Seven Night Tour: Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

Albania & Macedonia
  • Code: AL-CL-001

    Summary

    This is tour is for exclusive to the people booking it - you will not be joining a larger party. The prices quoted are for a couple or single person. Please contact us for further price information for larger groups.

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 1: Tirana

    Once you have landed at Tirana airport, you will be met by a representative and transferred to Tirana. Tirana is a cross between Istanbul and Naples with a pinch of Minsk. It is the capital city and the biggest city in Albania offering a wide range of activities as well as plenty of museums and monuments to explore. The main square of the city 'Skanderbeg Square' and the main Boulevard 'The martyrs of the Nations' is where you will find most of the museums, buildings and monuments of Tirana. In the main square you will find The National Historic Museum with its beautiful facade of a large mosaic called 'Albania'. Here you will also see the statue of Skanderbeg, the Et'hem beg mosque, the Palace of Culture (where The Opera and Ballet House is located, as well as the National Library). Along the main boulevard you will be able to admire The Catholic Church of St. Paul that was completed in 2001, The orthodox Cathedral, The late medieval bridge of Tabakeve, the remains of the old fortress of Tirana and many different houses all built in Ottoman style.

    Other sites of interest include: The Parliament Buildings, The academy of Sciences, The Gallery of Figurative Arts, The Palace of Congress, The Presidential Residence, The monument of Mother Albania that stands 12 meters high, and was inaugurated by the Heroes of the Nation cemetery in 1971 and finally The International Cultural Centre that was constructed in 1988 to be the museum of the ex-communist dictator Enver Hoxha and commonly called by the people 'The Pyramid' owing to the strange and curious shape of the building. After you have checked into the Rogner Hotel, you will then be taken for dinner in a local restaurant to sample some traditional cuisine.

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 2: Tirana - Berat - Apollonia - Vlora

    After breakfast you will drive to Berat for a city tour that will include the lower quarters and the upper fortress passing the Ottoman Liac architectures, the Byzantine churches and elegant mosques along the way. Berat is also known as 'The Town of a Thousand Windows' due to the many large windows that decorate the houses of the old town. The town is still renowned for its historic architecture and particular beauty and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Historical Berat consists of three quarters; The quarters of Gorica and Mangalem are situated on the slopes of the two hills that are divided by the river Osum, and The Kalaja (fortress) quarter stands on the top of the Magalemi Hill and is enclosed by a fortification wall that dates back to the IV century BC. The town has several XV century mosques that are beautifully decorated and also many Byzantine Orthodox Churches, several of which have frescoes done by the well-known painter Onufri. Of particular interest are the Icons Museum that is located in the church of the Castle and the Ethnographic Museum located in an old house in the Mangalem quarter. You will be taken for lunch in a traditional restaurant, and after lunch you will drive to the ancient site of Apollonia which was founded in 588 BC, and then onto Vlora. The ancient city of Apollonia of Illyria was founded at the beginning of the VII century BC. Appolonia became an emporium of merchandising between the Greeks and Illrians and was used by Aristotle as a model in his analysis of oligarchy due to the distinct and separate Greek and Illyrian communities. It was a vital stronghold in Caesar's civil war with Pompey and was also important in early Christian history as the resident bishop attended the councils of Ephesus and Chalkis in 431 and 451. Sites of interest include; The fortification wall of the city, The Prytaneon, The bouleterion, The big and small Stoas, The Odeion, The Theatre and The Nympheum.

    Vlora is the second largest port city of Albania and the most economical and cultural city of southwest Albania. It is the city where the Albanian Declaration of Independance was proclaimed on November 28th 1912. The city was for a short time the capital of Albania. Founded as an ancient Greek colony in the 6th century BC by the name of Aulon and continuously inhabited for about 26 centurues. Dinner and over night in New York Hotel, Vlora

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 3: Vlore - Butrint - Sarande

    Today you will set off towards Butrint driving along the Albanian Riviera. You will head towards the Llogara Pass, the highest point at 1025m above sea level where you will be able to photograph breathtaking views. The Llogaraja National park takes its name from the passage with the same name and is over 1000 meters in height and extends along the road from the city of Vlora towards the south of the country. This impressive panoramic Ionian road was built by Mussolini in the 30s. The park is characterized by the wild and untouched nature where the peaks of the 'Malet Vetetimes' or 'The Mountains of the Lighting's' are often surrounded by clouds. The views from the park are breathtaking, especially on the side where the hills fall abruptly into the sea below.

