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home to 31 churches and monasteries and is a favorite summer retreat for many of Tirana’s international community. Park carefully on the roadsides in Dhermi. a basilica with a Byzantine-style wooden and tiled dome with a single nave. with a Byzantine-style dome dating back to the 14 th century. The Archbishop Ioannis of Himara and Delvina commissioned frescos to decorate the .CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES OF DHERMI Dhërmi is a quaint coastal village. and begin the steep 15minute climb from the National Road to Saint Mary Church and P anais Monastery Panais Monastery. serves as the communion area. An old church.

head south – the second village you pass will be the village of Gjipe.5 km south from Dhermi – approx. semi-circular shaped atrium. the screen or wall dividing the sanctuary from the nave in traditional Orthodox and Catholic churches. Part of the descent will be on foot on narrow. Castle of Himara Himara. Gjipe. Admission is free to the monastery. Upon arrival. extreme caution should be exercised when descending or ascending these paths to the beach. The Church of Ipapandia is situated very close to the beach and can be reached via a 5minute drive on secondary roads. 25 minutes on the Vlora-Saranda National Road and dirt roads) From Dhermi.C. which is divided by the narthex. 35 minutes on the Vlora-Saranda National Road) Continuing south along the National Road to the ancient city of Himara. a former Albanian military outpost. Follow signs from the main road to Gjipe beach. The monastery was originally built in the 14th century. positioned prominently on the hill above the city which it once . The narthex features two entrances and a stone iconostas. a beautiful and clean beach hidden inside the narrow neck of Gjipe Canyon.church in 1781. elegant bell tower erected on the western facade. although a small donation for their upkeep is encouraged. Admission is free to both churches. but was not finished until nearly 500 years later in 1860. take advantage of the natural beauty for a roadside picnic or photography on this untouched stretch of Albanian coastline. is home to the Monastery of Saint Theodore Theodore. rocky paths. HIMARA ’S CA STLE AND CHURCHES HIMARA’S CASTLE (13 km south from Gjipe – approx. Another interesting characteristic of the church is the high. MONASTERY OF SAINT THEODORE (Approx. the Church of Ipapandia has a large. with construction funded by contributions from other neighboring monasteries. Exhibiting typical features of the mid-14th century churches on the Albanian coast. one may visit the 5th century B. though a small donation for its upkeep is encouraged.

and visitors should have little . Also known as the Church of All Saints. the castle was occupied until the 16th century A.D. a beautiful coastal town by the Ioanian sea. where most of the town’s hotels and restaurants are located. this former seat of the archbishopric of Himara showcases church walls preserving its multiple phases of construction. and contains a number of houses and churches of the post-Byzantine period.protected. Original construction is thought to have occurred towards the end of the 10 th century. it is advised to park the vehicle in upper Himara. part of them being built on top of earlier walls. Continue on foot to the castle. LUNCH IN THE ANCIENT CITY OF HIMARA Inhabited for thousands of years. Himara was known by the name of Chimera and in the 9th-10th centuries chronicles mention it as an Episcopal center under the Ohrid Archdiocese. Himara’s earliest known occupants were of the Illyrian Chaonians tribe.C. A longtime stronghold of the local population. In the 5th century B. paying attention to the slippery rocks underfoot.. The city’s main earner is tourism. Today Himara is the largest town between Vlora and Saranda. Perhaps the most beautiful church within the walls is the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus Bacchus. Himara castle and its churches charge no admission. Driving south from Gjipe. upon first entering the city as it is closer to the castle. continue on to lower Himara and its beaches. After enjoying this peaceful spot amongst the citrus and olive trees. overlooking Himara and the Ionian Sea.

