Saranda Municipality

Saranda is one of the richest ecosystems with double affects on the land and sea regarding development of tourism, thanks to the physical-geographical characteristics of its position. In the southern side is situated the Ksamil Peninsula, with a coastline about 25km long and a 14km 2 surface, as well as Butrint, with a surface of 22 km 2 , two areas with a contrasting relieve and background of rare beauty regarding their natural, ecological and archaeological aspects. In front of them is located the Corfu island. In the course of World War Second, its name turns from Sarande into Porto Edda, in honour of the daughter of Italian fascist leader, Benito Mussolini.

Sarande is situated in South-Western Albania, in the seaside of Ionian Sea, built in the bay under the same name and is about 300km away from capital city, Tirana. It counts a linear stretch of about 3km along the coastline and a width that varies up to 1 km. Sarande city is included in a rare hydrographical circle due to water resources and their peculiarity, including Bistrice River, Kalasa River, who due to drainages are diverted through Cuke Chanel to end up in the Ionian Sea, Pavlla River, Buthrotum Lake, as well as strong springs of Navarica, etc. It is characterized by a typical subtropical Mediterranean climate with a hot and dry summer and cool and humid winter, where the sea calms the climate. The average annual temperature is 16 -18 °C, whereas in the cold months the average temperature marks 8 -10°C. The quantity of sunny days is 270 days or 2583 hours of sun per year, respectively 10-12 hours of sun in the summer months. The water temperature in July-August reaches to 23 -25°C, which begin since the second 10 days of May and end in early November, about 180 days, highest period in the Mediterranean region.

Saranda preserves in its bay thousand year old treasure of an ancient civilization and culture, whose traces are present also nowadays. In the Antiquity is known with the name Ohnesm, based on the Trojan legend according to Vergil, who connects it to the father of Trojan hero, Aeneas. Six mosaics have been preserved until today in different points of Onhesm city and existence of the Aphrodite’s Temple, built by Trojans, is still mentioned.



Konispol Municipality

Konispol Municipality is located in the most southern corner of Albania, about 30km of Sarande Municipality. It is bordered in the south with the state border of Greece, in the east with Finiq municipality and west with the Ionian Sea. One of the tourist attractions of this municipality is the tourist point of Buar, located in a hill covered by pine trees and bushes. From here the eye can catch on the horizon of Ionian Sea in the direction of Cham cities in the south, Corfu island in front of them and along the Stillo hills up to Buthrotum. Pavlla River crosses the entire field of Konispol and falls in the Ionian Sea. From the ethnic aspect, Konispol area has been historically part of the Thesprotia region of Epirus in the Antiquity or today’s Cham territories. The Konispol Municipality is today a precious treasure of full of archaeological, cultural and historic objects of national cultural heritage. This municipality inherits a cave dwelling, one of the most important not only in Albania, but also in the South-eastern Europe. The territory of the municipality includes the ancient city of Cuke of Ajtoi with a surface of about 4 ha, settlement of Sterre coast, monastery of St. Koll dating to XIII century, which is situated on a hill of Pavell River. In Konispol today stand also 7 old dwellings, cultural monuments, in the Shehat neighbourhood. Part of the territory of Konispol Municipality are also some objects from the National Park of Buthrotum, such as Triangle Castle of Ali Pashe Tepelena at the coast of Vivar Channel and castle of Ali Pashe Tepelena in the delta of Vivar Chanel, dwelling of Diapor in the south-eastern coast of Buthrotum Lake and Roman ruins near Vivar Channel. Visitors can also see the Monastery of St. Ilias, St. Theodhor, Cave of St. Marina, etc. The coastline goes along the hills to Cape of Stillo, which is used by animal farmers of Konispol as a pasture. The municipality has developed the animal farming sector, favoured also by the thousand-year old tradition of ancient inhabitants Thesprotia, whose heirs are the inhabitants of today’s Chameria and Konispol Municipality. Agriculture sector is also developed, especially the agro-culture aspect. Inhabitants also continue the old tradition of handcraft work and other branches of economy, such as bee growing. The vicinity with famous antiquity centres in the zone, especially the presence of National Park of Buthrotum in its territory is another opportunity for development of cultural, rural and balneary tourism .

Konispol Municipality includes also Xarre village which consists of the warmest area in Albania. The general annual radiance quantity is estimated at 2189 kw/m 2 , whereas the average annual sun reflection per hour in the course of 1956- 1980 period was 2696 kw/m 2 . This is a typical subtropical Mediterranean climate – hot and dry summer and cool and humid winter.



