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Tour of Albania & Macedonia.
Images from the cruise
Meet at airport and transfer to Kruja the centre of Albanian resistance against the Turks under our national hero Scanderbeg. He kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, thus earning the title “Champion of Christ” given by the Pope of the time. We visit the Skanderbeg Museum, a very rich Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar where the best handmade souvenirs can be purchased. Afterward an interesting hospitality treat will take place.
-Kruja- Durres – Tirana
After this interesting start we depart towards Durres one of the oldest towns (founded in 627 B.C.) Here we take a sightseeing tour of the Amphitheatre situated in the middle of the modern city in an inhabited area, and the Archaeological museum rich in arte facts found in the city and its suburbs. After lunch in Durres next to the Adriatik sea we return to the capital Tirana. We take a driven tour of the major sites of Tirana, including the colourful buildings for which the Albanian capital is now known. The dull grey communist architecture buildings have been transformed into modern art canvases through splashes of bright colours and abstract shapes. An ingenious way of uplifting the facades and the moods of the inhabitants. Here we visit the National Museum of History which is a great introduction to the history of the country and its people .
After dinner at the hotel you will have the opportunity to enjoy Tirana by night .You will be with a guide taking in the sights of the square and then crossing Zhan D’Ark and Bajram Curri boulevards by the Tanners’ Bridge over the Lana River. Stop to take in views of the illuminated skyline before arriving at the Pyramid. See the Albanian Parliament Offices, standing in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, which at one time housed the headquarters of the Communist Party. Beyond is the Presidential Palace, and behind it stands the Palace of Congresses.
The Presidential Palace was the site of the Soviet embassy until 1961. At the end of the main boulevard is Mother Teresa Square, named to honor the most famous Albanian nun of the 20th century.
The tour ends at Bloku Area where before was the residence of the communist leader and today you can entertain in numerous bars and clubs. Overnight in hotel.
-Tirana – Elbasan- Struga- Ohrid
After breakfast at the hotel we depart towards Ohrid . We stop at Elbasan for a visit at the castle. Afterwards proceed to Struga famous for its wall of water where the Black Drin River flows out of Lake Ohrid on its way to the Adriatic. After a short visit continue on to Ohrid where we take a familiarization tour of the town, proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage region for its cultural and natural legacy. Overnight in Ohrid.
– Ohrid (UNESCO) – Berat
After breakfast visit: Church “St. Sofia”, built between the 11th and 14th century, was the seat of the Archbishop. “St. Clement”, a classic Orthodox Byzantine church, dominating the Old Town, demonstrates the link between Byzantine and Italian Renaissance art. At “Plaoshnik”, in the 9 the century, St. Clement of Ohrid founded the first University of Europe and educated 3.500 students, St. John at Kaneo, stands alone on a small promontory which juts out into the Lake at the western end of the Old Town, and provides spectacular panoramic views of the Lake and surrounding mountains, Samuil fortress, etc. Other visits include: Saint Painteleimon Church, The Holy Virgin of Peribleptos Church, Icon Gallery, and old Bazaar. Drive towards Berat. Overnight in Berat.
-Berat –Apolonia –Vlora
Berat, is one of the most visited and characteristic towns in Albania under the protection of UNESCO as a patronage of humanity for its architectural uniqueness. After Breakfast we visit the Castle and the Onufri Museum. Berat castle is of particular interest as people still live within its walls in their traditional houses, as have their ancestors for centuries. The castle used to have over 40 churches of which 7 still remain including St.Mary’s church turned into Onufri Museum. Onufri was a famous Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece, using a special red colour. Berat is also known for its close ties with religious practice as two of the oldest bibles in the world have been found here. One dates back from the 6th century AD and the other from the 9th century AD and are internationally renowned for their theological importance. We have a homemade lunch in one of the houses in the castle. Just below the castle we visit the Leaden Mosque, the King’s Mosque, the Bachelor’s Mosque and the Alveti Tekke completing a tour of this town’s religious tolerance.
On the way to Vlora we stop and visit the archeological site of Apolonia one of the most important ancient centres in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. Due to its fame and importance it was known as Apollonia Prima built to honour Apollo. Caesar chose to send his nephew Augustus Octavian to study oratory in Apollonia which is testimony to the importance of this ancient city. Visit the city and an Orthodox monastery turned into an archaeological museum. After the visit we depart to Saranda through the spectacular Albanian Riviera with its traditional villages. At the Llogara National Park we stop at around 1100 metres where spectacular views of the Ionian Sea can be admired. Overnight in Vlora.
– Vlora- Saranda
After an early breakfast we depart for Saranda. Drive on the spectacular Albanian Riviera looking down at the Ionian Sea. Breathtaking sceneries await us at the Llogara pass – 1000 m above sea level. We continue on to Saranda, make a short stop at the fortress of Ali Pasha a fortification used to control the sea trade routes. Then we continue past Saranda, to the ancient city of Butrint a UNESCO world heritage site and the most important archaeological discovery in Albania. Legend associates this city with Trojan settlers who fled Troy under the leadership of Aeneas. In fact the city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of several eras of civilization. Apart the beautiful antique ruins it has the added benefit of being situated in a beautiful peninsula, rich in flora and fauna. After the visits we return to Saranda for overnight.
– Saranda – Gjirokastra
In the morning we depart for Gjirokastra a museum town under the protection of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site with beautiful and very distinct architecture. On the way we stop at the Mesopotam Church where carvings of mythological beasts can be admired on the outer walls making this a distinct church where mythology and religion combine in a place of worship. On the way we stop for a refreshment in Blue Eye Spring a national park.
Afterwards in Gjirokastra we visit the fortress part of which was turned into a political prison for dissidents of the communist regime and an Arms Museum. Visit to the Ethnographic Museum, which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in, as well as a 300 year old house next to it, where the grandeur of Gjirokastra’s master builders can be observed. Overnight in a Gjirokastra House turned hotel, an interesting and unique experience.
– Gjirokastra- Corfu
After breakfast we depart towards Saranda from where you can catch the ferry-boat to Corfu or continue you holidays in Saranda .