Durrës Amphitheatre

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Durrës Amphitheatre
Amfiteatri i Durrësit
Amfiteatr rzymski w Durrës 1.jpg
Durrës Amphitheatre is located in Albania
Durrës Amphitheatre
Shown within Albania
Location Durrës, Durrës County, Albania
Region Illyria
Coordinates 41°18′44″N 19°26′42″E / 41.312222°N 19.444867°E / 41.312222; 19.444867
Type Roman amphitheatre
Height 20
Founded 2nd century AD
Periods Roman Empire
Site notes
Excavation dates 1900s, 1960s
Condition ruined
Public access yes (admission fee)
A paleochristian mosaic in the chapel

The Durrës Amphitheatre (Albanian: Amfiteatri i Durrësit) is a large Roman amphitheatre in the city of Durrës, Albania. Built in the 2nd century AD during Roman Emperor Trajan's rule, it is located in the centre of the city and is only half unearthed. The Durrës Amphitheatre is one of the largest amphitheatres in the Balkan peninsula,[1] once having a capacity of 20,000 people, and has no analogs in Albania.[2] It was discovered in the late 1900s and today has become a popular tourist attraction. Durrës Amphitheatre is a World Heritage candidate.[3]


The amphitheatre was built in the beginning of 2nd century AD. The city of Durrës, ancient Epidamnos or Dyrrachion/Dyrrachium, was the first city in Adriatic Sea, founded in 627 BC. The amphitheatre was used for performances until the 4th century AD. The earthquake of 345/346 perhaps damaged the monument and closed the 'ludii gladiatorii'. The Early Christian Chapel was adapted on the amphitheatre in the second half of IVth century. Chapel was decorated with frescoes. Later on, in VIth century, was laid out with mosaics.[2] Another Medieval Chapel was adapted in XIIIth century, decorated with frescoes. Amphitheater was covered in XVIth century, after the Ottoman occupation, when the Wall was build nearby. Marin Barleti describes the monument '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 the 2004 the University of Parma started restoration work to save the monument.[2]


The amphitheatre has an elliptical shape with the 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 slope of the hill, and inside the amphitheatre there are staircases and galleries at different levels. The chapel with mosaics is preserved.[2]

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.[4] Thus, development pressures threaten the long-term preservation of the site. The municipality of Durrës is now planning to remove the houses.

There are structural deficiencies, and mosaics and paintings are slowly decaying.[2]

In 2013, the amphiteatre was shortlisted along with thirteen other sites by Europa Nostra as one of the most endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe.[5]

Panorama of Durrës Amphitheatre

See also[edit]

An outer view of the Amphitheater of Durrës.

External links[edit]


Miraj, L. Dyrrachium in the Early Christian and Byzantine Period (Tiranë 2013). Miraj, L. ‘The Chapel in the Amphitheater of Dyrrachium and its Mosaics’, Antichità AltoAdriatiche-LIII (Trieste 2003) 245-291. Miraj, L. ‘The Earliest Coinage of Epidamnos/Dyrrachion as a Source’, Greek Influence along the East Adriatic Coast, Proceedings of the International Conference held in Split, September 24-26, 1998 (Split 2002) 435-470. Miraj, L. ‘Adaptime ne amfiteater gjate shekujve VI-XII’, Monumentet, (1991/1-2) 47-60. Miraj, L.‘Rezultate të gërmimeve arkeologjike në amfiteatrin e Durrësit’, Iliria, (1991/1-2) 276-278. Miraj, L.‘Mbishkrime për ndërtimet e Dyrrahut’, Iliria, (1991/1-2) 249-259. Miraj, L.‘Rezultate të germimeve arkeologjike në amfiteatër dhe termat romake, Durrës’, Iliria, (1990/2) 258-259. Miraj, L.‘Raport nga germimet arkeologjike ne amfiteatrin e Durresit’, Iliria, (1989/2) 286-288. Miraj, L.‘Gërmime të reja në amfiteatrin e Durrësit’, Iliria, (1988/2) 264-265. Miraj, L.‘Raport mbi gërmimet arkeologjike në amfiteatrin e Durrësit’, Iliria, (1987/2) 248-249. Miraj, L.‘Amfiteatri i Durrësit’, Iliria, (1986/2) 151-171. Miraj, L.‘Rreth Fortifikimeve para Bizantine të Dyrrahut’, Akte të Konferencës Arkeologjike rreth Durrësit (1983) 6-11. Miraj, L.‘Disa të dhena rreth amfiteatrit të Durrësit’, Durrësi, (1983/1) 21-29. -->