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Fletet e Verdha - Durres-i - ne Flete te Verdha
 
Te dhena administrative
Shteti Albania ( Shqiperia )
Shteti Shqipėria
Qarku Qarku i Durresit
Rrethi Rrethi i Durres
Targat e automjeteve DR
Popullsia
113,249 banorė
Kodi postar 2001-2009
Prefiksi telefonik +355 (0) 52
Bashkia e Durresit
Politika
Kryetari Vangjush Dako
Partia udhėheqėse Partia Socialiste
Tė tjera
Vendasit Durrsake
Zona kohore
Zakonisht ZKEQ (UTC+1)
Nė verė (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
  Country Albania
County Durrės County
District Durrės District
Regions (Rajone) 6
Founded 627 BC
Government
Mayor Vangjush Dako (PS)[1]
Area
Municipality and City 46.3 km2 (17.9 sq mi)
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)[2]
Municipality and City 113,249
Density 2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
Metro 265,330
Time zone Central European Time (UTC+1)
Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 2001-2009
Area code(s) (+355) 52
Vehicle registration DR

 

 


The city was named in Greek as Epidamnos (Ἐπίδαμνος) and Dyrrhachion (Δυρράχιον), or in Latin Epidamnus and Dyrrachium. The name Dyrrhachion is usually explained as a Greek compound from δυσ- 'bad' and ῥαχία 'rocky shore, flood, roaring waves',[5] an explanation already hinted at in antiquity by Cassius Dio, who writes it referred to the difficulties of the rocky coastline,[6] while also reporting other Roman authors linked it to the name of an eponymous hero Dyrrachius. The modern names of the city in Albanian (Durrės) and Italian (Durazzo) are derived from Dyrrachium through the Medieval Slavic form Дърачь (Dŭračĭ) (modern Serbian: Драч/Drač (Dratch)),[7] from the era when the city was held by the Bulgarian and Serbian empires. This is also the root of the Ottoman Turkish name Dıraē.

In English usage, the Italian form Durazzo used to be widespread, but the local Albanian name Durrės has gradually replaced it in recent decades.
History
Ancient
Ancient Greek coin of Dyrrachium. Obv. Cow feeding a calf. Rev. Two stylized thunders of Zeus with the letters ΔΥΡ (DYR).

Though surviving remains are minimal,[8] as one of the oldest cities in Albania, the city was founded as Epidamnos in the ancient region of Illyria in 627 BC by ancient Greek[9] colonists from Corinth and Corcyra, modern-day Corfu. The general vicinity of Epidamnos was called Epidamnia.[10] The city's geographical position was highly advantageous, as it was situated around a natural rocky harbour which was surrounded by inland swamps and high cliffs on the seaward side, making the city very difficult to attack from either land or sea.

Epidamnos was noted for being a politically advanced society, prompting Aristotle[11] to praise its political system in controlling trade between the Greek colonists and the local population.
Durrės Amphitheatre

However, Corinth and Corcyra, each with a claim to be "mother city" (metropolis), quarreled over the city, helping to precipitate the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC as one of the most significant battles took place on Epidamnos' seaside. Epidamnos was seized by Glaukias, an Illyrian king, in 312 BC with the help of the local Greek oligarchy.[12] Later Queen Teuta attacked Epidamnos but withdrew when the Romans arrived the same year (229 BC) and expelled the Illyrian garrison from the city, including it thereafter in their protectorate. The Romans replaced the rule of Teuta with that of Demetrius of Pharos, one of her generals.[13] He lost his kingdom, including Epidamnus, to the Romans in 219 BC at the Second Illyrian War. In the Third Illyrian War Epidamnus was attacked by Gentius but he was defeated by the Romans[14] at the same year.
The Beauty of Durrės

For Catullus, the city was Durrachium Hadriae tabernam, "the taberna of the Adriatic", one of the stopping places for a Roman traveling up the Adriatic, as Catullus had done himself in the sailing season of 56.
Roman and Byzantine rule

After the Illyrian Wars with the Roman Republic in 229 BC ended in a decisive defeat for the Illyrians, the city passed to Roman rule, under which it was developed as a major military and naval base. The Romans renamed it Dyrrachium (Greek: Δυρράχιον / Dyrrhachion). They considered the name Epidamnos to be inauspicious because of its wholly coincidental similarities with the Latin word damnum, meaning "loss" or "harm". The meaning of Dyrrachium ("bad spine" or "difficult ridge" in Greek) is unclear, but it has been suggested that it refers to the imposing cliffs near the city. Julius Caesar's rival Pompey made a stand there in 48 BC before fleeing south to Greece. Under Roman rule, Dyrrachium prospered; it became the western end of the Via Egnatia, the great Roman road that led to Thessalonica and on to Constantinople. Another lesser road led south to the city of Buthrotum, the modern Butrint. The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus made the city a colony for veterans of his legions following the Battle of Actium, proclaiming it a civitas libera (free town).

