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Vlore

Vlorë (Albanian: Vlorë or Vlora;) is the second largest port city of Albania, after Durrës, with a population of about 85,000 (2003 estimate).
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Situation
It is located in southwestern Albania, in the District of Vlorë and County of Vlorë at 40°28′N 19°29′E.

Vlorë shoeline Aviona occupies an eminence near the Gulf of Avlona, an inlet of the facing the Adriatic Sea, almost surrounded by mounains. The port is the best on the Albanian coast, and the nearest to Italy. It is protected by the island of Saseno, the ancient ;aso, and by Cape Glossa, the northernmost headland of the Croceraunian mountains.

The town is about 11/2 m. from the sea, and has rather a pleasant appearance cith its minarets and its palace, surrounded with gardens and olive-groves. Valonia, a material largely used by tanners, is the pericarp of an acorn obtained in the neighboring oakvoods, and derives its name from Valona.

Vlore History
Vlorë is one of the oldest cities of Albania. It was founded in the 6th century BC as a Greek colony named Aulōn, one of three such colonies on the coast of Illyria, mentioned for the first time by Ptolemy (Geographia, III, xii, 2). Other geographical documents, such as Peutinger's "Tabula" and the "Synecdemus" of Hierocles, also mention it. The city was an important port of the Roman Empire, when it was part of Epirus Nova.

It became an episcopal see in the 5th century. Among the known bishops are Nazarius, in 458, and Soter, in 553 (Farlati, "Illyricum sacrum", VII, 397-401). The diocese at that time belonged to the Patriarchate of Rome. In 733 it was annexed, with all eastern Illyricum, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and yet it is not mentioned in any "Notitiae episcopatuum" of that Church. The bishopric had probably been suppressed, for, though the Bulgarians had been in possession of this country for some time, Aulon is not mentioned in the "Notitiae episcopatuum" of the Patriarchate of Achrida.

Vlore Valona played a central role in the conflicts between the Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Byzantine Empire during the 11th and 12th centuries. During the Latin domination a Latin see was established, and Eubel (Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I, 124) mentions several of its bishops. Several of the Latin bishops mentioned by Le Quien (Oriens christianus, III, 855-8), and whom Eubel (op. cit., I, 541) mentions under the See of Valanea in Syria, belong either to Aulon in Greece (now Salona) or to Aulon in Albania (Valona).

Serbia captured Valona, or Vlora, as it was also called, in 1345 and it passed to the Ottoman Empire in 1464; and after being in Venetian possession in 1690, was restored to the Turks in 1691. , becoming a caza of the sandjak of Berat in the vilayet (province) of Janina. The city, which has a port on the Adriatic, has about 10,000 inhabitants; there was a Catholic parish, which belongs to the Archdiocese of Durazzo; it persisted nominally as a Titular see, suffragan of Dyrrachium, also in Epirus Nova.

Vlore In 1851 it suffered severely from an earthquake.

Ismail Qemali declared Albania's independence in Vlorë on November 28th, 1912, during the First Balkan War. The city became Albania's first capital but was invaded by Italy in 1914 and occupied until 1920. Italy again invaded Vlorë in 1939, following which Nazi Germany occupied the city until 1944.

Independence of Albania During World War II, the island of Sazan in Vlorë Bay became the site of a German and Italian submarine base and naval installations; these were heavily bombed by the Allies. After the war, the Soviet Union made use of the rebuilt installations to provide a Soviet naval base on the Adriatic, from which it withdrew following a breakdown of relations between the two countries in 1961.

Under communism the port was leased to the Soviet Union as a submarine base, and played an Important part in the conflict between Enver Hoxha and Khrushchev in 1960-1961, as the Soviet Union had made considerable investments in the naval facilities here and objected strongly to the loss of them as a consequence of Albania denouncing the USSR as 'revisionist' and taking the Chinese side in the split in the world communist movement. The Soviet Union threatened to occupy Vlora with Soviet troops in April 1961, and cut off all Soviet economic, military and technical aid to Albania. The threat was not carried out, as a result of the simultaneous development of the Cuban missiles crisis, but Hoxha realized how vulnerable Albania was, and, after the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, he built the tens of thousands of ubiquitous concrete bunkers that still litter the entire Albanian landscape. Under Hoxha Vlora was an important recruiting centre for the Sigurimi, the secret police.

In 1997, Vlorë was the center of popular riots after the collapse of several fraudulent investment schemes that led to the downfall of the Sali Berisha administration, and almost precipitated the country into a civil war.

Vlore Economy
Vlorë remains a major seaport and commercial centre, with a significant fishing and industrial sector. The surrounding region produces petroleum, natural gas, bitumen and salt. The city is also the location of important installations of the Albanian Navy.

Vlora has grown in importance as an agricultural centre with very large-scale planting of olive and fruit trees, and as a centre of the food processing, oil and bitumen export industries. ra

The surrounding district is mainly agricultural and pastoral, producing oats, maize, otton, olive oil, cattle, sheep, skins, hides and butter. These commodities are exported.

