It would seem that Croatia is the must-do destination for all of those who wish to explore the eastern Adriatic. However, the Albanian share of the of the Adriatic Sea is just as beautiful as its Croatian cousin but much less crowded and also a fraction of the cost.
The city and surrounding areas are absolutely beautiful.
If you happen to be in the area, you really have no excuse for not spending a day or two in this relatively quiet little part of southeastern Europe and exploring both the city and the surrounding areas. Below are some of the things that you should be checking out in and around Vlora, Albania.
Main Attractions in the City of Vlora, Albania
Flag’s Square (Sheshi i Flamurit)
Flag’s Square, known locally as Sheshi i Flamurit, is a plaza dedicated to Albania’s independence movement. At its center is the Independence Monument, a sculpture created by the Albanian artist Mumtaz Dhrami. Near the base of the monument is the grave of Ismail Qemali, a prominent leader of Albania’s independence movement and the country’s first prime minister.
Dating back to at least the 16th century, the Muradi mosque is a small but notable Ottoman-era structure that was designed by one of the greatest architects of his day, the Albanian Sinan Pasha. It’s a modest but nevertheless interesting structure from a historically significant period of Albania’s history.
National Museum of Independence
Close to the city’s harbour, the National Museum of Independence is actually a moderately-sized villa that was the HQ Albania’s first post-independence government in 1912. Inside you can see what the rooms and offices looked like as well as artifacts and historic photographs from the time period. It is a good place to learn about Albania’s short but first taste of independence during the tumultuous years just before World War I.
The Kaninë Castle is an ancient ruined Byzantine fortress whose foundations are believed to go back to the 3rd century BCE. It is believed that the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I expanded the fortress to serve as a base for keeping the peoples of the western part of his empire in line. It is also possible that he simply liked the view of the Adriatic that the castle provides, since this particular region wasn’t atypically a volatile part of his domain. Whatever the real reason for the castle’s construction, it occupied one of the more scenic parts of Byzantine Albania.
The castle rises 380 meters above the sea and is located roughly 6 kilometers from Vlora. If you want to read more about the history of this pretty cool place, the best thing that I could find about this place is from this Byzantine military history blog. The other here has really done his homework.
One of the area’s most famous attractions is just a 25 minute drive from downtown Vlora. The Zvërnec Monastery is a superbl-preserved 13th century Byzantine structure secluded amongst the pines of Zvërnec island. To get to the Island, one has to cross a 270 meter-long wooden bridge that connects it to the mainland. It’s both a uniquely beautiful and tranquil place that ranks as one of the best places to visit in southwestern Albania.
Just off of Sheshi i Flamurit, Vlorë’s main square, lies the newly renovated Muzeu Historik, or the Historical Museum. It is here that you will find all sorts of artifacts from Albania’s history dating back to the bronze Age. There are also impressive exhibits covering Roman and Byzantine Albania as well. This is the place to learn more about the rich heritage of the surrounding area.
This is a small but unique museum filled with old artifacts and exhibits depicting various aspects of traditional Albanian life. It’s a little hard to find but worth the visit. It’s also close to the Muzeu Historik (see above).
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