Finiq Municipality

Finiq Municipality is stretched in a mountainous territory, where are noted the ranges of southern mountainous region, such as Shtugara Mountain and Shendenik Mountain, about 2000m above the sea. Nearby are located the massive forest areas of Dhrovjan, Malina, etc. In

the Dhiver and Cerkovine villages are situated the monasteries of St. Koll declared Monuments of Culture protected by the state. Bistrice River passes almost the entire territory of the municipality. Among the tourist mountainous areas is Dhrovjan, located in a tectonic whole about 400-500 m about the sea level. Regarding the cultural, historical and art assets of the territory of this municipality, visitors can enjoy the Monasteries of Mesopotamia and St Mary in Kostar village, declared Monuments of Culture. We should also highlight the fact that these monasteries have attracted the interest of foreign visitors. The territory of this municipality includes also the Archaeological Park of Phoinike, dating back to V century B.C. The Park is located on a territory of about 50ha on the Phoinike hill and is rich of archaeological monumental values. Under the plane trees of Karahaxh area, near Phoinike, investors are completing a tourist center with sport complexes, luxury bars and restaurants with an excellent service. A special attention is focused on fishing in Ionian Sea blue waters, as well as cultivation of mussels in Buthrotum Lake.



Delvina Municipality

Delvine municipality lies in Southern Albania. It is bordered in the west with Sarande and Himare Municipalities, in the south with the municipality of Livadhja and in the east with the Mali i Gjere range. It is 12 km off Saranda city. Delvine city is considered a developed medieval centre in the trade and handcrafts aspects in the XV-XIX century. Main monuments are Castle of Delvina, Church of Gjin Alex, Rusan, Monastery of Kameno, Monastery of Kostar, Monastery of Kakodhiq, Islamic complex of Delvina, etc. Among the protected areas in the territory of municipality are located the springs of Blue Eye, at 250 m above the sea, declared as a “Monument of Nature” area.

The territory of municipality has an open view of the background toward the Ionian Sea, field of Vurgu, Buthrotum lake, fields of Bushec and Lefka and springs of Oknos of the Blue Eye. The tourist natural activity to be developed is the mountainous, summer and winter tourism. This activity is favourable especially along the Valley of Kalasa River and mountainous area rising in the eastern side of Delvine city. The construction of Kardhiq-Phoinike road would be an impulse for development of the zone.



Selenice Municipality

Selenice Municipality is bordered with the banks of Vjose River in the north east, range of Shashice-Çike in the west and highlands of Kurvelesh and Himare Municipality in the south. The Selenice city is located in the left bank of Vjose River stream about 34km from Vlore city and raises on the hilly zone, including bitumen mine, the only source of this mineral in Albania. Selenice city is mentioned since the Antiquity as a dwelling named “Nympheum”, with eternal fires, due to source of sera mineral. The bitumen mine is mentioned in several chronicles of the time due to its exploration in the Antiquity. Since I century B.C., Plin underlines that : “… there comes out a real black asphalt, which is some kind of a bitumen….”. Geographer Strabon notes: “…There is fine on a hill with small sources of asphalt….” Today´s name of Selenice is mentioned for the first time from the chronicles of XVI.

The territory of Selenice municipality includes the ancient cities of Olympia and Amantia dating back to the V century B.C. We want to highlight Amantia with a fortified acropolis with a perimeter of 2200m. Here we can find the castles of Matohasanaj, Cerje and Hadëraj, mostly with strategic functions. Regarding cultural assets of this city, we mention the church of St. Thanas, whose frescos have been realized from the great painter David Selenicasi, church of Armen, etc.

The economic management of the municipality is focused on agricultural and animal farming. The presence of archaeological and cultural heritages centers in the territory of the municipality has created the opportunity for development of rural and cultural tourism. Realization of infrastructure project for the road that will cross Shushica valley to Ionian Sea will give a new impulse to economic development of the area.



Vlora Municipality

The typical dialect, culture and traditions easily distinguish Vlora people from the rest of Alabamians, who are famous also for their hot temper, humour and good taste. The inhabitants of this region are hospitable, communicative, and warm with a pure spiritual world. Maybe, the nature has established as nowhere else equilibrium between the mountain, sea and green areas, directly influencing the character of its people. Vlore city is located in the center of Vlore bay, which is 19km. long and 16km. wide. It starts in the north with the cape of Triport and ends in the west with the cape of Gjuheza in Karaburun.

Between two capes is located the Sazan island, which looks as a welcome presents, and has recently become a preferred destination for tourists, due to its enigmatic history. From the land, it is surrounded by high rocky mountains really narrowing the field coast zone. In the south of the bay is the Dukat field, which borders the mountains, sea and lagoon of Pashaliman (Orikum).