situated on a hill overlooking the village of Piqeras. Fried potatoes and a variety of salads make for great accompaniments. yet well-maintained restaurant or café to dine in. served family-style with homemade local wines. served either fried (skuqur) or grilled (zgare). The church is a basilica with three naves. or red mullet (barbun). From the narthex there was a direct passage to the residence halls of the monastery. when the church also had some lateral walls damaged. Admission to the church is free and visitors are encouraged to walk carefully on the paths leading to the ruins. It features a cupola poised over a high cylindrical roof at the center of the hall and a two-story narthex on its west wing. These collapsed at the beginning of the 20th century. visitors are encouraged to try the local catch of the day: sea bass (levrek).difficulty in locating a simple. . the inhabitants built supportive walls and therefore avoided the church becoming destroyed entirely. continue south along the National Road towards the Monastery of Kremosova. A 30-minute walk is necessary to reach the church. CHURCH OF SAINT MARY OF VA KREMOSO KREMOSOV (24 km south from Himara – approx. 60 minutes on the Vlora-Saranda National Road) From Himara. snapper (koce). on the left side of the National Road. The Church of Saint Mary of Kremosova dates back to 1672. and is preserved in the center of monastic ruins. As a seaside town. Some time later.

This monastery is situated about 2 km northwest of the Church and Monastery of Saint Mary of Kakome. The frescoes of the church were produced by a painter named Mihal. traveling an additional 20 minutes (7 km) to the monastery. comprised of residential buildings situated in the two corners of the courtyard. The nave is preceded by an arched narthex. Located in the Bay of Kakome. according to a 1672 inscription inside the church. Follow the signs by turning right towards the sea. . The floor plan of the Church of Saint Mary at Krorëz-Nivica resembles a cross with a cupola and is similar to other Byzantine churches found in the area.MONASTERIES OF SAINT MARY (Turn off from National Road is 22 km south of Piqeras – approx. with frescoes painted in 1672. The nave is cross-shaped and the church has a dome-shaped roof. if possible. Admission is free to both churches though a small donation is encouraged for their upkeep. 45 minutes) Before ending your tour in the seaside resort town of Saranda. The roof of the church is covered with stone slabs and the church itself dates to the post Byzantine period. head south from Piqeras until you see signs for Kakome beach. watch the sun set at the highly recommended Church and Monastery of Saint Mary at Kakome Kakome. A visit also to the nearby Church and Monastery of Saint Mary at Krorëz-Nivica is also recommended. This is a fortified monastery. at the front of which is a bell tower. and the church dedicated to Saint Mary in the center.

www. Albania’s southern-most city and a primary entry-point for visitors arriving from the Greek island of Corfu. and stews.tirana-airport.com Car Rental Companies: Sixt. to ancient ruins and peaceful beaches. such as roasted lamb. e-mail: opinion@celesi.bashkiavlore. HERTZ . EuropCar. five miles away. from high-end hotels and dynamic discotheques. For more Information: www. Fresh seafood is abundant. pastry pies (byrek).eu. www. Travelers will find little difficulty locating a place to stay. Saranda has something to offer all visitors.himara.FINE DINING IN THE SEASIDE RESORT TOWN OF SARANDA (12 km south from the Kakome Beach sign – approx. With its lively Mediterranean atmosphere. Influenced by Greek.org.com www.com Celesi Tourist Guides. 15 minutes) Continue on from the monasteries of Saint Mary for dinner and overnight in Saranda. Saranda’s culinary traditions are wellknown amongst Albanians. Italian and Turkish cuisines.com.al. Local wines and homemade brandy (raki) will help finish off any course as visitors to Saranda take advantage of the scenic setting to watch the sun set over nearby Corfu.albaniantourism. www. as well as recipes from the surrounding areas’ pastoral traditions. AVIS.saranda-guide. although rooms may be harder to come by during the summer high season in July and August.

this itinerary offers all visitors a chance to glimpse inside Albania’s Byzantine and postByzantine religious history. and/or vehicle used. From short stops along your journey to those that are well “off the beaten path”. weather.This itinerary will allow travelers to visit a series of churches and monasteries from Albania’s millennia-long history. private transportation is recommended. secondary roads. Public transportation will only provide access to locations on the main Vlora-Saranda National Road. Walking shoes in good condition are also advised. Travelers are advised to travel these segments by daylight if the driver is unfamiliar with these winding. As of January 2008. many of which are decorated with original frescoes from the 17th century. No sites on this itinerary are handicapped accessible. All stops on this itinerary feature well-preserved structures. Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Clean Up Project . the Vlora-Saranda National Road has only been improved as far south as the village of Dhermi. Please note that travel and visitation times are approximate and may vary depending on the season. Travelers should be cautioned that the road is in the process of being improved and road construction may delay their journeys.