Vlore Tourism has become a major industry in recent years, with many hotels, recreational centers, and vast beaches.It is a pleasant place to relax, to have a coffee and admire the beautiful view over the Bay of Vlora

Geography
It is a rare city in the world that can have a position that is as conveniently and geostrategically located as Vlore; which is connected with its immediate entrances to the sea and to the west and at the base of a string of mountains in the east.

The western vanguard of the city is the island of Sazan and the peninsula of Karaburun with which Vlore keeps “the key” to the strait of Otranto. Vlore is an ancient city and the southernmost port of the Adriatic. Over 124,000 people live in Vlore. The bay of Vlore is shallow where the depth goes to five meters after one meter from the coast line and ten meters past two kilometers from the coast line. Vlore is in a favored position at the crossroads of the entire region’s water, air, and land, roads.

The distance from the country’s capital, Tirana, is 135 Kilometers, while it is only 72 km. from Italy and 77 miles from Greece. Vlora’s position guarantees a large circulation of local and foreign tourists, who favor the city because of its magnificent beauty.

Vlore The bay of Vlore is distinguished for its many natural resources, for its pure biodiversity, and ecological corridor. Its is one of the areas with the largest tourism potentials in the area, connected directly with entrances to the sea, with lots of clean nature, climate, water, archeology, history, culture and people and businesses.

The city of Vlore stretches along Uji te Ftohte (the area known as Cold Waters) to the region of Zvernec. The level on which rises the City of Vlore is from 6 until 76 six meters from sea level and represents a continental base level.

Meanwhile the general length of the coastal line is 90 kilometers from the mouth of the river Vjosa until Karaburun, which is declared from the Council of Ministers a zone with advancement for tourism development.

Actually, the city of Vlore continues to widen all the way especially strait to the coastline of the city, particularly until Uji te Ftohtes and Jonufre.

The geo-morphological conditions between Narte and Plazhi i Vjeter (The old beach) do not allow quick advancement of the city strait to the coast. This indicates the existence of marsh sectors as well as centers of a weak base of earth.
Vlore Knowledge of the natural laws of the development of the coastal zone and the provoked changes from the interference of people who comprise today among the main problems for protecting and exploiting their rations.

The History of Vlora
In ancient history Vlore was called Aulona. It was noted by many travelers and foreign chroniclers, as one of the main port cities of the southern Illyrian region, which flourished, in importance only behind Apolonia and Orikum. “The name of Vlores is one of the least well know geographic names of the eastern coast of the Adiatic that has remained since the ancient times. The city is on par with Durres, Shokdra, Lesha, and Ulqin, as one of the most important and ancient cities of Albania. These places would not have survived had not they been continuously occupied through the centuries. A good part of the population of these provinces have since their Albanian settlement, been able to resist the process of Romanization and enslavement, in which a large part of the Balkans peninsula took part in.” notes a study by Professor Shaban Demiraj.

Vlore According to archeological remains seen on the Vlore coast, in previous years Vlore was marked by noteworthy prehistoric residences, cultural and economic developments, and characteristic cities and urban centers. Like the “Caves of Velça,” “The Cave Writings of Lepenice” (a rarity in the greater Balkans) “The Cave of Spile” (in Himara) “The Mosaics of Mavrova” or “The Pitosa of Mallkeq” the Vlore region has numerous sites that showcase the independence and the continuation of the culture of the Illyrians through the bronze and iron ages. Other known ancient residences are the city castles of Amantia, Olympia, Kanina, Himara, Cerja, Armeni, Haderaj, Triport and Vlora (Aulona) itself.

Amantia was founded in the fifth century BCE and is one of the smaller southern Illyrian cities, is over 1000 years old and has many old mountain buildings and ancient antique stadiums built with large stone blacks. South of the city of Vlore is found the city of Orikum, which is the most ancient port on the coast of Vlore, and was founded as a residential area in the fourth to fifth century BCE. Orikum then became a fortified port, and an important Adriatic military base. In the second and first centuries BCE it was an important sea side work site, for building and repairing ships, favored by proximity to the pine forests of Llogara and the greenhouses of Selenica. In the second century BCE Orikum was destroyed by a powerful earthquake and lost its importance, having not gotten permission to rebuild. It was during this particular time in the bay of Vlore that another wharf city, “Aulona”, the Vlore of today first made an appearance in history. The ancient archeological symbol of Vlore is “The Girl of Aulona” a sculpture of a nymph 87 cm and carved by local masters with the limetones of Kanina that symbolize the grave clothes of the Illyrians.

Vlore The name of the city - Wharf of Aulona first is noted in the second century BCE by the authors Lukan and the geographer Ptolemy. These facts are confirmed by the archeological evidences of a castle, and a large port that may have existed at the mouth of the river and at the lagoon of Narta. During these times, the port of Aulona must have moved, it appears that the commercial aspect of the port moved to JL and Kanina, became the administrative center of the military in the fourth century CE. In the fifth and the sixth centuries Vlore received an orthodox bishop who was dependant on the metropolis of Durres, but his presence in Aulona explains why the city became a more important place of residence. The past few years have lead to the discovery of the surrounding protecting wall and fortification in the center of Vlore as well as the discovery of some new existing archeological remains near the train station.

