Day 1: Visit of Ardenica Monastery and Apollonia Archeological Park
Stop At: Ardenica Monastery, Ardenice Albania
The tour starts at 08.30 a.m. From your hotel in Tirana. It will take approximately 1.5 hours and a half to reach Ardenica.
It is located 237 mt above the sea level Ardenica Monastery built during the 2^sentury on the ruins of a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis on the hills around the actual city of Fier. The monastery has a Byzantine-orthodox architecture but with many romanesque features, which lies on a surface of 2.500 meters square. It is composed of the Saint Mary Church, the chapel of Saint Trinity, a mill, and a barn. Perhaps the most interesting historical event recorded in Ardenica is Skanderbeg’s wedding to his lifelong wife Donika, hosted in April of 1451 at the Chapel of St. Trinity Church, the monastery’s very first church, built in the 10th century.
During the 17th-18th century, the monastery became famous for its abundant library with thousands of volumes. As one of the largest libraries in the Balkans, this place hosted many priests from all over the world who came to Ardenica for their researches. Over time, the monastery included a school and dormitory for Greek Liturgy and became an important center for learning the Albanian language.
Beyond all its historical and cultural values, the Monastery is well worth visiting for the scenery that surrounds its strategic position. Form here, you get a view over the Adriatic Sea, the Lagoon of Karavasta, Mount Tomorr, and the Dajti Mountain.
Optional: A coffee break in one of the Bars to enjoying a panoramic view of the area.
Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
Stop At: Apollonia Archaeological Park, Pojan Albania
In 40 minutes driving from Ardenica hills, we will reach the Archeological Park of Apollonia situated in southwestern Albania, about 13 miles from the city of Fier.
Apollonia was an ancient Greek colony city, which former bishopric in Illyria. Apollonia is situated in southwestern Albania and founded during the first half of the 6th century BC by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth. It stands on a hilly plateau from where expands the fertile plain of Musacchia with the Adriatic Sea and the hills of Mallakastra. The ruins of Apollonia are discovered at the beginning of the 19th century.
The ancient city flourished during the 4th century AD as an important economic and trade center. This place is also famous as the city where emperor Augustus studied Philosophy.
The city became one of the most important gateways of the transbalkanic Via Egnatia. While in its famous Academy has studied and undergone military training Octavianus, accompanied by Agrippas, the eminent general and statesman of the Roman Empire
This archaeologic park or site also contains a Museum of Archaeology that is situated at the old Monastery of Saint Mary.
After the visit to Apollonia, we will proceed toward Berat city for 1.5 hours and get accommodated in the hotel. Free evening. Dinner included.
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Accommodation included: Accommodation is provided in one of the best characteristic hotels in Berat.
Breakfast is included.
Day 2: Berat Castle - Onufri Iconography Museum - Ethnographic Museum - City sightseeing
Stop At: Berat Castle, Rruga Mihal Komnena, Berat 5001 Albania
After breakfast in the hotel, you will be taken to Berat Castle which dates back to 4rth century BC. There you will learn that Berat was invaded three times by the Ottomans, Romans, and Bulgarians to became later on a big principality under the rule of Albanian noble family of Muzaka in the 14th century. Visit the castle as one of the marvelous sights of the city. It is one of the biggest inhabited Castles and has many Byzantine churches, as well as some mosques built during the Ottoman era which began in 1417.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: National Iconographic Museum Onufri, Located in the Inner Part of Saint Mary Church in Berat Castel, Berat Albania
Our walk in the castle will take us to the Onufri Museum, which is set up inside the Cathedral “Assumption of Saint Mary ” renovated in the 18th century. Besides the beautifully carved Iconostasis, you will admire as well the icons of the renowned Albanian painter "Onufri".
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: National Ethnographic Museum Berat, Lagja 13 Shtatori Mangalem, Berat Albania
As we walk down through the Mangalem quarter toward the city center we will visit the Ethnographic museum, which is a traditional house and where you will learn a lot about the local culture, customs, crafts work, and living style.
Duration: 40 minutes
Pass By: Mangalem, Berat, Albania
After the visit at the Ethnographic museum, we will proceed down toward the medieval center, King Mosque, and Helveti Tekke and learn about the interesting cohabitation of two religious groups close to one another
Pass By: Gorica Bridge, Berat 5001 Albania
The next stop is in the old quarters of Mangalem and Gorica that connect with each other by the Gorica Bridge over the Osumi River. Both quarters take pride in their architecture and the rare shapes of the houses.
Stop At: Belsh, Belsh, Elbasan County
Optional stop: for a coffee break on the way to Tirana.
This is a round trip between the beautiful hills of Belsh, the Elbasan area with amazing landscapes. Belsh town has a few lakes and the coffee would be close to any of the bars next to the lake.
Duration: 30 minutes
No accommodation included on this day.