Monday, September 29, 2008


At the risk of sounding like just another tour guide, I want to tell you about Byllis. I had heard of it in passing and no one really seemed to rave about it. There's no "Byllis Foundation" like the fund started by British gazillionaires to protect and promote Butrint. There should be. The site is phenomenal.
The first thing you notice about the place is, it's up on top of a hill. Make that a mountain. The views are spectacular, even on a hazy day like this. Stand at the highest point of the site on the ruins of a watchtower and you can see for miles in all directions. The view to the west is dramatic with the Vjosa River winding between the hills 500 meters below.The walls are clearly visible around the entire perimeter. You immediately get the feeling of purpose which drove the inhabitants to create this secure citadel. When I came across the sign explaining the origin and history of the walls, I was amazed to find that almost two-thirds of the city was left outside the walls when they were constructed to guard agains Vandal attacks in the 3rd century. Two-thirds? The one-third inside the walls is almost 8 acres. Imagine what lies under the brush outside the walls.
It's not crowded in the least. On a warm September day I was the only visitor, other than a bridal party who had bounced their way along the road to take photos among the ruins before scooting back to the reception.
The place compares favorably to Butrint because it's dry. You can walk in among the ruins and never have to worry about slipping in the mud.
Imagine watching a performance in this theater. It must have been tough for the performers to compete with the view from the seats out over the valley.

Informative signs posted at all the major ruins clearly describe the purpose of the building, when it was built, and any unique aspects of the construction.

Mosaics. Lots of them. Several were uncovered for visitors to see which beats the heck out of having to buy a guidebook and then imagine what lies under the protective plastic sheeting and sand.

A shopping mall with a view!

Another endless view over the mountains of Mallakaster. .

If you want a second opinion on Byllis, here's a great article.



Islandgirl said...

Hi, just stumbled upon your excellent, humorous blog. My family and I will be moving to Tirana summer of '09 and I love reading about your experience. Who knows, we might even run into each other...... I will do my best to spare you the newcomer's complaints... :)

Tirana Transplant said...

Congratulations on your move to Tirana. I hope you find the place as rewarding, interesting, frustrating, and fascinating as I do. I guarantee you will find things to complain about. We all do. Good luck!

traveler one said...

Wow! That looks spectacular!! I'm going to have to plan a trip!

Islandgirl said...

I'm sure I will be having all these feelings, probably at the same time! Very excited about this adventure!!!

Andrea said...

Looks amazing! I'll definitely try to get there on my next Albanian trip.