We will visit Antigonea, Church of Labova of the Cross, Libohova, Melan, Glina, Peshkepi Church, Hadrianopolis, enjoying the history and the wonderful nature of Gjirokastra
Day 1 Arriving from Tirana to Gjirokastra, aprox 12:30.
After we have tasted a coffee at Gjirokastra old town and consume the lunch, and we will head towards the Antigonea National Park. Here we will spend aprox 4 hours, learning about history of this archaeological site. Antigonea is an ancient city built in the 3rd century BC. Its ruins are located in Albania 14 kilometers from the city of Gjirokastra. The foundation of the city is linked to one of the most famous names of antiquity, King Pirro of Epirus. At the beginning of the third century King Pirro was forced to go to war in Egypt, where his skills attracted the attention of Berenice, the wife of King Ptolemy of Egypt, who offered him the hand of his daughter, Antigonea. As a sign of respect to his first mother-in-law and first wife, Pirro decided to build a new town named Antigonea. According to ancient Greek historian, Plutarch, Antigoni was the city that was born from love and destroyed by hatred.
When we finish with the visits we will to a guesthouse located near there to taste some traditional desserts and feel the real Albanian hospitality and traditions. After that we will head to Gjirokaster where we will consume the dinner in one of the restaurants of the town.
This day will be a little bit overloaded on the program because we will have a lot to see. We will take one of our 4WD cars and ride through villages and mountains. Our first stop will be the village of Labova of Cross which has one of the most oldest churches in Balkan’s.
The Church of Labova of Cross
The Church of Labova of Cross is one of the most unique monuments of Orthodox religion for our country and one of the oldest churches in the Balkan Peninsula (VI cent.). Historical testimonies mention the fact that it was built in honor of Konstandin laboviti, a distinguished swordsman and one of the most trusted people of the Justinian Emperor. The Latin emperor built it to him this church as a reward for his contribution to the wars. Five years after the construction, one of the trusted people of Emperor Justinian, donated a 4 kg cross to church, which had almost 600 grams of gold.
After visiting the Church we will go on the next village of Labove. Here we will have the chance to see another orthodox church and from there we will hike for aprox 2 hours to visit the ruins of the pelagic castle of Labova. After our visit in Labova we will head towards the city of Libohova.
Libohova is a city with historical and cultural values except that magnificent fortress built by Ali Pasha, this city has contributed to Albanian history with patriots that are born in it. Some of the most attractive are the castle of Shashisha (Ali Pasha’s Sister) , the house of Myfit Bej Libohova, the monumental tree in the center etc. Here we will also consume the lunch.
From here we started to drive on the mountain ranges. From here the Drino valley and the cities and towns around take will give you spectacular views. We head to one of the most important centers of the bektashi religion, the masjid of Melan.
Masjid of Melan it has been declared a first category monument in 2017. Except a quiet place that gives only peace and relax, there is a lot of history intertwined since the time of Byzantine emperor Justinian and later in the following of the Roman Empire of that Ottoman Empire. It stands today as one of the largest objects of the Bektashi religion.
Our journey will continue towards the village of Glina which is famous for the special water sources. Some people say it’s the second water in Balkan’s in terms of curative values and minerals.
From Glina will continue towards the church of Dormition of Theotokos located in Peshkepi and from there we will drive trough the hills and the river to take the Kakavie-Gjirokaster National road that will lead us to Hadrianopolis.
The ancient Ancient Theater of Adrianopolis is located 14 km from the city of Gjirokastra, very close to the Gjirokastër – Kakavijë highway. It was discovered during the First World War by Austrian archaeologist Prashniker. The theater is open in most of it and has a capacity of 4000 spectators, is equipped with 27 stairs, 4 entrances and a two-story staircase. The building was built in the mid-century. II p.K.
This is the end of our visits in Gjirokaster and we will drive towards Tirana.