In the 4th century, Dyrrachium was made the capital of the Roman province of Epirus nova. It was the birthplace of the emperor Anastasius I in c. 430. Some time later that century, Dyrrachium was struck by a powerful earthquake which destroyed the city's defences. Anastasius I rebuilt and strengthened the city walls, thus creating the strongest fortifications in the western Balkans. The 12 m (36 ft)-high walls were so thick that, according to the Byzantine historian Anna Komnene, four horsemen could ride abreast on them. Significant portions of the ancient city defences still remain, although they have been much reduced over the centuries.

Like much of the rest of the Balkans, Dyrrachium and the surrounding Dyrraciensis provinciae suffered considerably from barbarian incursions during the Migrations Period. It was besieged in 481 by Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, and in subsequent centuries had to fend off frequent attacks by the Bulgarians. Unaffected by the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city continued under the Byzantine Empire as an important port and a major link between the Empire and western Europe.
Middle Ages
Durrės in 1573

The city and the surrounding coast became a Byzantine province (the Theme of Dyrrhachium) in the early 9th century. Byzantine rule was contested by the Bulgarians under Simeon the Great, but it remained in Byzantine hands until the late 10th century, when Samuel of Bulgaria conquered the city and held it until c. 1005.

Dyrrachium was lost in February 1082 by the emperor Alexios I Komnenos to the Normans under Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemund in the Battle of Dyrrhachium. Byzantine control was restored a few years later but the city was lost again in 1185, this time to the Norman King William II of Sicily. In 1205, after the Fourth Crusade, the city was transferred to the rule of the Republic of Venice, which formed the "Duchy of Durazzo". This Duchy was conquered in 1213 and the city taken by the Despotate of Epirus. In 1257, Durrės was briefly occupied by the King of Sicily, Manfred of Hohenstaufen. It was re-occupied by the Despote of Epirus Michael II until 1259 when the Despotate was defeated by the Byzantine Empire of Nicaea in the Battle of Pelagonia. In the 1270s, Durrės was again controlled by Nikephoros I Angelos, the son of Despot Michael II, who in 1278 was forced to yield the city to Charles d' Anjou (Charles I of Sicily).
Venetian Tower of Durrės, part of Durrės Castle

In c. 1273, it was wrecked by a devastating earthquake (according to George Pachymeres; R. Elsie, Early Albania (2003), p. 12) but soon recovered. It was briefly occupied by King Milutin of Serbia in 1296. In the early 14th century, the city was ruled by a coalition of Anjous, Hungarians, and Albanians of the Thopia family. In 1317 or 1318, the area was taken by the Serbs and remained under their rule until the 1350s. At that time the Popes, supported by the Anjous, increased their diplomatic and political activity in the area, by using the Latin bishops, including the archbishop of Durrės. The city had been a religious center of Catholicism after the Anjou were installed in Durrės. In 1272, a Catholic archbishop was installed, and until the mid-14th century there were both Catholic and Orthodox archbishops of Durrės.[16]
Durrės Ancient City Wall Entrance

Two Irish pilgrims who visited Albania on their way to Jerusalem in 1322, reported that Durrės was “inhabited by Latins, Greeks, perfidious Jews and barbaric Albanians”.
When the Serbian King (Tsar) Dušan died in 1355, the city passed into the hands of the Albanian family of Thopias. In 1376 the Navarrese Company Louis of Évreux, Duke of Durazzo, who had gained the rights on the Kingdom of Albania from his second wife, attacked and conquered the city, but in 1383 Karl Topia regained control of the city.[18] The Republic of Venice regained control in 1392 and retained the city, known as Durazzo in those years, as part of the Albania Veneta. It fended off a siege by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1466 but fell to Ottoman forces in 1501.

Durrės became a Christian city quite early on; its bishopric was created around 58 and was raised to the status of an archbishopric in 449. It was also the seat of a Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop. Under Turkish rule, many of its inhabitants converted to Islam and many mosques were erected. This city was renamed as Dıraē but did not prosper under the Ottomans and its importance declined greatly. By the mid-19th century, its population was said to have been only about 1,000 people living in some 200 households. Its decrepitude was noted by foreign observers in the early 20th century: "The walls are dilapidated; plane-trees grow on the gigantic ruins of its old Byzantine citadel; and its harbour, once equally commodious and safe, is gradually becoming silted up."[19] It was a main centre in İşkodra Vilayet before 1912.
20th century
Question book-new.svg
This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2010)
Royal Palace of Durrės.

Durrės was an active city in the Albanian national liberation movement in the periods 1878-1881 and 1910-1912. Ismail Qemali raised the Albanian flag on November 26, 1912 but the city was occupied by the Kingdom of Serbia three days later during the First Balkan War. On November 29, 1912, Durrės became the county town of the Durrės County (Serbian: Драчки округ) one of the counties of the Kingdom of Serbia established on the part of the territory of Albania occupied from Ottoman Empire.
William, Prince of Albania and his wife Princess Sophie of Albania arriving in Durrės, the capital of Albania on 7 March 1914.