The last archeological excavations in Kanina and Himara have given other evidence for the continuity of Illyrian culture through late antiquity and the middle ages.. In the sixth century CE and continuing in the middle ages, Aulona was mentioned in a list of important port coastal cities, with developed naval facilities that exported olive oil, salt, timber, olives, and the emerging markets of Aulona mirrored those through out the rest of Europe. In the neck of the river Vjosa, emerged the port of Spinarce, where trade developed as well as consular trade with Raguza and Venice, etc.

Vlore Medieval Vlore and its region fell under the Norman occupation of 1081, falling under Venetian occupation in 1205 and later under the domination of the Hohenstaufen Germans. During the reign of the Arberesh Kingdom after 1272 Vlore served as a center of cultural development, and as noted in several concurrent chronicles, there was a flowering of crafts, trade, husbandry and forestry.

The Arianit Family has played large role in the political, military and society of Vlore, most notably in the 11 th Century with the first of the Arianitas, Komnen Golemi Topise, until the 15 th and 16 th centuries. A noted individual of the 15 th century was Gjergj Arianiti, who organized the resistance against the Ottoman regimes in 1431-1432, in the mountains of valleys of Laberia. According to legend Gjergj Arianit was revered through out Europe. He allied himself with the Albanian hero Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbej, when Skenderbej married his daughter Donika, though Arianit remained independent in the South and middle of Albania. In the assembly of Lezha, on March 2, 1444, to face the dangers of the Ottoman occupation, Gjregj Arianiti stood by the Albanian rulers in their national campaign.

Vlore In the 15 th and 16 th centuries the ottoman regime turned the Vlore into an important Adriatic Port. In a Turkish census in the year 1520 there was listed 701 local families and 531 Jewish families. This is evidence for a peaceful and tolerant climate, at a time when elsewhere Jews faced savage persecution. Thus the city was host to 6300 – 6500 residences. Vlore was the base for the Ottoman attacks against the southern Italians in 1480, against the Himara insurgents in 1492 and served as a base for the Sultan Sulejmani against Corfu in 1537. And in this year was built the castle of the city, where today is located the Flamurtari stadium, and whose stones were taken from the castle of Jangeci in Zvernec and from the surrounding walls of Aulona.

In the 17 th and 18 th Centuries Vlora was on of the most important harbors of southern Albania, behind Preveza, because her bay protected boats from storms. In the port of Vlore was built a large depot for the storage of agricultural products and village goods which found there way there all the way from Berat, Gjirokaster and Myzeqe. In their exports, the city developed trade with Trieste, Venice, Vienna, Corfu, Istanbul, Izmir, Brescia, Bari, Manastir, Ioanina and Malta. In the port of Vlora, regularly entered, every week the Austrian Ship “Lloyd” and the Italian “ Puglia” which have done in the year 1904, respectively, 224 and 181 entrance and exits. Vlora exported 20000 barrels of olive oil, 11000 loads of olives, 1.5 million kilograms of salt, and 15000 units of wool, and 20000 pieces of leather, as well as a myriad of other agricultural products from around the region.

Vlore One desired article was the flint from the stones of Drashovice that were prepared either as blocks or as shards. For export, animal furs and caps were the preferred articles for Istrien and Tristien and other alpine places. Vlore manufactured olives that were more ancient than those made in Italy and France was distinguished by their high production quality, and their oils. In the year 1900 Vlore was registered with over 100,000 olive trees

Through out the centuries Vlora has been known as an important patriotic heart of Albania, and the struggles for freedom, independence and prosperity have been in the spirit of every Vloniat. Vlore was the site of many wars against foreign occupations and struggles to spread Albanian education and was home to many patriotic societies. In the years 1908-1912 the club “Laberia” made a burning hearth for the struggle for independence and against the Young Turks. The head of this club was Ismail Qemali who opened an Albanian School in the neighborhood of Muradie (August 7 th 1908) and which marked an important occasion in the educational life of Vlore. But the most important incident in the city of Vlora was the one that happened on the 28 th of November 1912, when the sage and diplomatic old man, Ismail Qemali, together with other Albanian delegates from around the country, declared the independence of Albania and at the same time raised the national flag in Vlore. Thus Vlore became the first capital city in independent Albania.

Vlore In the 25 th of December 1914 Vlore was conquered by the Italians. After the expansion of the Italian occupation, there grew a resistance to their rule. In the year 1920, after the Congress of Lushnja, there was created the National Protection” Committee, headed by Osman Haxhiu, which organized war forces in the War of Vlore. The war of Vlore is one of epic glories of Albanians. Vlora was the “Thermopoli” according to Halim Xhelo. In the years 1920 – 1924 Vlore was included in the process of democratization of local people. Here was created the Federation “Atdheu” (1921) and the branch of the society “Bashkimi” (1922). A large role in these years was played by the magazines “Politics”, “National Protection” “Free words” “National Hope” etc, which were published in Vlore. In the Second World War, Vlore was made one of the most important bases for the National Anti Fascist Movement against the Nazi occupation. It kept a heavy load in the war and its contribution is well noted.

