albania's ports as a route to migrate to Italy.

After the turn of the century, the city has witnessed a modest revival as many streets have been paved, parks revamped and facades painted.

Economy


Durrës is still an important link to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 due to its port and its proximity to the Italian port cities, notably Bari, to which daily ferries run. As well as the dockyard, it also possesses an important shipyard and manufacturing industries, notably producing leather, plastic and tobacco products. The neighbouring district produce wine and a variety of foodstuffs.

Climate


Durrës has a typical Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 with hot, dry summers and cool winters. The average of water temperature in Durrës is from 14 °C (57 °F) in February to 26 °C (79 °F) in August. The summer in Durrës starts from May to middle of October .

Sights



Some important buildings in Durrës include the main library, the cultural center with the Aleksander Moisiu
Aleksander Moisiu
- Early years :He was born in Trieste to Konstantin Moisiu from Kavajë, who was a rich Albanian merchant of oil and wheat and an Arbëresh mother Amalia di Rada, daughter of an Italian writer and doctor from Trieste....

theater, the Estrada Theater, the puppet theater, and the philharmonic orchestra. There are also several museums such as the Archaeological Museum, Ahmet Zogu's Villa of Durrës and the Museum of History.

The city's beaches are also a popular destination for many foreign and local tourists, with an estimated 600,000 tourists visiting annually. Many Albanians from Tirana and elsewhere spend their summer vacations on the beaches of Durrës.

The largest amphitheatre
Durrës Amphitheatre
The Durrës Amphitheatre is a large Roman amphitheatre in the city of Durrës, Albania. Built in the 2nd century AD, it is located in the centre of the city and is only half unearthed. The Durrës Amphitheatre is one of the largest amphitheatres in the Balkan peninsula, once having a capacity of...

 in the Balkans is located in the city close to the harbour. This first-century construction is currently under consideration for inscription as a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage site.

Twin towns — sister cities

Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Turkey Pristina
Pristina
Pristina, also spelled Prishtina and Priština is the capital and largest city of Kosovo. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous municipality and district....

, Kosovo Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

, Italy Ulcinj
Ulcinj
Ulcinj is a coastal resort town and municipality in Montenegro. The town of Ulcinj has a population of 10,828 of which the majority are Albanians...

, Montenegro Prizren
Prizren
Prizren is a historical city located in southern Kosovo. It is the administrative center of the eponymous municipality and district.The city has a population of around 131,247 , mostly Albanians...

, Kosovo

Notable people

  • Anastasius I (emperor)
    Anastasius I (emperor)
    Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis....

    , Emperor
    Emperor
    An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

     of the Byzantine Empire
    Byzantine Empire
    The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

  • Leonik Tomeu
    Leonik Tomeu
    Leonik Tomeu was an Albanian scholar from Durrës, Albania, professor of philosophy at the University of Padova for 30 years. He achieved fame there as the first professor to teach Aristotle in the original language....

    , professor of Nicholas Copernicus at the University of Padova
  • John Kukuzelis
    John Kukuzelis
    Saint John Kukuzelis or Kukuzel was a medieval Orthodox Christian composer, singer and reformer of Orthodox Church music....

    , famous Byzantine music composer
  • Panajot Pano
    Panajot Pano
    Panajot Pano was an Albanian football player. He started his career as a goalkeeper in the SK Tirana youth academy, but he became the most prolific centre-forward of their arch-rivals, Partizani Tirana...

    , famous soccer player.
  • Abaz Efendi Çelkupa
    Abaz Efendi Çelkupa
    Abaz Çelkupa was a 19th century Albanian politician. He was one of the signatories of the Albanian Declaration of Independence.-References:...

    , signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
    Albanian Declaration of Independence
    The Albanian Declaration of Independence is the declaration of independence of the Albanian Vilayet from the Ottoman Empire. Albania was proclaimed independent in Vlorë on November 28, 1912.-Background:...

