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

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

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

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

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

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

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