The land in the west of the bay is bordered by the sea, whereas the north and east is surrounded by the range of Shashica hills, which in the north meet the lagoon of Narta. Vlore city has a very favourable geographical position which goes directly to the sea with a natural protection from mountainous range. It has a favourable position due to location in the middle of land, sea and air roads, inside and outside the country. Vlore city is 147km off the capital city, Tirana and 72km from Italy (Otranto Channel) and 77 miles from Corfu Island, Greece. Conditions for sailing and harbouring in Vlore bay are very good. The Bay easily communicates with centres of other Albanian regions, because since antiquity a series of important transport roads used to pass here.

Vlore is well-known for numerous nature resources, rich biodiversity and ecological corridors. In the eastern part of the Bay, in front of Uje i Ftohte is located the Vlore harbour. A yacht port, with a capacity of 600 yachts, is built here hoping to generate incomes from tourism. Vlore is called Aulona in antiquity and is mentioned in the writings of ancient historians. In the centre of the city stands a high bronze massive part of a 17m high sculptural complex, inaugurated on 28 November 1972 on the occasion of 60th anniversary of Independence of the Albanian State. A combination of these historical, archaeological and natural values with wonderful beaches and sea in the vicinity of the clean coast with a great climate, including the opportunity for construction of tourist centers, where will be concentrated such activities such as water sports or fishing that will turn into a great potential for tourist and entertainment development.

Vlore city has a rich natural potential for development of agriculture and animal farming guarantying a perspective for this sector. Incentives for these sectors are the direct needs of the population as well as boosting of tourism, especially in the coastal areas. Entire Vlore coastline has a climate with maritime winds that ease the heat of the summer. Vlore city has a very favourable climate for cultivation of all types of agriculture cultures (vineyards, citrus, olive yard, agrarian cultures, etc).

Establishment of olive-culture covers a bigger specific weight in the entire country, together with citrus and vineyard.



Himare Municipality

Himare Municipality lies along the coastline of Ionian Sea, starting from Llogora in the north up to Nivice village, near Saranda.

Himare Municipality lies along the coastline of Ionian Sea, starting from Llogora in the north up to Nivice village, near Saranda. It is 50 km off Sarande city and 70 km away from Vlore city. In the north, east and south-east, territory of the municipality is surrounded by Acroceraunian Mountains with its highest point – Cika peak, about  2045m above the sea level. Toward the continental space, with the new administrative division, the municipality includes a part of Laberia, near Kuc village.

Himare is one of the Albanian regions that together with Mirdite and Sule areas, near Ionian shores, have never been in the hands of any foreign invaders, in the course of entire history. Himare city and its 2400 year old castle is a symbol of resistance in the Laberia region.

Along the western slopes of Cika, we go down to Ionian sea, several bursting rivers have created in their delta in the course of thousands of years numerous beaches of different types. Main bays in this area are Spile, Panorm (Porto-Palermo), Borsh, etc, while most important beaches are Palase, Gjilek, Jaliskar, Gjipe. Dhërmi, Jalë, Vuno, Livadh, Spile, Potam, Llaman in Himare, Qeparo beach, Borsh beach – about 5km long, Bunec beach, Lukove beach, Kroreza beach and Kakome beach.

The people - the history

Available documents indicate that Himarë has been inhabited by a native Albanian population continuously since the early Middle Ages. The population of this area has been called Allvani, Albanezi, or Arnaut, by successive Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman rulers. In the medieval period, men from the Himarë province migrated westward offering their services in both manual labor and their combat skills at the service of European kingdoms. Albanian migrants fought as hired mercenaries for the Kingdom of Naples and in the French armies of Napoleon.

The people & Economic Activity

The population of Himarë has historically been farmers, with olive cultivation and olive oil processing being the most common agricultural activities. Himariots have longtraded olive products as exports with the Ionian Islands of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Lefkada, as well as Albanian territories. Apart from olives, Himara also produces a great deal of citrus. Today, Himarë livelihoods have shifted toward tourism. Numerous residents have started small businesses catering to both domestic and international tourists. These businesses cluster near the sea, where a number of resorts and tourist hotels have been built, significantly helping the region’s economic transformation. Traditional Himariot cuisine features meat prominently, with fish being relatively uncommon. Spit-roasted lamb and goat is an ancient tradition of these areas. Savory pies known as byrek, eaten throughout the day, are folded with a wide variety of fillings: cabbage, pepper and tomato, spinach, or cheese. Another traditional food is kukurreci: lamb, beef, or goat wrapped in cattle entrails and roasted over an open fire. All the villages of Himarë (the village being the capital of the municipality) preserve a tradition of dolli—toasting with raki or wine in hand.

