Onchesmos (Saranda) is the name of the ancient town derived from Anchises, the Trojan warrior whose mythological union with the goddess Aphrodite resulted in a son named Aeneas. Aeneas, along with his father and his son, Ascanius, escaped the sacking of Troy, and journeyed throughout the Mediterranean. Dionysos of Halicarnassus calls Onchesmos the Harbor of Anchises, and the Byzantine historian, Procopius, mentions that Anchises died at Onchesmos. During the 6th century CE, the town’s name changed to HagiaSaranda or “Forty Saints”.
Butrint (Bouthrotos) is located on the southwestern coast of Albania. A narrow stretch of sea separates the city from the Greek island of Corfu. The site has been occupied approximately since the 8th century BCE, but legends hint at the city’s foundation by Trojan exiles. By the 4th century BCE, a walled settlement had been established and the city began to develop through the trade. Augustus founded a colony in Butrint and the town remained a relatively small Roman port until the 6th century CE. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the city shrank in population and significance.
Finiq (Phoenice) is located near the modern city of Saranda and is about 20 km north of Butrint Lake and the Albanian border with Greece. During antiquity the territory surrounding the settlement belonged to Chaonia, part of the Epirus kingdom. The site is rich in findings from the Classical to the Byzantine period. Ancient sources mentioned the wealth of the city, especially during the Hellenistic period, between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, when Finiq was a prominent city in the Epirot League.
The Monastery of Saint Mary in Pojan is located within the complex of the Apollonia Archaeological Park. It was built in the 13th century CE. By the end of antiquity, Apollonia was largely depopulated, hosting a small Christian community that built this monastery on a hill, probably the site of the old city. Byzantine Emperor Andronicus Paleologus the Second reconstructed it. The chapel was built in the Byzantine style. The Monastery of Saint Mary is one of the most beautiful structures of this kind in Albania.
The Monastery of Ardenica is located close to the village of Kolonja. It is a Byzantine structure occupying a surface area of about 2,500 m². This monument consists of the Saint Mary Church, the Saint Triad chapel, the konake, the oil mill, the oven and the stall. In the center is situated the Church of St. Mary, partly built with pumice stones brought from Apollonia. It occupies a large area, covered by a wooden roof and a flat ceiling. The church is composed of a naos, a narthex and a two-story exonarex, which at the one end connects with the 24 meter tall bell tower.
Nikaia is located close to the village of Klos , not far from Bylis . It is an ancient city as well. The city features a protective wall that is notable for its length, 1850 meters, dating back to 425 BCE. The use of polygons and trapezoidal blocks for its construction is typical. Three defensive towers guarded the single entrance to the city. Among the most important archaeological finds are a small theater, a stoa and the ruins of a stadium. The theater had a capacity of approximately 900 spectators.
Gurëzeza is located near the modern town of Cakran, dominating the plain of Vjosa and offering visitors a view which extends to the Karaburun peninsula and the island of Sazan in the bay of Vlora. The partially preserved walls cover an expansive area of over 15 hectares. Settlements of the site appear divided into three distinct phases: the Protourban, Urban and Late Antiquity periods. Several important coin hoards were found in the vicinity of this site, one with about 2,000 bronze coins from Apollonia and Epirus.