Weekend in Fier & Vlore

Cicero, the famed Roman Orator, was captivated by the beauty of Apollonia and in his Philippics, referred to it as "magna urbs et gravis," or "great and important city."

Fieri (Albanian: Fier or Fieri) is a city in southwest Albania, in the district and county of the same name. Fier is 8 km (5 mi) from the ruins of the ancient city of Apollonia. This district is also rich in other archaeological sites and post Byzantine monuments.
Apollonia was an ancient city in Illyria, located on the right bank of the Aous River (the modern-day Vjosë River). It was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, on a site initially occupied by Illyrian tribes. Apollonia flourished during the period of Roman rule in the area and was home to a renowned school of philosophy. The city began to decline in the 3rd century CE when its harbor began silting up as a result of an earthquake. Cicero, the famed Roman Orator, was captivated by the beauty of Apollonia and in his Philippics, referred to it as “magna urbs et gravis,” or “great and important city.” Archaeological excavations have shown that Apollonia achieved its zenith around the 4th-3rd centuries BC. Sources depict a flourishing culture, with a busy harbor along this active trading route. Apollonia, like Dyrrachium further north, was an important port on the Illyrian coast as the most convenient link between Brundusium and northern Greece, and as one of the western starting points of the Via Egnatia leading east to Thessaloniki and Byzantium in Thrace. It had its own mint, stamping coins that have been found as far away as the basin of the Danube. The city has a 4 km long wall encircling an area of 137 hectares. It has been estimated that during the peak of civilization in Apollonia as many as 70,000 inhabitants lived inside the city gates. Among the most interesting sights are the city council building with its surviving facade, the library, the triumphal arch, and the temple of Artemis. Also noteworthy are the Odeon, which dates from the 2nd century BC and once accommodated approximately 10,000 spectators, and the two-story, 77 meter long covered walkway, or “stoa.” An earthquake in the 3rd century CE altered the path of the Vjosë River and caused severe infrastructure damage. The harbor eventually filled with silt, effectively ending trade. The once proud city declined until it was nearly uninhabited. It was “rediscovered” in the 1700’s, and archaeological efforts have continued intermittently throughout the 20th century. Today the site can easily be accessed from the nearby city of Fier and offers both unique views of the Adriatic coastline as well as an extensive collection of historical and archaeological items of interest.

Called the “City of the flag” or “City with two seas” Vlora is regarded as the pearl of the Albanian tourism, with its shores, Karaburun, Sazan, Llogora, Castle of Kanina, Narta Lagoon, numerous beaches, monuments, people, land and sea.

Vlora (alb. Vlorë), known also as Valona, is located in south-western Albania where the two seas, Adriatic and Ionian, meet. Vlora enjoys a beautiful position beacause it is the gatway to the Albanian Riviera , which is the gem of Albanian Tourist places. The town with its wide boulevards decorated by huge palm trees has a real southern Mediterranean feel to it. It is located in front of Karaburuni peninsula and Sazani Island, close to various sandy and rocky beaches and the scenic nearby mountains. Vlora is Albania’s second largest port, having regular ferry boat connections with Italian ports of Bari and Brindisi. The oldest traces of civilization in the area of Vlora date back to the 6th century B.C. In ancient times the city started as a port, and was known under the name of Aulona, famous for its olive groves and vineyards. During the 4th century AD was frequently mentioned as a landing port for ships of goods from the ports of Otranto and Brindisi, as well as an important stop over between the prosperous ancient cities of Apollonia and Butrint. After the fall of Apollonia and Orichum, it became the principal port of Illyria. In the fifth century Aulona was the centre of diocese. The emigrations of barbarians damaged it badly and brought the withdrawal of the city deeper in land. During the Middle Ages the city was fused into one with the fortress of Kanina, which is situated a few kilometres to the south-east. At the fourteenth century, Vlora became an important trading and handicraft centre noted apart from wines and salt, for its swords, its ships and its silk. The Turks invasion took place in 1417. In 1531 Sultan Sulejmani built a fortress, which is believed to have been designed by the architect Sinani. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Vlora had again become an important economic centre and port it was taken by Ali Pasha Tepelena in 1812. Although an important town throughout history its claim to fame came on November 28th, 1912, when the National Assembly of Albania declared the independence of Albania in Vlora, to end a five century Ottoman rule. The town was the first capital of independent Albania.

Highlights of the tour

  • Apollonia Archaeological Park
  • Vlora City Center.
  • Kuzum Baba.
  • Muradi Mosque.
  • Riviera
  • Llogora National Park
  • Zvernec Monastery.

Meeting and greeting with the group at hotel lobby and then drive to Fier, approx. 120 km from Tirana. After a short driving through the city center, we take the road to Apollonia Archaeological Park where we will visit the famous Church of St. Mary and the ruins of the once famous city of Apollonia. Then we proceed to Vlora, 35 KM from Fier. Lunch by the seaside. Accomodation in hotel and in the afternoon we start to explore the city center, the Muradi Mosque and the Kuzum Baba holy place. This is on top of a hill, with a panoramic view of the city and the bay in general. The next morning we drive to Llogora National Park where we will have lunch in the middle of a forest, on top of the mountain. The road to Llogora goes by the seaside, the bay of Vlora, one of the most beautiful parts of the Albanian riviera. After lunch we will have a coffee on the exit of the national park, with a panoramic view of the Ionian sea, a couple of Greek islands in the distance and some of the most famous beaches of Albania down below. Then we return to Tirana, end of the tour.
Price includes: Transport with comfortable couch, hotel accomodation, professional guide throughout the program.
Entrance fees, where applicable, are not included. Food, drinks and tips not included.

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