The Durrės County had four districts (Serbian: срез): Durrės, Lezha, Elbasan and Tirana.[20] The army of the Kingdom of Serbia retreated from Durrės in April 1913.[21] The city became Albania's second national capital (after Vlora) on March 7, 1914 under the brief rule of Prince William of Wied.[4] It remained Albania's capital until February 11, 1920 when the Congress of Lushnjė made Tirana the new capital.

During the First World War, the city was occupied by Italy in 1915 and by Austria-Hungary in 1916-1918. It was captured by the Allies in October 1918. Restored to Albanian sovereignty, Durrės became the country's temporary capital between 1918 and March 1920. It experienced an economic boom due to Italian investments and developed into a major seaport under the rule of King Zog, with a modern harbour being constructed in 1927.

An earthquake in 1926 damaged some of the city and the rebuilding that followed gave the city its more modern appearance. During the 1930s, the Bank of Athens had a branch in the city.
Italian soldiers entering the city on 7 April 1939 after facing fierce resistance from Mujo Ulqinaku and the Royal Albanian Army.

The Second World War saw Durrės (called Durazzo again in Italian) and the rest of Albania being annexed to the Kingdom of Italy between 1939–1943, then occupied by Nazi Germany until 1944. Durrės's strategic value as a seaport made it a high-profile military target for both sides. It was the site of the initial Italian landings on 7 April 1939 (and was fiercely defended by Mujo Ulqinaku) as well as the launch point for the ill-fated Italian invasion of Greece. The city was heavily damaged by Allied bombing during the war and the port installations were blown up by the retreating Germans in 1944.

The Communist regime of Enver Hoxha rapidly rebuilt the city following the war, establishing a variety of heavy industries in the area and expanding the port. It became the terminus of Albania's first railway, begun in 1947. In the late 1980s, the city was briefly renamed Durrės-Enver Hoxha. The city was and continuous to remain the center of Albanian mass beach tourism.

Following the collapse of communist rule in 1990, Durrės became the focus of mass emigrations from Albania with ships being hijacked in the harbour and sailed at gunpoint to Italy. In one month alone, August 1991, over 20,000 people migrated to Italy in this fashion. Italy intervened militarily, putting the port area under its control, and the city became the center of the European Community's "Operation Pelican", a food-aid program.

In 1997, Albania slid into anarchy following the collapse of a massive pyramid scheme which devastated the national economy. An Italian-led peacekeeping force was controversially deployed to Durrės and other Albanian cities to restore order, although there were widespread suggestions that the real purpose of "Operation Alba" was to prevent economic refugees continuing to use Albania's ports as a route to migrate to Italy.

Following the start of the 21st century, Durrės has been revitalized as many streets were repaved, while parks and faēades experienced a face lift.
Economy
Durrės seaside seen from the SH2 expressway exit ramp
Torra (Venetian tower) as part of Durrės Castle is touristic point.

Durrės is an important link to Western Europe due to its port and its proximity to the Italian port cities, notably Bari, to which daily ferries run. As well as the dockyard, it also possesses an important shipyard and manufacturing industries, notably producing leather, plastic and tobacco products.

The southern coastal stretch is renowned for its traditional mass beach tourism having experienced uncontrolled urban development. The city's beaches are also a popular destination for many foreign and local tourists, with an estimated 800,000 tourists visiting annually. Many Albanians from Tirana and elsewhere spend their summer vacations on the beaches of Durrės. In 2012, new water sanitation systems are being installed to completely eliminate sea water pollution. In contrast, the northern coastal stretch is mostly unspoiled and set to become an elite tourism destination as a number of beach resorts are being built since 2009. Neighboring districts are known for the production of good wine and a variety of foodstuffs.

The port has experienced major upgrades in recent years culminating with the opening of the new terminal in July 2012. In 2012, The Globe and Mail ranked Durrės at no. 1 among 8 exciting new cruise ports to explore.[22]
Climate

Durrės has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool winters. The average of water temperature in Durrės is from 14 °C (57 °F) in February to 26 °C (79 °F) in August. The summer in Durrės starts from May to middle of October .

The southern part of the coastal plain is characterized by a relatively dry Mediterranean climate, hot summers with an average temperature of 26 °C (79 °F). Winter is mild and wet with an average temperature of 9.8 °C (49.6 °F). The average annual rainfall amounts to 800 to 1,300 mm (31.5 to 51.2 inches), but only 12 percent of the total falls in the period June–September. In this area many crops are grown (cereals, industrial crops, vegetables, forages etc.), also citrus and olive trees.
[hide]Climate data for Durrės

Country Albania
County Durrės County
District Durrės District
Regions (Rajone) 6
Founded 627 BC
Government
Mayor Vangjush Dako (PS)[1]
Area
Municipality and City 46.3 km2 (17.9 sq mi)
Elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)[2]
Municipality and City 113,249
Density 2,400/km2 (6,300/sq mi)
Metro 265,330
Time zone Central European Time (UTC+1)
Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 2001-2009
Area code(s) (+355) 52
Vehicle registration DR
 
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