Kruja and Durres
After meeting with the guide you will be transferred toward Kruja. As members of a prominent Albanian aristocratic family, the young George Kastrioti and his three brothers were taken hostage and brought up in the Sultan’s court where Scanderbeg attended military school and later fought in the Ottoman army. When the Ottomans were defeated by a multinational Christian army in the Battle of Nis in 1443, Skanderbeg and his troops defected and retuned to Albania where they re-took the Kastriotis’ family’s fortress at Kruje. In the following years, Scanderbeg successfully united the Albanian ruling families against the common enemy and managed to fight off the Ottoman armies until his death in 1468 thus effectively halting their invasion further into Western Europe. Kruje was the center of the Albanian resistance against the Ottomans led by Skanderbeg. Driving along the winding mountain road, you will reach the town’s main square marked by the equestrian statue of Skanderbeg wielding his sword. Continuing uphill and above the town, you will reach the historic fortress and citadel which successfully withstood three Ottoman sieges led by Sultan Murat and later by his son Sultan Mehmed II – the conqueror of Constantinople (now Istanbul). It was only after Skanderbeg’s death that the fortress finally fell and the Albanian resistance was suppressed. One you are in Kruja you will visit the castle,the Scanderbeg and Ethnographic museum and Ottoman-style covered bazaar. After the visit of Kruja you will have lunch at Restaurant Panorama. After lunch your next destination will be Durres. Durres is the largest port of Albania. It also has the status of one of the oldest settlements in Albania being founded in 7th century BC from Greek colonists. Being in such favourable position in the Adriatic Sea, Durres (named Epidamnum from Greeks and Dyrrachium from Romans) has always been envied and was a very influential city under the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires as an important connection point. Its importance still lives today as being one of the most influential cities in country’s economy. Arriving in Durres, the exploration of the city starts with a visit of the Roman Amphitheatre of Durres, the largest in the Balkans built since 2nd century BC. Roman influence here continues with the Trajan’s Baths and the Roman Forum. The famous road of Roman Empire, Via Egnatia, started from Durres as the gateway to the Balkans and hence the Romans fortified the stronghold in Durres which was later reconstructed again by Byzantine Empire and the Venetians, from which Durres inherited the Venetian Tower standing at the beginning of the boulevard. Next follows a relaxing stroll along the boulevard alongside the shore of the sea. Colorful buildings on one side and the sea on the other offer a special pleasure. On the boulevard there are monuments like the Unknown Soldier, a tribute to the lost soldiers of the liberation army of WW2, etc. After the visit in Durres, you will be transferred back to Tirana.
Assistance or guided tour ::