Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The fascinating city of Butrint, Albania

In the very south of Albania lies the extraordinary site of Butrint. It is about 24 km south of Sarande [just a mile across the sea from Corfu ] and is almost totally surrounded by water.

Butrint is a microcosm of Mediterranean history, with traces of all the great civilisations of the region represented there. Legend says that the city was founded by exiles fleeing from Troy. The site was inhabited in the 8th century BC. 

The Lion Gate

In the 4th century BC a healing sanctuary was created, dedicated to the god Asclepius. 


The theatre was part of the complex, as watching drama was considered to be a good treatment for illness. When the Romans conquered the city in the 1st Century AD, they added a frontage to this structure. Concerts and plays are still performed here.

 When we visited in May, the area was partially flooded, due to a week of intense rain in the Balkans. Flooding was the reason the city was eventually abandoned, with the people moving north to Sarande.

It is a delight to wander through the eucalyptus groves, with nightingales singing overhead. The peaceful atmosphere of the whole site makes a visit a special experience. From Greek theatre to Roman bath-house to Venetian watch tower or Byzantine basilica, the remains are all worth viewing. And all around are glimpses of the blue water of the Vivari Channel, where fishermen are at work as they have been for thousands of years.
Since 1992 Butrint has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a Wetland Site of International Importance.

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