Phoinike is located about 8 km inland from the city of Saranda, on the Ionian Sea coast in southern Albania, about 20 km from the Greek border. The territory, which belonged to the Hellenistic period of Kaonism – part of the Epirus kingdom – is rich in archaeological objects dating from the classical to the Byzantine period, in an untouched and characterized landscape, slightly further south from the lake the interior of Vivar, on which the ancient city of Butrinti was located. Numerous proofs of ancient sources (Polibi, Straboni, Tit Livi, Ptolemy, and later Prokopi and Hierokli) speak to us about the great wealth of the city, especially in the Hellenistic period, between the 3rd and 2nd century BCE, when the primary role is known of the city on the epirotic link. Generally speaking in good relations with the Roman Republic (perhaps not taking part in the aid given to several cities in the area of Philip V and then Perseus of Macedonia in the period of collision with Rome), Phoinike organized within its walls the signing of the treaty that ended The First Macedonian War, a treatise known as the “Peace of Phoinics”. The city’s appropriateness persisted even in the imperial period, a period over which archeological documentation has increased much in recent years. During the Byzantine period the city continued its life for almost ten centuries, with a special interest, documented by Justinian Procopi, who supported important urban planning interventions. The Turkish invasion, for which Ugolini found archaeological traces talking about a violent invasion, ended the old town’s history, which later remained a small village at the foot of the acropolis hill, Finiqi, which still exists. Luigi Ugolini’s research findings were quickly summed up in an important monograph published in 1932, a monograph that is still a very important work for the city today. The strong wall enclosure, which Ugolini closely analyzed and whose chronology was fixed at the time, should be traced further to understand the extent and the periods, as the recent studies of Albanian archaeologists have shown.
The islands of Ksamil
The Ksamil Islands are located next to the Ionian coast in Ksamil. For a few minutes from Saranda, you are faced with a stunning view of the gurkali sea, and the small rocky islands with a dense wild vegetation. At an altitude of 7.5 to 15 meters above sea level, these islands are placed next to each other covered with a typically Mediterranean Mediterranean vegetation. It is precisely its islands that make Ksamil so special and desirable. It is a unique and quite representative area of the Albanian rocky Albanian coast. The monument in question is in good shape. In Ksamili islands, the first damages have appeared, because the pressure of tourism in this area is growing, but the worst damage caused a fire as a result of the explosion of a wood structure by INUK with C4 in 2014. Ksamili Islands have scientific, educational, biological, aesthetic, and tourist value. To go to the islands can be used boats or swimming, as the distance from the shore is short.”
“It is located south of the Mesopotamian village, on a small hill between the two Bistrica river beds. It was built at the time of the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomaco (1042-1054). From the monastery are preserved today the ruins of the surrounding walls that reach a territory of 100 m long and 80 m wide and controlled by 7 rectangular towers. A tower is kept on the west side (one of its sides) with a height of 10 m. The protective walls are earlier than the existing church. The monastery chambers that no longer exist are built later.
This church is a unique type, it is the largest among the Byzantine churches preserved in Albania in the XI-XIV century and among the oldest architectural monuments. Its outer appearance is in the form of a cubit 17,20 x 11,04 m in planimetry, with its central part being elevated above both sides and covered by 4 dome. The other parts, lower, are three-sided. The outer walls consist of three horizontal bands and are constructed of limestone, large in size. The southern wall has been well preserved and gives more of the former idea. The stones are worked well, but only on the outside. The windows in the upper belt are located three in the south wall and 3 in the west, one on each front. On the eastern wall, in the lower lower part there is an eagle, two dragons and a lion on the sides of the abscess. On the other side of the abscess there is another mythological animal with head as being. Naosi has square shape with a column in the center. Above to pass arches in both directions forming 4 square cores. It is divided by the endonarch and the altar environment with elegant stone crossbow arches.”
“It lies between the ruins of the abandoned Skin village in 1878, on the top of a high hill rising in the form of a pyramid.
The Skate Castle has an almost square plan: 42 x 44 m with two rectangular towers in the western wall.
From the towers is better preserved the tower of the south-eastern corner tower, which in today’s state has a height of 7 m that reaches the height of the floor of the second floor. The rectangular tower is located on the western wall. The first floors of the circular towers have served as a storage room and are equipped with a fridge located about 1.20 m apart. From the position of the placement of the towers it is clear that the direction of the castle control was the sea.
The walls are built of limestone-stoned mortar and reinforced with wooden bows. The height of the walls reaches 6,70 -7 m and the thickness is up to 2 m. The walls were circled by a parapet depicted as a ball-fired crown, covered with horizontal stones. The fringes have a height of 0.50 m, width from inside 0.35 m and 0.04 -0.06 m from the outside. The frets in the upper part are covered with stone tiles located horizontally. Those crossing the parapet on the walls are not so typical for firearms, they are larger than the alias used by Ali Pasha Tepelena. The above technique resembles the houses of the century. XVII-XVIII of Gjirokastra.
The Skate Castle had a garrison of about 200 soldiers and its construction dates back to the mid-XVI century. The possibility of its construction is in 1537, when Sultan Suleiman attacked Corfu and it was necessary to control Saranda’s scaffolding and Saranda-Butrint road, as the latter was occupied by the Venetians.”
“It is located to the east of Saranda, in its dominant part, with dimensions 37.4 x24 m that ends on the east side with a semi-circular apse. The church consists of ours and narthex, the latter being slightly longer than the width of the church. Naosi has longer sides north and south. Inside the church there are two columns of columns showing that we are dealing with a basilica of three nests. To the east of the longitudinal walls there is a tower. The church’s iconostasis consists of a row of columns over the capitals of which a fancy lintel passes, while the lower part of them is decorated with tiles.
The side walls of the church have two-row windows, built on a regular basis with little work stones connected with lime mortar. The church belongs to the XVI century, but has been rebuilt, continuing to be used for a long time, the residential outcomes of the area by the same population. Recently, some people have argued that the church was built (mainly underground works) before the spread of Christianity.
The icons and iconostasis of this church were important works esteemed by Byzantine foreign scholars, which delayed its construction before the Ottoman conquest.”
“To the south of the city of Saranda, on a hill in the peninsula of Ksamil, opposite the island of Corfu lies the ancient city of Butrint (Buthrotos), founded there from the beginning of the 7th century p.e.s.
The town rises above a very low hill, which is wet on all three sides with water. In the east and northeast of the hill stretches the Butrint lake, while the channel crossing the lake with the Ionian Sea passes from the south. The small hillock is covered by a dense green forest, which forms a contrast to the surrounding bushes. This forest is mostly made of wild plants, but fruit trees, such as olives, pears, figs etc. are not missing. The hill is rich with laurels and good pastures for cattle. This dense vegetation gives the Butrint hill a rare beauty. Butrint has attracted the attention of scholars long ago. The earliest archaeological announcements for this city are from Qiryak from Ancona, who, while traveling to Greece, stopped in this city, where he saw the antique constructions, pieces of statues and copied some inscriptions that have now been lost. At the beginning of last century Butrint is visited by other travelers, such as Martin, Liku and Pukevili.
The archaeological mission of Italy headed by Ugolini developed excavations in this city from 1928-1936; After his death, the works continued with P. Markoni and later D. Mustilli until 1940.
As a result of perennial excavations, Butrint has brought to light a series of monuments that we will describe below in historical periods.”