From the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea
Start your journey by travelling to picturesque town of Kruja, situated on the side of the mount Qafe Shtame. Walk through the the old restored bazaar to Skanderbeg Castle. The castle was the citadel, from where the Ottomans were successfully resisted for 35 years from 1443 to 1478.
You will also get to see the Skanderbeg square with its beautiful Ethem Bay Mosque and The Clock Tower dated 1821. The Ethem Bay Mosque is stone build with its unique interior and exterior all decorated with frescos. Then walk along the ministerial buildings towards the infamous “Pyramid”. This has been built as a tomb for the communist dictator Hoxha.
Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg, in 1444 summoned the leaders of the Albanian clans and led them to unite their forces in the fight against the Turks. After 24 years of fighting against their waste armies, he died of malaria.
Shkodra lake located on the border between Albania and Montenegro is the largest lake on Balkan Peninsula. It has unique ecosystem and is one of Europe’s largest bird reserves. The lake is named after Shkodra, one of Albania’s oldest and most historic towns. The main pedestrian promenade, created in the 20th century in neoclassical style allows you to explore the city’s modern face.
Also make sure you visit the city’s castle, Rozafa, dating back to Illyrian times and offering spectacular views. The entrance to this huge castle is located on top of the hill, so there is a 200- metre uphill walk along the steep cobbled path. The fortress majestically towers over the city on a rocky hillside, offers a picturesque view of the surrounding areas and the surrounding three rivers : Drin, Bruna and Kiri.
Kotor is situated in in the most secluded part of Boka Kotorska, dating from from Illyrian period, has developed into an important commercial and artistic centre in the Middle Ages. Many empires battled to take control of the city throughout its long and troubled history. Today with its Square of Arms, Flour Square with Pima and Buca palaces, and the beautiful St. Tryphon Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Budva is the reigning “tourist capital of Montenegro” for all the right reasons. As one of the Adriatic’s Sea oldest citites, Budva’s 2500-year history reaches back from the past to offer us a small walled city, where the walls were built straight out of the Adriatic Sea by the Venetians. What we see today is only a fraction of the city’s splendour at its height, preserved with loving care by the local residents of Budva who are proud of their long history.
Historic city of Ulcinj, one of the oldest settlements in the Adriatic coast was founded in 5th century BC, and was captured by the Romans from the Illyrians in 163 BC. With the division of the Roman Empire, it became part of the Byzantine Empire. During the Middle Ages, it was under South Slavic rule for a few centuries. In 1405 became part of Republic of Venice and in 1571 part of Ottoman Empire. Ulcinj was ceded to the Principality of Montenegro in 1880. Is a famous destination for tourists, because of its Long Beach, Lake Sas, Ada Bojana Island and for its old Uclinj Castle.
From the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean Sea
Durres town was found as a Greek colony named Epidamnus in 627 BC. It later became Dyrrachium, an important staging post for the Roman Empire, a major trading center and the main port on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The ancient city has got many archaeological sites to offer. The biggest amphitheater in Balkans being one of them.
One of the newest museums, is Old Bunker. It is built on three halls and provides an overview of the police force looking as far back as the 1913, a few months after the proclamation of Independence up to the year of 1991, it s history marked by violence, torture, imprisonments and martyrs.
In Elbasan you visit the castle area of ancient Scampis. The town was located on the Roman Road Via Egnatia and still some parts of it are visible today. This was once one of the most important industrial towns of the communistic era.
Ohrid Town – Visit the National Museum, located mainly in the Robev family house, a masterpiece of Ohrid town architecture. Also see the complex of St. Clement’s Church, were you can admire the Gallery of Icons from the 11th to 19th centuries, most of which came via donations from Constantinople and Salonica.
The Classical Theatre is situated below the Ohrid Fortress and provides an open-air venue for summer concerts, operas and plays. It was built approximately 2000 years ago. Make sure you don’t miss the picturesque 9th- century Sveta Sofia church, situated at the foot of the hilly part of Orhid. The cathedral has undergone great change as it was the cathedral church of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, then a mosque and then a storehouse before being transformed back to a church in 1912.
At Ohrid Lake you can also get to enjoy a visit to the Matka Canyon, keep on a eye out for the fascinating caves that can be found within the canyon. Lake Ohrid itself is Europe’s oldest lake having formed over three millions years ago.
Debar City – Here you can enjoy a visit to the old church of St. Jovan Bigorski, which is renowned for its very famous iconostas inside. The church is 900 metres uphill from the main road.
Get a motor boat from Ohrid port for a scenic ride around the lake. From the boat you will see the church of St. Jovan Kaneo, and you can take photographs of the recently rebuilt church of St. Clement. Your boat will take you past the former villa of President Tito, the hotel complexes situated on the shore of the lake and passing to other famous hotels.
Continue to exquisite 10th- century monastery of Sveti Naum on the south side of Lake Ohrid. The monastery traditionally marks the place where the 9th- century missionaries Cyril and Methodius devised the Cyrillic alphabet. The interior of the monastery is decorated with intricate carvings and frescoes.
Also visit the St. Petko’s Church, where you can take the “holy water” and see the springs of Black Drin River, where the waters emerge from underground channels.
Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Kassander, the brother-in-law of Alexander the Great. An important trading center in Roman times, and emerging as a leading Byzantine city from the 6th century AD. The city was largely rebuild after a disastrous fire in 1917, but many ancient buildings managed to survive to it.
The Archaeological Museum houses a stunning collection of gold and silver objects from the “Royal Tombs” at Vergina, in addition to mosaic and ceramics. Also visit Agios Dimitrios Chuch, a 7th century basilica erected on the site of the martyrdom of St. Denetrios, patron saint of Thessaloniki.
Two huge tombs near the modern village of Vergina have been under excavation since their discovery by Professor Andronikos in 1977, one of the greatest archaeological finds of recent years. The vast wealth of gold and silver treasures uncovered from one of the chambers have led historians to believe it was the tomb of Philip II of Macedonia. The remains of small palace with mosaic floors can be seen, together with Romeu’s Tomb, which dates from the 3rd century BC.