Monuments built to commemorate love are some of the most stunning in the world. One look at the mesmerizing Taj Mahal confirms this! In Albania, one can find not just a monument but the ruins of an entire city dedicated to the love of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, who founded Antigonea in 295 B.C. and named it after his first wife in order to honor her.
Antigonea is located only 14 km to the east of Gjirokastër, near the village of Saraqinishtë in the Drino valley. The Archeological Park enables the visitor to have a close look at the history of an ancient city which, despite its short flourishing period (3rd-2nd century B.C.) became an important political, cultural and economic center for the entire region during its existence. Historical evidence and discovered artifacts show that the city was destroyed by the Roman troops in 168 B.C. within a short and extremely violent period.
A significant part of the city’s wall fortification has survived intact over the years, revealing the magnificent fortress the city once had. The ruins of Nimfeum along with the columns, promenade, beautiful peristyle flats and many other public facilities faithfully convey the atmosphere of antiquity, instantly transporting the visitor to another world. A must-see in Antigonea is the Paleo-Christian mosaic, which serves as a historical bridge between Christianity and the later stages of European history. There are several old churches near Antigonea, as well, that are well-worth visiting, particularly the Church of St. Koll, built in 1680.
As you walk down a hill, approaching the grand ruins of this ancient city, you will notice its dominating position over the entire valley. This position allows the visitor to fully absorb the spectacular view of the mountains and the surrounding nature, making the visit to this Archaeological Park an incredible experience. But the journey through history does not end at Antigonea. Along the entire Drino Valley you will find the ruins of 15 ancient urban centers, with the most prominent ones being those of Hadrianopolis.
Click here for the official booklet and map of the Antigonea Park.