The eradication of Dyrrachium: Past or Future?!

A brief introduction

Nowadays, Durres is a known city and seaport in Western Balkans, fulfilled with history and tourism. But, since its foundation, it had changes in urban planimetry. The past earthquakes, such as the last one happened on 26 November 2019, convinced some people to not live in big apartments, that were built above the ruins of endangered monuments and places where it was prohibited to construct.

Archeologists, civil engineers and historians have been debating about the changes of urbanistic plan of Durres. In consonance with the old references, they say that it is safe to construct and to develop the urbanization of the city. However, this impact is not accepted by a little part of researchers and some inhabitants of Durres. According to them, they say that the the future urbanization of Durres will endanger the lost monuments of the city, the vegetation in the hills of Durres and “the Old Town”.

Durres, 2022. Photo by Gerhard Mema, 3 January 2022

Durres beach and the hills of Durres

As in the photos above, after 100 years, there has been a huge change. Firstly, it happened in the periphery of Durres, such as in the zone of marshes and mainly, Durres beach. Before, it used to be the main lungs of the city, with a lot of trees and pristine air. Today, the zone from Dajlani Bridge to Golem is fulfilled with apartments, constructed without criteria after 1990’s, by damaging the main clarion place of Durres.

The hills of Durres (Currila, Dautaj, Kallm, Kokomanis and Pitoka), Spitalla and the northern part of the city seen from the King Zog’s villa hill (the hill of Moisiu). Photo by Gerhard Mema, 3 January 2022

Futhermore, the change of city planning happened in the hills (from the hill of Moisii until Porto Romano). Before 1990’s, it was risky to construct there for two reasons: firstly, they contain sand and clay, and there was huge vegetation; secondly, since 1970’s, there were discovered some ancient graveyards, dedicated to the Greek gods (such as the necropolis of Artemis located in the hills of Dautaj).

After 1990’s, the migration of people from different counties, caused the privatization of certain properties. Nowadays, two hills of the city (King Zog’s villa or Moisii hill and Currila-Kallmi hills) are openly accessed.

Venetian Tower of Durres, before (2010’s era)
Venetian Tower of Durres, after (end of 2010’s era and the beginning of 2020’s era). Photo by Gerhard Mema, May 2020

The question of Veliera

Thirdly, changes happened with the square near the Venetian tower (nowadays is known as Veliera or archeological zone A). After 2016, the square was destroyed with no criteria. People who were interested in Archeology and History, protested to the Administrative Court of Durres about this massacre.

They declare that two archeological monuments were located there, such as the ruins of Hellenic walls and the Ottoman cannons. After 5 years, the case is closed, but the battle to protect the ruins of Dyrrachium is not finished yet.


In conclusion, Durres has had a growth in urban development. The question of the beach, marshes, hills, and Veliera has been an interesting and debatable topic for the city planners and researchers.

A map of Durres (1943). First Edition, Published by War Office, US Army, Washington DC, US. 1943
A map of Durres (2022). Edited by Gerhard Mema, 13 February 2022.

Academics and researchers hope their works will stop the urban massacre of Durres. Its monuments are endangered to be shattered forever in the future. Dyrrachium deserves to have an archeological park, a dream never realized from Vangjel Toçi, the father of the archeology in Durres, and a huge discovery of “the Old Town”. More research and people’s contribution are needed to stop the urban massacre.


Photo on the head: Durres in 1918. Original belongs to Albanian archives. Wikimedia Commons, 1918.

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