A pleasant narrow road overlooking the sea and marshes leads to Butrint through a landscape of olive and orange tree plantations. Butrint is situated 15km south of Saranda. The ancient city of Butrint, which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was first inhabited by Illyrians.
The ancient city of Butrint is much preferable to be visited as an archaeological center, where antiquity and beauty intertwine. The archaeological excavations show that Butrint has been an important center of the Kaonian Illyrians, one of the big tribes of southern Illyria. According to discoveries made in the area, it has been proved that the site was inhabited as early as Paleolithic period. In the 6th century BC Greeks from Corfu settled here, along side Illyrians and the new colony prospered as the result of the trade. By the fifth century BC Buthroton was an Illyrian fortified city. In the fourth century BC Butrint had fallen to Epirus, and in 167 BC it was taken by Rome. It was a seat of a Byzantine bishop in the 10th century. Butrint was captured by the Normans in eleventh century and passed to Venice from 1690 to 1797, when Ali Pasha Tepelena captured it. With the fall of the Pashallek of Janina, in 1822, Butrint passed under Ottoman rule until 1913. Several excavations dating from the 1st and 4th centuries AD can now be visited, among them the Old Amphitheater, the Temple of Asklepios or Aesculapius, the Baptistery, Nymphaeum and the ancient city walls. Do not miss the Baptisteri, with a floor of colorful mosaics. An old fortress house a small museum watches over the whole site.Apollonia
Apollonia is situated 12km from the city of Fier. Illyrian Apollonia was founded at the beginning of the 7th century BC by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra. But the first records we have of their presence there is in 588. During its first years of existence Apollonia kept close contacts with Corcyra and Corinth and played a part of a trade negotiator between Hellenians and Illyrians. Apollonia was in Roman times, a large and flourishing city near Aos river (today Vjosa). Of great interest to be visited are: The Encircling Wall, the Terraced Wall with arched gates, the monument of Agonothetes, the Library, the Odeon, the Portico, the House with mosaics, the Museum of Apollonia, the Church of St.Mary. Unfortunately, some of the statues and objects were appropriated before 1946 by other countries. Those remaining are displayed in the museum, which is housed in a 13th century monastery. The monastery courtyard encloses a Byzantine church dating back to the 14th century. Those foreigners who are interested in archaeological researches need much more time to explore the earliest traces of inhabitation in Albanian territory, which have been discovered in Xara (Saranda) and Gajtan (Shkoder) which date back to Palaeolithic Age, 100.000 years ago; Neolithic Age, 7000-3000 years B.C. include discoveries in Dunavec and Maliq (Korce); Iron Age, 3rd millennium B.C. Piskova (Permet), Barce (Korce), Pazhok (Elbasan). By the end of 2nd millenium and the first half of the 1st millenium B.C. Illyrians set up their settlements on hills encircling them with strong walls in the areas of Gajtan (Shkoder), Kalivo (Sarande), Tren (Korce).Other ancient archaeological sites of Albania to be visited are: Amantia, Bylis, Antigonea, Albanopoli, Selca e Poshtme (Down Selca), Lisi.Amantia
Its name was mentioned for the first time in the 4th century B.C. It is situated on the slope of a high hill and had only its acropolis fortified. By the 3rd century B.C., the town was strengthened economically and minted its own coins. There are still traces of the Aphrodite Temple, Theatre and the Stadium.Bylis
It was the center of Illyrian tribe- Bylins and one of the most important and largest Illyrian cities, which developed during 4th century B.C. During the 3rd century B.C. were build the theatre (8000 seats), the stadium, the gymnasium etc. By the 1st century A.D. Bylis became a Roman colony. During 5th and 6th centuries, it became an important diocesan centre, which is proved by the discoveries of 6 basilicas whose floors are laid with mosaics of early Christian motifs.Antigonea
A city founded in the 3rd century B.C.Albanopoli
On a hill side near the village of Zgerdhesh (Kruje) are the ruins of the ancient city of “Albanopolis”, the capital of the Illyrian tribe “Alban” which flourished from the end of the 3rd century A.D. Its name is mentioned for the first time by Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. It is from the “Alban” Illyrian tribe that the country started to be called “Albania” and the people “Albanians”.Selca e Poshtme (Down Selca).
There have been found ruins of an Illyrian city, which dates back to the 4th – 3rd centuries. At the beginning of 3rd century B.C., it became a centre of the Illyrian region of Dasaretias.Lisi
A city founded by the end of 4th century B.C. During the 3rd-2nd century B.C. its surrounding walls separated it into three areas; Acropolis, Upper town and Down town that extended along Drini river. Its walls, 12 gates, and numerous towers are still well preserved.