Vlora is a coastal city. Vlora is not only the second major port, but also a centre of great historical importance. In ancient times the city was known under the name of Aulon. It was her that in 1912, the Assembly was convened to proclaim Albania as an independent state, forming the first National government headed by Ismail Qemali on 28th of November 1912. At this time Vlora became the capital of the country until 1914.
You can drive south from Vlora, following the scenic route leading to Saranda and discover the unspoilt beaches, the Bay of Portopalermo and the traditional villages of Dhermi, Himara and Piqeras, to mention just a few, with their cobbled streets, stone houses and courtyards shaded by old vines.
Vlora is the second major port of the country after Durrës. The city is situated in the South-western part of the country, in a picturesque area along the sea coast. Opposite the town lie the Karaburun Peninsula and the Sazan Island. Vlora has regular maritime connections with the Italian port of Brindisi and seasonal connections with that of Bari.
The town has a rich history. In antique times, it was known by the name of Aulona, which was given to it by early Hellenic settlers. In the Middle Ages the Vlora region became an object of contention between various international powers that wanted to maintain a hold on Albania. During the Ottoman invasion it represented a centre of that power. This is also evidenced by the extensive Ottoman buildings in the city, such as the Great Mosque in the town centre, built in 1542 by the famous Turkish architect Mimar Sinan.
A significant moment in the history of Vlora is the Declaration of Independence prior to the First World War, on 28th November 1912, by Ismail Qemali, a local bey. The event marked the end of five hundred years of Ottoman rule in Albania. The building that was the seat of the first government of an independent Albania is today a place of great interest for tourists.
In the centre of town one's attention is drawn by the Monument of Independence, erected in Sheshi i Flamurit (The Square of the Flag).
Another very interesting religious location is also "Kuz Baba" building of the Bektashi sect, perched up on the hill towering upon the town centre. This spot offers a unique view not only of the town, but also of the entire Vlora Bay.