  • Mustafa Agë Hanxhiu
    Mustafa Agë Hanxhiu
    Mustafa Hanxhiu was a 19th century Albanian politician. He was one of the signatories of the Albanian Declaration of Independence.-References:...

    , signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
    Albanian Declaration of Independence
    The Albanian Declaration of Independence is the declaration of independence of the Albanian Vilayet from the Ottoman Empire. Albania was proclaimed independent in Vlorë on November 28, 1912.-Background:...

  • Jahja Ballhysa
    Jahja Ballhysa
    Jahja Ballhysa was a 19th century Albanian politician. He was one of the signatories of the Albanian Declaration of Independence in 1912 and the mayor of Durrës in 1926.-References:...

    , signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
    Albanian Declaration of Independence
    The Albanian Declaration of Independence is the declaration of independence of the Albanian Vilayet from the Ottoman Empire. Albania was proclaimed independent in Vlorë on November 28, 1912.-Background:...

  • Dom Nikollë Kaçorri, signatory of the Albanian Declaration of Independence
    Albanian Declaration of Independence
    The Albanian Declaration of Independence is the declaration of independence of the Albanian Vilayet from the Ottoman Empire. Albania was proclaimed independent in Vlorë on November 28, 1912.-Background:...

  • Mirela Manjani
    Mirela Manjani
    Mirela Manjani is a retired Greek javelin thrower. Prior to 1997 she represented Albania.She won the silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics with a personal best of 67.51 m, and the bronze medal in 2004. Manjani is also a European champion and double world champion. Her personal best throw of...

    , athlete
  • Pëllumb Xhufi, historian and former Minister of Foreign Affairs

See also

  • Battle of Dyrrhachium
    Battle of Dyrrhachium
    Battle of Dyrrhachium is the name of three battles fought in, or close to, the ancient city of Dyrrachium:*Battle of Dyrrhachium , fought during Caesar's civil war*Battle of Dyrrhachium , fought between the Bulgarians and the Byzantine Empire...

  • History of Albania
    History of Albania
    The history of Albania emerges from the prehistoric stage from the 4th century BC, with early records of Illyria in Greco-Roman historiography. The modern territory of Albania has no counterpart in antiquity, comprising parts of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia , Macedonia , and Moesia Superior...

  • List of ancient cities in Illyria
  • List of cities in Albania
  • List of traditional Greek place names
  • Tourism in Albania
    Tourism in Albania
    Tourism in Albania is characterized by the archaeological heritage inherited from Greek, Roman and Ottoman times, unspoiled beaches, challenging mountain ranges, Cold War artifacts, unique traditions, unequivocal hospitality, delicious traditional cuisine, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of...

  • Transport in Albania
    Transport in Albania
    Transport in Albania has been rather undeveloped during the Communist period , after which the country has had to make significant investment into transport infrastructure.-History:...

  • Rrok Mirdita
    Rrok Mirdita
    Rrok Kola Mirdita is the Catholic Archbishop of Durrës-Tirana, the Primate of Albania.He was ordained a priest on July 2, 1965, aged 25, and served in ethnic Albanian parishes in Bronx and Westchester counties of New York.On December 25, 1992, aged 53, he was appointed the archbishop of the Roman...

  • Port of Durrës
    Port of Durrës
    The Port of Durrës or Durrës Harbor is a biggest port of Albania in the city of Durrës, Albania.It is an artificial basin that is formed between two moles, with a west-northwesterly oriented entrance approximately wide as it passes between the ends of the moles...

  • The Beauty of Durrës
    The Beauty of Durrës
    The Beauty of Durrës or The Beautiful Maiden of Durrës is a polychromatic mosaic of the 4th century BC; the most ancient and prominent mosaic discovered in Albania up to date. The mosaic is elliptical in shape and depicts a woman’s head on a black background surrounded by flowers and floral elements...


External links