Walking around beautiful Butrint National Park in Albania
The ancient city of Butrint (otherwise known as Buthrotum in the time on antiquity) was once one of the finest and most beautiful in all of the Roman Empire, and it is still a city that captivates people 2,400 years later.
Located in the southwest of Albania, it is approximately 30 minutes from the city of Saranda (there are a number of local buses to Butrint or you can hitchhike, which is what I did). Also, it is very close to the Greek border (it’s actually the place where Jeremy Clarkson et al caught the little man-made wooden ferry transporting their cars over to Greece in the Albanian Top Gear episode).
Today, Butrint is a national park, a UNSECO World Heritage Site, and a Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance (quite the trio of titles) that attracts visitors from all over the world, and with reason; it is absolutely stunning. With a picturesque lagoon and mountains surrounding Butrint, it is worth coming here for the views alone.
It costs 500-700 lek to get in (approximately €3.5-5), and you can easily spend a few hours walking around beautiful Butrint National Park.
Butrint is a microcosm of Mediterranean history, and it has seen the rise and fall of a number of great empires who have dominated the region, each one developing the city in their own way and adding their own imprint.
There are so many layers to Butrint, and the more you walk around the more you peel back a new layer, delving deeper and deeper into the history of the area.
What you see today is an amalgam of monuments representing a span of over two thousand years of history from the 4th century Hellenistic period to the Ottoman defences created in the early 19th century.
With the rise of the Roman Empire, Butrint expanded to become a flourishing Mediterranean city. Monuments like the theatre give it a Roman aspect, and after Julius Caesar and Augustus founded a colony here the city was extended via a bridge and aqueduct across the channel and onto the plain, causing commerce to boom.
Over the centuries that followed the fortunes of Butrint rise and fell much like the empires surrounding it, but during the 13th century Butrint thrived again. A castle was built on the acropolis and its fortification walls were repaired again.
By the 19th century, Butrint had become a small fishing village clustered around the castle, though today it probably sees more people walk through its walls than 100 years ago.
When you are walking in beauty such as Butrint, I suggest you take a packed lunch with you, sit in the ancient theatre or by the church, and take it all in. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Also, there aren’t many places you can buy lunch, so taking one with you is a win-win situation.
After seeing a fair few ancient Roman cities around the world, I can honestly say Butrint is one the best I’ve ever come across, and it is just another amazing reason to visit Albania.
To sway you and show you the beauty of the area, here is my photo essay of Butrint National Park: