Via Egnatia through Albania - from Durres to Quafe Thane

Via Egnatia through Albania - from Durres to Quafe Thane

From Durres, where you should definitely visit the Archaeological Museum, the Roman Amphitheater and the Byzantine walls (to be followed by separate reports), it is only about 50 km to Pequin to the inner part of Albania.

First go to Kavaje (23 km), then into direction of Pequin to the mighty castle mountain and the mosque. Impressive for us was always the side by side of the different confessions, partly, like in Shkoder, even in the immediate neighborhood.

From here to Elbasan (about 26 kilometers) you will pass through the fertile Shkumbin Valley, pass a small village called Bradashesh, where you will find a well-preserved part of the ancient Roman road following the sign "Ad Quintum". Upon arrival in Elbasan, one of the largest cities in Albania, you will be amazed by the massive remains of the Roman fortress.

Around 1670, Evliya Çelebi, traveling in the service of the Ottoman Sultan, had written a detailed description of the city of Elbasan within his Seyahatnâme (Turkish travel book). He mentioned three entrances to the town, each with double iron gates, and the bazaar behind the southern part of the town now place of a huge cafe with garden. Within the city walls there were 460 one and two storey houses with tiled roofs. The former city wall, up to eleven meters high, was reinforced by 26 regularly arranged towers and towers protruding from the wall. The Ottoman Old Town with its winding path in the center of the modern street map is still be recognizable today and was able to preserve its original oriental character. Unfortunately, only the southern part of the city wall with small side gate remained.

About 100 meters north in the center of the old town you will find the King Mosque (Albanian Xhamia e Mbretit) from 1492, one of the oldest mosques preserved in Albania. It is an inconspicuous, almost square building with a flat wooden roof. Under a white coat of paint, a carefully fixed boxwork is visible. This technique was borrowed from the earlier Christian church buildings. In 1670, Evliya Çelebi, already mentioned, found the mosque on the outside with religious poems painted in the finest calligraphy. The walls were covered in red Arabic writing until the 1960s. There were other 17th-century mosques that were destroyed during the atheism campaign at the end of the 1960s. The King Mosque has survived this time, among other things, as a political meeting place.

 Not far away is the cathedral of the Holy Mary (Catedralja e Shën Merisë), a three-aisled basilica from 1833 with an iconic iconoclase from the middle of the 19th century. The portico on the north and south side make the building even wider.

The hamam (Turkish bathing house) outside the city walls next to the Hotel Scampi already existed at the end of the 17th century, then surrounded by narrow shopping streets, the bath was within the weekly market. It was renovated in the 19th century and was used until the 1940s. Outside in good condition, a description of the interiors is superfluous. It was rebuilt to a restaurant after 1990.

About one kilometer south of the castle you will find the Naziresha Mosque from the 16th century. Destroyed by the communist dictatorship, Namazgjah became the first prayer place in the country.

The Ethnographic Museum (Muzeu Etnografik), housed in an 18th century building, displays traditional Ottoman craftsmanship. The Archaeological Museum (Muzeu Arkeologjik) is located in the south-western corner of the Old Town.

From Elbasan we head to Librazhd, about 27 km away, with the ascent to the mountains, which are steadily steeper. They pass traces of the donkeys on narrow paths, small streams, isolated paths in the green hills, and watch the remains of an Ottoman bridge near Miraka across the river Shkumbin.

After a further 37 kilometers in the direction of Quafe Thane you reach a breathtaking mountain landscape, meet friendly farmers and their packed mules. The road also crosses and passes some ancient bridges, some railway bridges and tunnels. Shortly after Qafe Thane, high up on the pass, you have a wonderful view of the Ohrid Lake and only a few kilometers further the border to Macedonia is reached.

Please read as well:

St. Nicholas in the Church of Myra

From Camping Rino in Kalishta to Elbasan


Life | Outdoors