Offerings of the Museums of Vlore
In the city of Vlore, there are located three functioning museums. Each one explores different characteristics of the regional history. The Museum of National Independence, The Museum of Historic Relics (or History Museum) and the Ethnographic Museum are placed in three buildings in different places in the city. In fact each one of these buildings is special in their own right, prized for their architecture and historical value. During the past few years, these three important destinations have been visited by more than 12000 citizens and foreigners, a large part of whom are Kosovars. They have liked these museums, especially the one which brings to life the story of national independence, where they have been able to explore and relive their shared history.

Vlore - Uji i Ftohte The Museum of National Independence
The Museum of Independence was founded in 1936 and was the first museum in all of Albania. Between the creation of the museum and today, it has collected important objects from both the city of Vlore and the surrounding region. The museum was declared a national museum at its 50 year anniversary. Albania was founded in this building and the museum, with all its contents, attempts to capture one of the most important moments in history for Albanians.

For six months, the museum’s building was where the center of Ismail Qemali’s government of Ismail Qemali, and where was written the declaration of independence. The Museum of National Independence is considered a popular museum. In its two rooms and two corridors are exhibited original objects that reflect the time period, such as important documents and of art, all of which are of national value.. For the first time after many decades, the building of the Museum of Independence was completely rehabilitated in the year 2002, in honor of the 90 th year of the national declaration of independence. With these investments, this object takes another value, and becomes more popular with visitors. The surrounding area visited every day by tens of citizens. It is located in the south of the city of Vlore, near the port.

The Museum of Historic Relics (The History Museum)
Located in the center of the city in a distinctive building, which first served the organs of local government and larger organizations, the Historic Museumwas founded in 1962. Here are exhibited original object which represent and reflect the different historical periods, starting in antiquity and continuing to the present day. In this museum, visitors can see archeological objects that belonged to different ancient cities such as Vlora, Orikum, Amantia Ploçe, Olympia, and Kionina. There are historical and archaeological items of the entire district of Vlore. These include original documents pertaining to the city of Vlore, weapons used in some of the most celebrated wars in Albanian history.

The History Museum has a special corner which reflects the contributions of the people of the area of Vlore who helped with the declaration of independence. Also located here are two pavilions that evoke the 1920 Battle of Vlore as well as the Democratic Movement of July 1924. In this museum are also placed the original coffin in which was found the body of the partiot Avni Rustemit who had remained there after his death, until the coffin’s discovery and his reinternment. The coffin with his body was found accidentally in the mid 1980s, during reconstruction work on the Vlore-Skele Boulevard. During the excavations, where is now located the statue of Avni Rustemit, workers discovered accidentally an underground area with at least two alcoves, in which one of them was found the coffin of Avni Rustemit, preserved in good condition. While he was reinterred nearly in the same place, his coffin was placed in the History Museum. The coffin, made of lead and glass, is hermetically sealed and enshrouded with the national flag and is a national treasure.

Palasa Beach The Ethnographic Museum
It is located in the oldest building in the city, and was build in the middle of the 18 th century. This museum was proclaimed a Monument of Culture. The museum is preferred by the visitors because you can see the unique traditions of Vlore. Displayed in the museum are hundreds of objects of artistic value, commemorating the long tradition of craftsmanship in metal, wood and the wide variety of the area’s traditional clothes. In the year 1908, within the Ethnographic Museum was created a patriotic club “Laberia” and whose honorary chairman was Ismail Qemali, the man who proclaimed Albania’s independence. Also, in 1909 the first school was opened in the Albanian language for the girls who lived in the city, directed by patriot Marigo Posio.


CASTLES

Castle of Gjon Bocari is located in the village of Tragjas and was built in the 16th - 17th centuries. The walls form a rectangle, with a width of 1.25 meters and a height of 5.5 meters.

Himara Castle was fortified by the Kaon tribe and is mentioned in Byzantine documents. It was repaired in the 6th century. Emperor Justinian had the castle rebuilt to defend against the attack of the Barbars, Gots and the Hus.

Kropisht Castle is situated in the place called Llutroi, built in the Roman period. It is composed of stones, 24x2x5cm. The fortress was built in the shape of a square with an area of 250x180meters. For the most part, the widths of the stones were 1.2meters.

Porto Palermo Castle or Ali Pasha Tepelene Castle is near Himara. The width of the stones is 1.6meters. This castle was designed by a French engineer and was constructed in the shape of a pentagon.

Kukum Castle is located in Qeparo, near Palermo, in the region of Vlora. It was built in the 2nd century BC.

Vlora Castle was built in 1531 by Sultan Sulejman to protect Vlora from attack from the army of Venedik. This castle was documented by Dr. Auerbahu in 1847 and was saved in the library archive of Innsbruck.

Kanina Castle was built in the old center of Vlora in the 3rd century BC. This castle has an area of 3625ha. It was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian in the 5th century BC. In Anna Komnenes' notes, she talked long about her father, Emperor Aleks', war against the Norman army.

