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Durres History, Albania

The second biggest city in Albania, Durres is also the country’s most ancient and one of its most significant economic cities. It is found on the coast of central Albania around 30 kilometers from Tirana, the country’s capital. The city’s population is about 114,000 based on the 2003 census. Take note of some facts on Durres History through this guide.

Durres History – Establishment

The very first name of Durres was Epidamnos given by the Greek colonizers and was established as a part of Illyria in 627 BC. The city’s geographical position was an advantage against attacks and invasions. Add to this, the city also had a superior political civilization and even the famous Aristotle praised its politics.

Durres History – Roman and Byzantine Occupation

The king of Illyria, Glaukias, invaded the city in 312 BC but after a century, Epidamnos was given to the Romans when the Illyrians were defeated in a war. The Roman occupants called the city Dyrrachium and made it a chief armed forces and naval headquarters. During the Roman occupation the city prospered, developed, and became connected to other cities of the time. It was declared by Caesar Augustus, a Roman emperor, a free town after the Battle of Actium.

When the city was struck by an earthquake, the city walls were destroyed. Under the command of Anastasius I, a set of stronger walls were erected. During the Period of Migrations, Dyrrachium suffered from barbarian attacks and later fell under the rule of King Theodoric of Ostrogoths.

Durres History – Medieval Period

During the beginning of the 10th century, Simeon the Great of the First Empire of Bulgaria was able to take over the city. The Byzantine Empire, however, was able to regain the city. At the latter part of the 11th century, Normans took control over Dyrrachium but the Byzantine conuered it and lost it again.

In 1202, the city was passed on to the administration of the Venetian Republic. During the Venetian rule, the city’s name was changed to Durazzo.

It was able to deflect the Ottoman invasion for some time but finally succumbed to the empire in 1501. Many of the city’s residents converted to the Islamic religion and as a result, numerous mosques were erected. The city’s name was again changed. This time, the Ottomans called it Dirac. Unfortunately, Dirac was not able to develop and prosper during the Ottoman occupation. The once great Roman city declined to a great extent. The population of the city dropped to about 1,000 and the city aged along with its surroundings.

Durres History – 20th Century

The city of Durres became an active member of the Albanian National Liberation Movement. The city, along with the rest of the country, was liberated from the foreign invaders. Unluckily, the Serbs took over Durres during the 1st Balkan War. For some time, the city became the first capital of Albania.

During World War I the Italian army captured the city and was only returned to Albania by the Allied forces after the war. Durres experienced a relative growth in its economy during the 1920s. The city was integrated in the Italian Kingdom from 1939-1943. Since the Nazis controlled Durres during World War II, the city became prone to Allied bombings.

After the war, the local and national government worked for the development of the city’s industry, commerce and economy. This marked Durres History and made the city one of the most progressive cities in Europe like Dubrovnik in Croatia.

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