Posted by: travelrat | January 2, 2018

Butrint

A Happy New Year to all my readers! 

Butrint 3

Butrint: 15th October 2017

I am surprised that, although it’s a National Park, and has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site, I’d never heard of Butrint before. It’s a ruined city, about 15 km. south of Sarandë, which was abandoned at some time in the Middle Ages, because of earthquakes and flooding.

Mythology says the city was founded by exiles fleeing the fall of Troy, and it’s mentioned in Virgil’s  Aeneid … it was called Buthrothum in those days.

Archaeologists have found evidence of a defensive wall around the city dating from about 500 BC, and it was described as an important port on the Adriatic Sea. The city came into Roman control in 228 BC, and a good part of the ruins we see today are of Roman origin.  But, since then, it’s been ruled by Byzantines and Venetians, who also made their contribution.

In the 16th Century, the Venetians, at war with the Ottoman Empire, shifted the centre of their interest from Butrint, possession of which alternated between the Ottomans and the Venetians for several years, which left the city in a ruinous state, the earthquake probably being the final nail in the coffin. It deteriorated into a small fishing community until the early 19th Century, when the Ottomans, fearing a French invasion from Corfu, established a fortification here.

The wetlands surrounding Butrint are a protected haven for wildlife; 246 species of birds, 39 species of mammals and 105 species of fish have been identified here. But, the only things we saw within the bounds of the old city were … tortoises or turtles? We couldn’t get close enough to see whether they had feet or flippers.

Butrint 2

Topping all is the tower, built by the Venetians, and restored in the 1930s to accommodate archaeological teams. Surrounding it is a substantial piazza, where there are toilets and a souvenir shop. More importantly, as befits a former defensive work, a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

Butrint 1

 

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