Amphitheatre of Durrës

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Amphitheatre of Durrës
Amfiteatri i Durrësit
Amphitheatre of Durrës (by Pudelek).JPG
Amphitheatre of Durrës
Amphitheatre of Durrës is located in Albania
Amphitheatre of Durrës
Location in Albania
LocationDurrës, Durrës County  Albania
CoordinatesCoordinates: 41°18′44″N 19°26′42″E / 41.31222°N 19.44500°E / 41.31222; 19.44500
TypeRoman amphitheatre
Length132.4 metres (434 ft)
Width113.2 metres (371 ft)
Height20 metres (66 ft)
Founded2nd century AD
PeriodsRoman Empire
Site notes
Excavation dates1966
Public accessyes (admission fee)

The Amphitheatre of Durrës (Albanian: Amfiteatri i Durrësit; Latin: Amphitheatrum Dyrrhachinum) is a Roman amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Durrës, Albania. Construction began under the emperor Trajan[citation needed] in the 2nd century AD and it was destroyed twice by earthquakes in the 6th and 10th centuries.[1] It is the largest Roman amphitheatre ever built in the Balkan Peninsula, once having a capacity of 20,000 people.[2][3]

The amphitheatre is included on the tentative list of Albanian UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was discovered in late 1966, and has since become a popular tourist attraction.


An Early Christian mosaic in the chapel

The amphitheatre was built in the beginning of the 2nd century AD, and was used for performances until the 4th century AD. The earthquake of 345/346 likely damaged the monument and closed the 'ludii gladiatorii'. An early Christian chapel was constructed on the amphitheatre in the second half of the 4th century. The chapel was initially decorated with frescoes; in the 6th century, mosaics were added.[3] A medieval chapel was built in the 13th century, also decorated with frescoes. The amphitheatre was covered over in the 16th century, after the Ottoman occupation, when a wall was built nearby. Marin Barleti described the monument as 'well constructed'.

About one third of the site was discovered and excavated in the 1960s by Vangjel Toci; the rest was excavated in the 1980s by Lida Miraj. After excavation the amphitheater slowly deteriorated, as no conservation efforts were undertaken prior to the 2000s, and construction continued to take place around the site. In 2004, the University of Parma started restoration work to save the monument.[3]


The amphitheatre has an elliptical shape with axes of 132.4 metres (434 ft) and 113.2 metres (371 ft). The arena is 61.4 metres (201 ft) by 42.2 metres (138 ft) and is 20 metres (66 ft) high. It is built on a sloping hillside, and inside the amphitheatre there are staircases and galleries at different levels. The chapel with mosaics is preserved.[3]

The site currently functions as a museum.


The amphitheatre is surrounded on all sides by the city of Durrës, and a section of the arena itself has been built upon with modern housing.[3] Thus, development pressures threaten the long-term preservation of the site. The municipality of Durrës is now planning to remove the houses.

The amphitheatre has serious structural deficiencies, and its mosaics and paintings are slowly decaying.[3]

In 2013, the amphitheatre was shortlisted along with thirteen other sites by Europa Nostra as one of the most endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dianna M. Porter (May 2001). Your Woman in Skopje: Letters from Macedonia, 1995-1999. Xlibris Corporation, 2001. p. 57. ISBN 9780738865744.
  2. ^ "Life is a Promise in Durrës, Albania". Balkan Travellers. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Karaiskaj, Prof. Dr. Gjerak (2004). "Amphitheatre of Durrës" (PDF). European Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  4. ^ "14 European sites shortlisted for 'The 7 Most endangered programme'". Europa Nostra. Retrieved 20 April 2013.