The people - Culture and tradition

Residents of Himarë differ in their folk costumes from those of residents of the surrounding provinces. The traditional Himariot dress for men consists of the white kilt (known as fustanella), which hangs to the knee, a white wide-sleeved shirt with a colorful vest crafted with gold thread, and a black bustina hat. One of the most identifiable cultural elements  maintained by residents of Himarë is its unique form of song. The population sings multipart folk songs, categorized as a part of UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” in 2005. Iso-polyphonic singing, as it is called, consists of a minimum of four voices singing unique parts simultaneously, which combined, form a single “voice.” The polyphonic song of Himara is also often accompanied by a wind instrument called the dyare, which is visible in works of ancient art. The musician Neço Muka (Himarjoti) composed music for the lyric singer and artist Tefta Tashko-Koço, who together with Koço Çakali recorded two songs for the first time on gramophone records for Radio Paris in 1934. Another poet who highly influenced the appreciation for the Himara polyphony is Lefter Cipa, from Pilur, Himara.

The roots - the history

In antiquity, Himarë was called Kimera, or Himera, and was the capital of the region and of a population known as the Chaonians. This tribe has been mentioned in documents dating to as early as the fifth century BCE, and later by a series of ancient Greek and Roman authors, such as Thucydides, Titus Livius, Strabo, and Pliny. Himara’s famous harbor in antiquity, as Strabo mentions, was “Panormou,” or the present day Porto Palermo. The ancient Greek historian Thucydides considered the population of Chaonia to be a “barbaric population”— that is, not Greek. The Chaonian tribe became more established in the fourth century BCE, when together with Thesprotia and Molossia they established the “Molossian League” or the League of Epirus. Under the domination of King Pyrrhus, Chaonia become one of the most important powers of this alliance, and the league became one of the greatest military powers of the ancient world, approaching and threatening Rome itself in its military campaigns. In the fifteenth century, as Balkan territories fell one after another under Ottoman conquest, Himarë and the  surrounding province resisted fiercely, though eventually it too fell. Even after the Ottoman conquest in 1417, the population of the province appears in the chronicles in a state of constant rebellion. In 1473 and into the beginning of the sixteenth century, John Vlasi (Gjon Vlash) led the Himariots in a joint offensive with John Castriota (Gjergj Kastrioti) to an unexpected victory, which remains a milestone in the annals of the history of this area.

The setting - Urban fabric and architecture

Of the ancient buildings that exist in the entire outhern region, the Himarë Castle is the most grand. The fortification is perched atop a 140-meter-high hill, and afforded natural protection from the northeast and southeast precipice. Ancient traces of an eighthcentury BCE wall is what has defines the line of the current form. These ancient walls are combined with trapezoidal outcroppings, which surround the hill from the northeast to the northwest, leaving the precipice that rises above the Visha River unfortified. In the middle of the old city stands the surrounding walls of the medieval castle, the foundations of which are the remnants of an earlier castle. The entire extension of the city began there and spread over the centuries well beyond the walls of the medieval  fortress. Since the fall of communism, the town has extended its perimeter to the south along the coast, ignoring the traditional urban structure and building multistory buildings by the seaside.

The setting – architecture

There are a great number of preserved medieval buildings in the city of Himarë, but the fabric is mainly composed of dwellings built at the end of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This generation of buildings used stone and mortar as raw materials, with wooden floors and ceilings. The majority of houses take advantage of the hilly terrain by creating by small gardens walled in by dry-stack stone. In the old city center, houses located within the surrounding walls of the castle are very densely packed, and the streets are narrow and generally paved with cobblestone. Notable houses in Himarë are the dwellings of Llazar and Goro families. The other notable architectural monuments of Himarë are churches, which appear inside the castle walls as well as in outside quarters and suburbs of Himarë. Churches carry architectural and historical values, and some of them date back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Himara visualizations of 19th century

Important visualizations of the Himarë region occurred in the nineteenth century. Traveling diplomats, missionaries, and artists, influenced by the ideas of the European Enlightenment, came through the territories of southern Albania, documenting what they saw along the way. This wave of foreign travelers produced its first maps. There are a series of paintings, engravings, watercolors, and sketches, which address the characteristic subjects of landscape, costumes,  and the area populations of the time. Among the prominent artist travelers are the Britons Cartright, Richard Caton Woodville, and the painter Edward Lear. Lear undertook two long trips in the province of Himarë, the first in 1848 and again in Apart from his travel diaries—in which he marked in great detail his contacts, conversations, and the characteristics of places he visited—Lear drew a large number of landscapes of Himara and its  surrounding environments in watercolor, almost all of which are stored in the archives of Harvard University. The paintings of Edward Lear, stored in the archives