Virgil claimed that Butrint was the home of the Trojans who escaped the fall of their city. It’s not hard to picture the Trojans living here during the cities golden age. A beautiful amphitheatre, a huge Basilica (the largest after the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul), and a Roman temple lined with intricate mosaics.
Whether the Trojans lived here, or more likely, the Greeks, there is no doubt that this is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric ruins in the region.
The Ancient City of Butrint
It’s hard to believe that most people have not heard of Butrint. It is one of our favourite UNESCO world heritage sights, and probably the most beautiful set of ruins we have seen. Considering that we had visited Greece prior to visiting Albania… that is saying a lot I think.
Getting to Butrint
Butrint is located near the seaside town of Sarande on the coast of Albania. The ancient city is surrounded by a marshy lake, which is probably half the reason the city was eventually abandoned. If you are planning to visit Butrint, it is probably best to base yourself in one of the coastal towns around Sarande. We visited in winter so decided to skip the beach towns and stayed in Gjirokaster. Due to the conditions of the roads, it was a bit of an epic trek, and next time we will definitely opt to stay somewhere closer.
What to do and see in Butrint
The ruins of Butrint are comprised of structures dating from the Bronz age up until the 19th century, Several structures are still standing, including Venetian castles, parts of the city walls, a theatre, part of the Basilica, and several others. The ruins are surrounded by woodland which is ringed by Lake Butrint. It was one of the most tranquil and beautiful natural setting for an ancient city.
When you enter the National Park you will be given a leaflet with a path to follow which will take you past all of the major monuments and structures. You will start at the Roman forum and the beautiful sunken theatre and work your way through the site until you end at the top of the hill at the well preserved Venetian castle.
Butrint was our favourite place in Albania, and was well worth the visit, despite the epic journey getting there from Berat.