Byllis

Star Travel Rating

4/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

March, 2017

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

Byllis is a wonderful site, set on top of a ridge with views of the surrounding countryside. At the end of March, the ground was covered with wild flowers.

It is possibly one of the largest archaeological sites in Albania, but much of the site is unexcavated with lumps and bumps in the ground and unidentified walls. It is quite a confusing site although there are a few signs in both Albanian and English explaining what the buildings were.

The site has been settled from the C4th BC and is surrounded by a massive C3rd BC wall of large slabs of stone. Inside was a planned city with a regular street pattern. This was the capital of the area and able to mint its own coins. It was also a defensive stronghold for the area in times of trouble when the local population with their animals could find shelter here. It became a Roman colony but was sacked by the Visigoths in C4th and again later in the C6th, when it was refortified by enclosing a smaller area with new walls. The site was finally abandoned at the end of the C6th after further attacks.

By the restaurant and car park, and surrounded by a wire fence, is the Cathedral or Basilica B which is one of the most impressive buildings on the site with the remains of columns. This was built between the C4th and C6th and had three naves and a baptistry. Unfortunately there is no tourist access.

Beyond it is a jumble of walls which was the Agora area with the Prytaneion building which was used by the Illyrians as a meeting place. Near this is the remains of the arsenal, an underground structure, again built in the C3rd BC .

Perhaps the most impressive part of the site are the remains of the C3rd BC Theatre at the southern edge, which was built against the slope of the hillside and would have held 7500 spectators. At the base of the slope are the seats of the prominent citizens, still with carving on their backs. The seats for the rest of the population were far less comfortable. It is worth climbing up to the top for the views.

Spectators would enter through Gate 5 which is the best preserved of the gateways and part of the C3rd BC wall can be seen here.

Roman remains in the area include the foundations of a Roman villa and a Roman bath house and cistern.

In some ways there isn’t a lot to see, unlike at “Butrint.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/albania/day_three/index.html It is the sheer size of the place which makes it impressive. This is a site to wander and enjoy rather than trying to make out the history and what is what.

There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/albania/day_five/five_two/index.html

ESW

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