Durres is tourist center and coastal town and the largest port in Albania, located in the west coast of Albania along the Adriatic Sea, only 39 km from Tirana and 30 km from Tirana International Airport. Durres is nearly joined to the Albanian capital by a ceaseless urban corridor full of hotels, hypermarkets and car dealership. The city of Durres has a population of 100.000, but this number is doubled/multiplied during the summer season when the city attracts many holidaymakers and families visiting the local beaches, and visitors from holiday homes. The Adriatic sea here is perfect for a family holiday, as the water is warm and the sea is fairly shallow. The broad and kilometers long sandy beaches of Durres are popular with tourists.

Durres is one of the oldest towns in Europe and was known by variety of names during its turbulent history /Epidamnos, Dyrrhachion, Dyrr(h)achium, Drač, Draç, Durazzo/. Durres was founded as Epidamnos in 627 BC by ancient Greek colonists from Corcyra and Corinth around a natural rocky harbor which was surrounded by inland swamps and high cliffs on the seaward side, making the city very difficult to attack from either land or sea. Epidamnos was seized by an Illyrian King Glaukias in 312 BC with the help of the locals. Queen Teuta attacked the city in 229 BC but withdraw when Romans arrived and included Epidamnos into their protectorate. Dyrrachium was established as the capital of Epirus nova, the Illyris proper or Illyria Graeca – a province of the Roman Empire founded by Emperor Diocletian (244-311) during his restructuring of provincial boundaries, to become an archbishopric in 449. In the late-antique period, a series of large-scale works were carried out here in Durres including the construction of basilicas, villas, the round forum or macellum, the chapel in the amphitheater, the sewer system, etc. As per historical records, the town of Dyrrachium as the center of the Roman province of Epirus Nova during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (527-565) included several towns within its territories : Amantia (Ploča), Apolonija (Apoloni), Aulon (Valona, Vlora, Aulona), Bulis (Byllis, Hekali), Dioklecijanopolis (Kostur, Kastoriju), Lychnidos (Ohrid), Scampa (Elbasan, Elbasani) and Pulcheriopolis (Antipatra, Berat, Belegrad). During the next centuries Romans and Illyrians were fighting for Epidamnos. Throughout the Roman administration and rule it was named Dyrrachium and was very prosperous settlement on the western end of the Via Egnatia Roman trading road that covered total distance of about 1120 km and connected Rome and Byzantium /Constantinople/. The Roman Emperor Caesar August made the city a colony for veterans of his legions proclaiming it a free town /civitas libera/.

After a powerful earthquake Durres was restored and became the strongest fortifications of the western Balkans. It was controlled by barbarian Ostrogoths and Bulgarians to be taken by Byzantines in the 9th century. It was passing from hands of Normans into the reign of Republic of Venice and Charles of Anjou. After devastating earthquake in 1273 Dyrrachium came into the rule of the Serbian Tzar Stefan Dusan in 1336 and passed into the hands of the Albanian family of Thopias after death of Tzar Dušan in 1355. Venice Republic regained its control over the town in 1392 known as Durazzo in those years, as part of the Albania Veneta. The prominent Serb feudal lords and military leaders of Leka /Lekë Dukagjini, 1410 – 1481/and Pavle Dukadjini /who ruled in Lezhe and Zadrima areas/ at the end of the 14th century recognized the Turkish rule over Duress. The town of Durres fought against the siege of Sultan Mehmet II in 1466 but in 1501 fell to Ottoman control and rule. During the Turkish conquest many towns and settlements were destroyed, when its population was massacred or taken to slavery. So was it in Albania. Population escaped from fertile flat areas to the mountains or to the territories governed by the Venetian Republic. There was mass exodus to Italy, especially to the southern Italy. Part of population converted to Islam and so provided peaceful life.

Although it was quite early a Christian city which raised to the status of Archbishopric in 449 and the seat of the Greek Orthodox metropolitan Bishop, under Turkish rule many inhabitants of Durrës converted to Islam and many mosques were erected. The city that was renamed as Draç did not prosper under the Ottomans and its importance declined greatly. By the mid-19th century, its population was said to have been only about 1,000 people living in some 200 households. It was a sanjak center in Iskodra vilayet before 1912 /Shkodër Province of Ottoman Empire/ to be captured by Serbs during the First Balkan War.

Durres was part of Kingdom of Serbia since the First Balkan War until March 1914 when it was added to the newly established so-called Albania by the pressure of Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Total of five administrative counties were taken away – five counties from Serbia – Trnava /Tirana/, Durres, Belosin /Elbasan/ and Gorica /Korča/, and 1 county from Kingdom of Montenegro – Skadar, and 1 county from Greece – Valona where in 1912 the so-called Albania was proclaimed, and aslo Saranda. Until April 1913 the informal border between Serbia and Greece led along the valley of the Vojusha river – Albanian Vjosa.

Durres was very active city in the Albanian national liberation movement. During the First World War, on 29 November 1912 the units of the Third Army of Kingdom of Serbia, under command of general Bozidar Boza Jankovic entered the city of Durres. Population of Durres delightfully greeted the liberators, with the Durres Bishop father Jovan as the organizer of soldiers welcome. The civilian rule was established within next days with the Durres county foundation under leadership of Ivan Ivanic and Petar Djuraskovic as mayor. Great powers threatened Serbia with the new war unless she does not withdraw her forces out from Durres, which was accomplished in 1913. Durres was occupied by Italy during the First World War in 1915 and by Austria-Hungary in 1916-1918 and by Allies in October 1918. During the Second World War, between 1939 – 1943, Albania was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and in 1944 occupied by Nazi Germany. Albanian sovereignty was regained after the Secoond World War and the communist regime of Enver Hoxa had rapidly rebuilt the town, establishing a variety of heavy industries in the area and expanding the port. Following the collapse of communist rule in 1990, Durrës became the focus of mass emigrations from Albania, mostly to Italy. Durres is the most important seaport in Albania. Nowadays the city of Durres is well known for the nearby Durres Beach resort, its wonderful sand and warm sea water and hundreds of hotels, apartments, bars, cafes and restaurants.

Durres sites of interest : The Roman Amphitheater – the largest amphitheater in the Balkans /discovered in 1966, nominated for UNESCO Heritage site/, the remains of a 15 km long aqueduct built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, the Roman Baths, the Byzantine Forum, The Palace of the former King Zog, the Estrada Theater, the puppet theater and the philharmonic orchestra, the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and Museum of History, sandy beaches of “Plazh-Durres” that are considered among the most beautiful in Albania. The neighboring district of Durres produces wine and a variety of foodstuffs.

Durrës is home to the largest archaeological museum in Albania – the Durrës Archaeological Museum located near the beach. North of the Archaeological Museum in Durres are the 6th-century Byzantine walls constructed after the Visigoth invasion of 481. The bulk of the Archaeological Museum Durres consists of artifacts found in the nearby ancient site of Dyrrhachium and includes an extensive collection from the Illyrian, Ancient Greek, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Items of major note include Roman funeral steles and stone sarcophagi, an elliptical colorful mosaic measuring 17 by 10 feet, referred to as The Beauty of Durrës, and a collection of miniature busts of Venus, testament to the time when Durrës was a centre of worship of the goddess.