    The Albanian Ionian Riviera is dubbed by some as 'the last secret of Europe' and boasts stunning Mediterranean beaches. It is the stretch of coastline between Vlore and Sarande in south-west Albania. The Ionian coast here is very rugged, with rocky coves along a narrow coastal strip and steep mountains. The sea along this part of the coast has clear blue waters and beautiful beaches made of small pebbles and fine sand. Along the way you will stop at 'The Gulf of Porto Palermo' where you will be able to visit the Fortress of Ali Pasha Tepelena positioned on a beautiful island. From here you will proceed to Saranda which is situated on a beautiful horseshoe bay between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. After lunch you will then proceed to Butrint for more sightseeing followed by dinner and overnight in Hotel Butrinti, Saranda.

    The name Saranda derives from an early Christian monastery dedicated to Agioi Saranta (fourty Saints). Located opposite the Greek island of Corfu, Saranda is one of the most attractive tourist towns on the Albanian Riviera, where honeymooners traditionally spend their honeymoons.

    Butrint is a National Park that includes a very well preserved archaeological area with a lake that is connected to the Ionian Sea via a natural channel. The wetlands around the lake are shelter for different animals and aquatic species in danger of extinction. During the VI century the city was equipped with new buildings such as a theatre, the agora, the small temple and the stoa. The complex of the sanctuary of Asclepius forms the most magnificent part of the city from the Roman Times when the city was proclaimed a Roman Colony and used by the Roman aristocracy as a holiday destination.

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 4: Sarande - Gjirokaster

    First stop at the "Blue Eye" spring - declared a Monument of nature. From here you will drive towards 'Labova eKryqit' church (Labova of the Cross). This church is one of the most interesting monuments in Albania dedicated to Santa Maria. You will then be taken for lunch in a local restaurant before driving to the ancient city of Antigonea. The Church is one of the oldest in Albania and once contained a relic believed to be part of the true cross of Christ. The building is typical Byzantine with a central dome, with aisles and nave constructed to create the image of the cross. The main entrance is through a narthex added later to the church. There are at least 9 distinct levels of frescoes painted on the surface of the interior walls. The Church, as is seen today can be dated back to the time of Emperor Justinian in the years 527-565. Most impressive is the fact that this is the only Orthodox Church with Baroque elements in its structure.

    Antigonea was a short-lived city of only 150 years. It was founded by one of the most famous personages of the ancient world, King Pyrrhus of Epirus (319-272 BC). At the beginning of the third century BC, Pyrrhus was forced to go fight in Egypt. His skills impressed Berenice, wife of King Ptolemy of Egypt, who decided to offer him marriage to his daughter, Antigona. The Roman consul Aemilius Paulus looted and burned 70 cities in Epirus including Antigonea. The city was never rebuilt.

    Gjirokaster is a UNESCO World Heritage site and known by many as the City of Stone and comprised of hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with distinctive stone roofs, wooden balconies and whitewashed stone walls. Dominated by the sheer flanks of its vast castle, Gjirokastra is a magical city with a turbulent past. From feudal stronghold to Ottoman jewel to Italian colony, the city has known many rulers and has inspired poets, authors and artists. A walk around the network of cobbled streets will transport you back in time. A visit to the vast 13th-century Castle brings the adventurous tales of medieval rulers and communist atrocities alive. From here you will check into your hotel and be taken for dinner in a local restaurant.

