Butrint – The microcosmos of mediterranean
The first Albanian site to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage, in 1992 was Butrint. It is the largest Albanian ancient site, and it is located 18km south of Saranda. The city ruins are from a variety of periods, spanning 2500 years.
Butrint has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was a part of the Greek and Roman colonies. It experienced a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration. Later, that was followed by a short period of Venetian rule. Finally of the city witnessed the eventual abandonment in late medieval times. The present state of the archaeological site shows traces of all the time periods the city has gone through.
The most ancient objects found at the archeological site in Butrint are a stone hammer and a shaft. The artifacts belong to the second half of the second millennium B.C.
Hekateus made first mention of the city at the end of the sixth century B.C., affirming that the city was built according to Troy and that the origin of the name refers to the sacrifice of a bull, Buthrotos, provided by the Trojan prince Aeneas on his way to Dodona. During its early period, Butrint was the center of the Kaonic tribes, later to become part of the kingdom of Epirus.
In the years 1926-1936 the Italian archeologist Luigi Ugolini led excavations in southern Albania, focusing his work in Butrint and Finiq, where he discovered the baptistery, the theater, the basilica, the public baths, the gymnasium , the temple to Minerva , Skea gate and Lion gate of the ancient walls and castle , many houses, and a great number of objects and sand statues of inestimable value.
The most extraordinary objects discovered in the theater of Butrint are the statue of Apollo, the goddess of Butrint, the marble heads of Zeus, the portrait of Agrippina, the head of Livia and many Latin and Greek epigraphs. Parts of the city were rebuilt during the fifth century B.C.
Other monuments of Butrint are the castle of Vivari channel constructed during Ali Pashe Tepelena time, the triangle castle also constructed by him and the Venetian tower constructed in the time when Venetians controlled the access to this area .
Visiting from Saranda?
There is a bus line coming from Saranda to Butrint which departs every 30 minutes from the center of Saranda.
Visiting from Greece?
Butrint is very close to Greece. It is around 30 – 40 minutes driving from the border. Also if you are at the Greek island of Corfu, you may reach to Saranda by ferry.