Movrove Castle is situated in the Shushice valley and was built in the 4th century BC. The walls are built with a limestone blockade


THE HISTORY OF THE FOLKLORIC FESTIVAL
Polyphonic songs are old folk songs unwritten, inherited, and transmitted from one generation to the next. This kind of song is sung by a lead singer who is accompanied by a group composed of 4-6 people. Usually, the songs are sung without musical instruments. Known particularly in the southern region of Albania, they are inspired maybe by a muse that struck the highlanders in moments of quietness, joy or sorrow. Or perhaps by beautiful and savage nature, by the murmuring of the forests and echo of flocks bells or the gurgle of the crystal water of the spring that ran down the peaks of the mountains covered with snow.

GRUPI-I-LAPARDHASE-VLORE The polyphonic songs of Vlora have always expressed the deep spiritual side of the people in this area. They are sung in the most beautiful moments of their lives, and also in the most difficult moments. The lyrics of these songs are generally not translated because they contain spontaneously created poetry. Polyphony is invaluable to the folk life of Albanians and particularly to Vlora which already has her festival.

The First Festival
Organized on the 20th of May, 2001. 17 Folk music groups took part, with around 114 folk artists. This festival did not have a competitive character. Realized by the Cultural Center of Vlore, financial support by the Municipality of VLore.

The Second Festival
Took place from the 24th to the 26th of November 2002, at the beginning of the 90th anniversary of National Independence. This festival was realized with the cooperation of the Cultural Center of Vlore with the National Center of Folk Activities, with financial support by the Municipality of Vlore, and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. Eighteen Folk groups took part. The first prize was won by the Polyphonic Group of Vezhdanish, Vlore.

The Third Festival
Continuation of the festival was affirmed. It took place in the Theatre “Petro Marko” on the 26th and 27th of November 2003. Eighteen folk groups took place with Laberia and Toske polyphony. The first prize was won by the Delvine polyphonic group “Kaonet.” The third festival was organized by the Cultural Center of Vlora, and financially supported by the National Center of Folk Activities and the Municipality of Vlora.

The Fourth Festival
Took place on the 25th and the 26th of November of 2004. Fourteen groups competed to take part while six were invited. The Gjirokaster polyphonic group “Ergjeria” won first place. The festival was held in the ambience of the “Laberia” Palace of Culture, organized by the Cultural Center of Vora and financially supported by the Municipality of Vlora and the National Center of Folk Activities.

The Fifth Festival
Organized through the 14th and the 16th of September 2005, and in time for the end of the summer tourist season of 2005, especially this festival is geographically stretched with participating ground from around Europe, realizing simultaneous concerts at three different points in the city, and the character of the festival, no as one competition between groups, but as one activity declaring the values of rural folk life that is presented. Organized by the Center of Culture of VLora with financing by the Municipality of Vlore and for the first time activities are supported by local businesses.


VLORA – THE SUNNY LAND
Vlora lies in the southwestern region of Albania, at the southern end of the Adriatic Sea and the northern part the Ionian Sea. The Vlora coastline accounts for about 30% of the entire coast of Albania. It is 135km from the capital city, Tirana, separated by only 72km from Italy (Channel of Otranto) and 123km from Greece (the island of Corfu). The surface area of Vlora is 1609km2 and includes 4 cities; Vlora, Selenica, Himara and Orikum.
It has a climate typical of Mediterranean Sea, with mild winters that are generally wet, and summers that are dry.

An Invitation by Municipality of Vlora

Vlora City - Pictures of the History, Archeology, Tradition, Tourism of Vlora. (Click on any picture to enter to ACLIS. Put your mouse over picture to stop browsing the album)

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Vlora has three basic climatic zones:
The coast has moderate temperatures, as the other countries of the Mediterranean, and does not suffer the cold winds like the western side of Albania.
The inland, hilly areas in the region have a cool climate with rains and similar to that of Central Europe with a relatively mild climate. The mountainous region, such as Llogara, possesses a dry continental climate. In winter it can be quite cold (though snow is relatively uncommon) and has fresh, cool air all summer long.

Vlora receives more hours of sunshine per year than any other region of Albania - averaging over 2000 "sunny" hours annually. Vlora has the only peninsula in Albania, which is named Karaburun. It is roughly 16km by 4km in size, and an area of 62km². The peninsula of Karaburun is rich in natural resources (famous for marble), woodlands, and archeological remains. It is also home to a reserve for wild pigs.

The only island in Albania, named Sazan, is located 17km from the port of Vlora and 9km from Triport (Three Gates) in the Vlora region. The highest point of the island is 342m. Sazan has a surface area of 5.7km² and 12km of coast. A rocky cliff breaks the beach.

Vlora, long known for its olive production, at last count had approximately 280,000 olive trees. The olive trademark " Vlonjak" is one of the oldest in Europe and is known for its great oil production.

The territory around Vlora comes from thriving ancient cities such as Amantia-Ploce, Olympe-Mavrova, Orikos-Orikum, Himera-Himare, Kionina-Kanine, Nymfeum-Selenica and Aulona-Vlora.