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 5: Gjirokaster - Permet - Korce

    After breakfast you will drive towards Permet, through the Kelcyra gorge that was created by the river Vjosa running between the Trebeshine and Dhembel mountains creating spectacular canyons all the way to Permet, famous for the its sweets called 'Gliko' and flowers. From Permet you will journey through spectacular valleys to arrive in Korca. You will visit Erseka which is the highest city above sea level in the Balkans, and a small town located in the west of the gramoz mountain's valley right near the Greek border. The city of Permet, lies along the river Vjosa from which, the valley takes its name. Permet District lies in the heart of Vjosa valley and is surrounded by amazing mountains with stunning Flora and Fauna with several places of natural interest such as Bredhi and the thermal sulfuric water in langarica valley which forms natural pools. There are also many historical monuments such as churches, monasteries and archeological ruins from the ottoman invasion. Korca is known as the center of culture and arts. The first Albanian language school opened here in 1887 and a French Lyceum opened in Korca in 1917 following independence. The city has served as a very important trading market and caravans travelled from here to Greece, Turkey, and Russia. Korca today exhibits eastern characteristics, along with traces of French influence in its urban scheme and grand architectural planning.

    Once you are here you will be able to visit the Orthodox Cathedral, the Old Bazaar and the Museum of Medieval Arts. Dinner will be in a local restaurant and overnight in Life Gallery Hotel.

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 6: Korce - Ohrid (Macedonia) - Tirane

    After breakfast you will proceed to Ohrid where you will have lunch in a local restaurant before continuing onto Tirana. You will be able to visit the Monastery of Sveti naum29km south of Ohrid. The grounds are patrolled by peacocks and contain the source of lake Ohrid's water. The beautiful 17th Century Church o Sveti Naum rises on a hill above the lake and is surrounded by the buildings of the hotel Sveti Naum which has taken over the historic monastery complex. The original church of the Holy Archangels was built in 900 by St Naum, and the saint himself was buried here. The monastery grounds also offer a view of the Albanian town on Pogradec.

    Ohrid is a UNESCO protected site known as Lychnidos in ancient times. You will have the opportunity to visit the Hellenistic theatre transformed in an amphitheatre by the Romans and visit the city with its Byzantine architecture. Among the monuments to visit are the Cathedral of St. Sofia and other pearls of the byzantine period such as the icon collection that is considered to be the most important of the Balkans.

    On route to Tirana you will be following the footsteps of Via Egnatia and will stop briefly at Elbasan and ancient Skampa to visit the cohort fortress before checking into your hotel and having dinner in a local restaurant.

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 7: Tirane - Shkoder - Kruje - Tirane

    After breakfast you will drive to Shkoder and visit the castle, the museum and the city, after which you will stop for lunch in a local restaurant before continuing onto Kruja. Shkoder is set on the banks of a sparkling lake at the foot of the wild and rugged mountains of High Albania. It was once the largest and most flourishing town in the country and even today it remains the cradle of northern Albanian culture. Its mighty fortress, Rozafa still rises proudly over the Drin and Buna Rivers as a symbol of Shkodra's will to survive. Shkodra is was a hybrid town with a half-Catholic, half-Muslim population but it was western-oriented and had very close ties with Italy.

    Kruja survived for thousands of years and nearly disappeared at the beginning of the 20th Century, but over the last 50 years it has been brought back to life as a tourist attraction alongside a panoramic mountainside location. The citadel includes the restored house of the Pasha of Kruja, dating back to the ottoman period and hosts the Ethnographic Museum.

    Dinner and overnight in Rogner Hotel, Tirana

    Cultural Landscapes of Albania & Macedonia

    Day 8: Tirane - Durres - London

    After breakfast you will set off to the city of Durres where, you will visit the ancient city walls, the Roman amphitheatre and the byzantine forum of the city.

    Durres is the main port and the second biggest city in the country. Some important archeological monuments that testify the glorious past of the city during different periods of history are: The ancient city walls, the roman amphitheatre and baths, the byzantine forum, the Venetian tower and the ottoman hammam. The Italian buildings constructed in between WWI and WWII that now hosts the Municipality are also a must see as is the Cultural centre with the Aleksander Moisiu Theater, the main Library and the philharmonic orchestra.

    From here you will be taken to the airport to meet your flight to London.

    Prices

    Please contact us for more information quoting

    code: AL-CL-001

    Total for two people (excludes international flights): 2,762.00 GBP (B&B)

    3,150.00 GBP (Full Board)

    Total Includes:

    7 night accommodation in 3*, 4* & 5* Hotels

    Professional tour guide and driver

    Fully equipped FWD vehicle

    Fuel costs & Entrance fees

    Information material (maps & brochures)

    Tax and VAT

    Full board includes: 13 four course meals including drinks (wine)

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