HISTORY - ANCIENT CIVILIZATION

Amantia (Ploçë) is an ancient city of the Illyrian Empire, located in the district of the historic village of Ploce. It was founded at the end of the 5th century BC. The city was located near the mountains with an area of 15ha². Amantia was a city in the time of the Epirote League in 230BC. After the Roman occupation, they maintained their autonomy and were an important city in the road between Apollonia and Epirit. The Temple of Aphrodite and the stadium of Amantia, with about 3000 seats, were found within the boundaries of the city.

Olympia (Mavrova) is an ancient Illyrian city, mentioned for the first time in documents written by Stefan Bizantini. Olympe minted its own bronze coins in the 4th century BC until the 3rd century BC. Among the archeological discoveries, the most important was a stamp with the name "Olympus". The perimeter of the stone wall surrounding the city had a length of 1300m.

Oriko (Orikum) was a part of the land of the Amantian tribe. The city was built on top of ruins of the ancient Illyrian buildings around the 4th century BC until the 2nd century BC. Amantians minted their coins with the figure of Apollon. The wharf at Orikum served as an important center for the sea and was mentioned in the war between Philip the 5th of Macedonia and Rome in 214 BC. The city served as a war arena between Jul Qezarit and Pompey. In the Middle Ages, Orikum was named Jericho, and was mentioned as an important center and commercial port.

Himera (Himara) lies south of the city of Vlora. It is very ancient and was known as the Illyrian seaside city of Kaonise. It has been known as Himara since the 5th century BC.

Kionina (Kanina) is situated southwest of Vlora at the top of the mountain Shashice. It has been certified as an ancient place since the last millennium BC. Through archeological excavations, it was discovered that Kanina was a fortified city in the 4th century. There was castle inside the walls of the city that was known by the same name.

Aulona is the ancient name of Vlora. It is mentioned by many foreign historians as one of the most important Illyrian port cities in the south. Archeological evidence of an authentic ancient civilization is apparent in a sculpture of a goddess named "Aulona girl". It is 87cm high and was a statue that symbolizes the traditional clothes of Illyrian women. The archeological ruins confirm that the fortress had a strong wall with a length of 40m, height of 7.5m and a thickness of 2m. Aulona was an important commercial and strategic center for development of commerce with other nations.


HOUSES OF WORSHIP

Muradia Mosque was built in the style of the sultans in the second half of the 16th century. The mosque was designed by the Albanian architect Sinani, who was one of the most important designers of mosques in the period of the Ottoman Empire. His most important creation was the Great Mosque "Sulejman" (the Blue Mosque) in Istanbul.

Zvernec Monastery is the most important cultural monument in the area of Narta. One of the reasons to visit the island of Zvernec is to see this monastery. It was built in the 13th century in Byzantine style and was dedicated to Saint Maria. This construction is in the center of the island. Every August 15th, there is an Orthodox celebration to remember the birthday of Saint Maria.


NATIONAL PARK

Llogara
Is one of the most picturesque places on the Albanian Riviera. Pine trees cover the land, but there are many box-wood trees there as well. The 1020 hectare area is covered by lush plant life. It is considered a classic place where a natural equilibrium exists between the world of animals and plants. The well known area of Llogara has a height of 1027 meters. You can find the mineral dolomite in a place called “Gerxhina Mountain”.


ARCHAEOLOGY

Mesaplik Mosaic is a very rare Paleochristian object. This mosaic is from the 7-8th centuries BC, and has a dimension of 11x10meters.

Stone with the Sky monument is situated in the mountain of Lipes in the village of Vranisht. It is a prehistoric monument known in the bronze era 4-9 thousand years ago. As the well known archeologist M. Zeqo said, "it's a gigantic stone that was placed over two other stones by men with their own hands , and this way they created an alter to the Gods.."


CUISINE

Vlora area cuisine is typical of coastal and mountainous areas. The products are taken from dairy animals which are raised in the mountains by the sea. Another important characteristic of the Vlora cuisine is cooking with seafood.

Here are some examples of traditional Albanian dishes:

Byrek is a flaky pastry that is preferred by the people of Vlora to be filled with either field greens or just as a milky pie. The most important ingredients are fresh milk, flour, and field greens.

Grilled meat is characteristic of Vlora, and is found in every restaurant. The nearness of the sea and the quality of pastures give the meat in this area an incomparable taste. Lamb from Karaburun cooked over an open fire is particularly delicious.

Yogurt in Vlora is produced traditionally and is different than the yogurt produced in most of Europe. It is eaten only fresh.

Harapash is similar to porridge and is cooked with corn flour, the intestines of lamb, cheese and butter.

Raki is the traditional alcoholic drink of Albania, but it is especially good in the area of Vlora. The drink is typically grape-based, but you can also find raki made from blackberries and plums.

Another typical dish for Vlora cuisine are plates with seafood, fish, mussels, shrimp, and lobster.


WATER RESOURCE

Vlora is blessed with numerous natural springs because of precipitation and the mountainous landscape. The Vlora region is well known for its fresh and wonderful tasting water.

Rivers
Vjosa River with the length of 76km, it has served as a natural border between Fier (in the north) and Vlora. It was very practical to navigate between the two cities because the river generally passes through fields and flat land.

Shushica River has a length of about 80km and is also known by another name, Vlora River, because it traverses the valley of the same name.

Lagoons:
Vlora has two of the most important lagoons in Albania. They are Narta Lagoon and Pashaliman Lagoon. The lagoons are both connected with the sea by the way of a channel and, as such, are affected by the tides.

Narta Lagoon is situated north of Vlora. It is well-known internationally because of the number of sea birds, which exceeds 48,700. For three species of sea birds, 1% of the total number find refuge here. In winter, more than 23% of the sea birds of Albania live in this area.

Pashaliman Lagoon, although small in size, is known for different kinds of ducks and for winter seabirds that migrate through Albania


CAVES

Cave writings-Lepenice is situated on the mountain and village of the same name, which has a height of 800 meters above sea level. Pictures found in this cave represent post-Paleolithic art, which is known as the oldest in all of Europe. In the cave you find 19 anthropomorphic figures and 8 geometrical pictures.

Velça Caves are part of the culture of the late Neolit culture of the 3rd millennium BC. Professor Marciani took notes about this cave, and speculated that it must have been lived in 1000 years before Christ.

Haxhi Ali Cave in Karaburun is situated on the peninsula. Located in a cliff, it is the biggest cave in Albania at 30 meters long, 10 meters wide and 10-15 meters high.


MINERAL RESOURCES

The Vlora area has more than 20 types of naturally occurring minerals:
Bitumen is found in Selenica, which is one of the oldest known source of Bitumen in the world.
Signs of oil were discovered in the beginning of the 19th Century in Shushice when they drilled the first oil well. This region is rich in building materials, such as lime, clay, and dolomite.

Lime of the Karaburun peninsula was used since ancient times as decorative stones. Also, there are thermal waters near Selenica that are 25-30°C.
Natural bitumen from Selenica was discovered 2000 years ago, and was used to produce war arms by the ancient Illyrian, Greek and Roman civilizations.


Portret- Ismail Bey Qemali

It was time of liberty that started with fightings against all ennemies that had for 5 centery my country occupeid.In the moment of lot of dreams
Ismail Qemali
was one that was shining as a star in the night above all of troubles and figtings.One greteast man came up one exellent idea on 28 November 1912.This was a desire for liberty that started with the uphanging of albanian flag in Vlora city and with the activity of the first independent government on history.Albanian history has in its heart the figure of this clever man that lighted albanian nation with his thoughts that we remember ever and with respect will write in the future.
Ismail Bej Qemali ( 1844 - 1919 ) wasborn in Vlorë , Albania . He was a principalfigure in the Declaration of Independence andthe formation of an independent government of Albania in November 28 , 1912 . This signaled the end of almost 500 years of Ottoman rule in Albania. Together with Isa Boletini and Luigj Gurakuqi , he raised the flag on the balcony of two-story building in Vlorë.He reigned as prince of Albania 1912-1914.


THE OFFICIAL SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, MR. ALFRED MOISIU, IN THE MASS MEETING OF THE 90TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE.

Dear citizens of Vlora,
Honourable Mr. Chairman of the Town’s Hall,
Honourable politicians, diplomats and present guests


Today, our country, Albania, becomes 90 years old. I have the pleasure to be in this well-known square along with you, citizens of patriotic Vlora,
Ismail Bey Qemali raised Albanian Flag to Vlora City
historic Vlora and Vlora of the independence, to commemorate November 28th, the symbol date related to the existence and integration of the Albanian State. In this anniversary, for the first time in 90 years of the Albanian State history, we, Albanians, are gathered together, to bring to an end the times when national days were separated according to political convictions.

November 28th is a day of peace, love, pride and remembrance for all Albanians, wherever they are located. 90 years ago, some of the most distinguished sons of our history, led by the wise mind of the white-haired old man, Ismail Qemali, raised the flag in Vlora and declared the independence. Their patriotic feat provides our history with the most important event and marks the end of a long and dramatic period under Ottoman Empire. This feat makes us bow with reverence today in front of the work of Ismail Qemali, Isa Boletini, Frasheri brothers, Luigj Gurakuqi, Elena Gjika, Aqif Pashe Elbasani, Gjergj Fishta, Mehmet Konica, Ymer Prizreni and other major names of our nation. May the memory of the people, who sacrificed or gave their life for independence, its protection and establishment of democracy in the country, be unforgettable!

Brothers and sisters,

During the last century, we experienced the downfall of Ottoman Empire; the first successful Albanian kingdom; the fascist occupation on the verge of WWII; the liberation war against this occupation; the communist dictatorship for about 50 years, as well as the long and difficult democratic transition. This development demonstrates that no country in the world, Albania included, has had only positive developments. Everything has its own place. Time will show where we acted erroneously and where rightly. Today, it is not important to keep our head back, but to overcome the bitter past and look forward. The future belongs to our children and grandchildren. We should not allow them to curse the work we have done.

On this special day, we are witnesses, actors, producers, losers and winners of a new epoch of changes, which brings transition to an end and opens the way to the consolidation of a new system of urban and European values, as it was aspired 90 years ago by the founders of the Albanian State.
The positive changes in Albania have been associated with very positive changes in Kosovo, Macedonia and Monte Negro where the Albanians have reconfirmed their good will to build a safe, democratic and integrated future for all the citizens. We all feel proud and happy at the course of democratic processes in Kosovo. Their last elections demonstrated that Kosovo has entered the irreversible road of democracy and western values. We think that the solution to Kosovo status is of high importance for the future of the region.

We have supported the stability and integrity of Macedonia and we have encouraged the positive developments, which have led to parliamentary and governmental representation of Albanians. We, likewise, appreciate the fact that the integral implementation of Ohrid Agreement constitutes indispensability and assistance, not only for the further continuation of democratic processes and Albanian-Macedonian co-existence, but also for the stability of the region as a whole.

Along with us, the Independence Day, is celebrated by other half a million Albanians, who for different reasons, mainly economic ones, have been obliged to emigrate these last 10 years to western countries. They represent our banner in the world, our pride and culture, the indivisible part of our national stock. The interest and attention of State as well as the Albanian diplomacy should be an indivisible part of politics.

Likewise, the frequency of contacts, presence, and political and economic integrity of the Albanian Diaspora in all its steps of socio-economic developments of the country, should be part of the main objectives of the Albanian State. Our Diaspora should contribute more to the country where their parents and grandparents rest.

Dear co-citizens,

Anniversaries are not just days of sharing warm embraces, but reflections and engagements, too. We need to use this moment to promote and deepen the process of reforms and democratic rule of law, where life, property, freedom, thought and faith are a valuable, assured and untouchable wealth. The road of reforms we have embarked upon should proceed. The new political climate, based on position-opposition cooperation for the deepening of reforms, Euro-Atlantic integration and removal from the 10 year old conflict-ridden politics, should be enhanced and spread further more.

Our future depends on a lot of things, which we have summed up in one word: home tasks. But the fundamental condition is the assurance of political stability, which is in the interest of the entire society and citizens, rather than of certain individuals. Let us not work behind the scenes, using empty debates and pessimistic hypotheses in order to reach concrete results. Let us return the faith and smile to our people, and the prospect and pride to our nation. The permanent critics should not forget that the greatest minus we have had till now was the lack of political stability, which has resulted first of all due to the political struggle with no principles. Democracy can not proceed amidst wars and struggles, but with alternatives and debates, offering clear visions for the solution of problems and the future of our country.
Our main duty is to understand and materialise the notion of state independence as individual independence respected by law, protection of property, thoughts and ideas as part of free society, movement and action on behalf of the interests of democratic society. The state is legitimate, democracy is secure and the society feels free only if the individual and his ideas are free and assured. Albania has long suffered due to the exclusion of oppositional ideas, persecution of thoughts, discrimination of specific groups of citizens, playing tricks with the property of the other and abuse with the power. Time now requires a new mentality of thought and action, which harmonizes the personal wills of the individuals and specific groups with the wills of the society in its entirety.

Parties and campaigns come and go, the state is and remains one. We need a strong state to the benefit and service of our citizens. The parties are an irreplaceable part of plurality of ideas, but the mission of establishing and strengthening the rule of law stands above all parties. A state of citizens, able to serve to them, is built by brave and untiring citizens. As President, I would like to repeat the promise I made to you on July 24th: I place Albania and its interests above everything else. This is my main constitutional obligation, my will and personal steadfast engagement before my citizens and country. This is why I require from my co-citizens, political and business factor: understanding, obedience to the law and determination to move ahead.

Each one of us should behave, think and act as a good patriot for his country. To be a patriot means to love your country and respect the love of the others for their own country. At our times, a good patriot is the one who respects the law, fights for its freedom and the freedom of the other citizens, pays the taxes and considers himself an important actor of benefits and responsibilities in the society. This message is especially for the political class, the elected and nominated, justice authorities, and authorities of all the other levels of administration. Those who have speculated with the wisdom and nobility of the Albanian people and have gained wealth unjustly should and will face justice. They should finally realise that our small, poor and slow-moving country doesn’t and shouldn’t have time to lose, be it with political experiments or abusing practices on behalf of the state.

In the future days, weeks, months and years great challenges lie in wait for us. Our country has a wide range of problems to solve, in order to have a safe and successful road of reforms. The reforms in the judicial system, economic sphere, electoral system, property issue, Armed Forces, public administration and other important sectors, constitute some of our principal objectives, the fulfilment of which is indispensable for our NATO and EU integration.

I am fully convinced that with work, commitment and honesty, we will successfully proceed in the road we have embarked upon. Let this anniversary be an encouragement to all of us, for more engagement and unity. Let this moment serve to wish you and all our citizens and co-nationals: Happy Independence Day!
May God be with Albanians and Albania!

Classiclady Nov 21 ,2005


Source: Municipality of Vlora & Albanian Canadian League Information Service (ACLIS)