Vlora is an old city founded in the sixth century B.C., originally known by the name Aulona. Vlora is situated in a beautiful location, in the front of the Karaburun peninsula and Sazan
Island and surrounded by beaches and rocky sand.The city carries historical importance to Albania as it hosted the First National Assembly, which declared the country’s independence from Ottoman rule on November 28th, 1912. The Museum of Independence is dedicated to this historic event. Other museums include the ethnographic and historic ones
On November 28, 1912, the Independence of Albania was declared in Vlora, and the red and black flag with the double-headed eagle was raised. Flag Square is the place where this marked event is commemorated every year, thanks to the Independence Monument in the center of the square, as well as the presence of many objects that are evidence of history. The Independence Monument was built in 1972 in honor of the Declaration of Independence, and the sculptors Muntaz Dhrami, Kristaq Rama and Shaban Hadëri worked for it. The figure of Ismail Qemali, the architect of Independence, who became the first Prime Minister in the history of Albania, stands out in the bronze sculptural group. The monument is 17 meters high, and at the top of it symbolically flies a bronze flag. In Flag Square is also the Flagpole, a pedestal decorated with the date of independence and the national eagle. If you are in the square, you cannot miss a stop at the tomb of Ismail Qemali, located behind the Flagpole inside the nearby park. A wreath of flowers or a symbolic memory in honor of the father of the Albanian nation would be the right way to honor the figure of Qemali.
The Church of St. Mary of Zvërnec
The Church of St. Mary of Zvërnec Monastery is a church in the village of Zvërnec, Vlora, Albania. Church belongs to the XIII-XIV century. The author Theofan Popa, referring to the notes of the Byzantine historian Ana Komnena, thinks that: the tomb must have belonged to Duke Argjiro who was sent to this region in the XI century by the Byzantine Emperor Alex Komneni. The only inscription of this church is on the floor of the Naos on a limestone slab. It measures 1.87 m x 0.67 m and is decorated on the side with a frame of iconic capitals.
Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park
The Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park (Albanian: Parku Detar Karaburun-Sazan) is a marine park in the Vlorë County of southwestern Albania. The marine park encompasses over 125.70 km2 (48.53 sq mi) and comprises the boundaries of both the Peninsula of Karaburun and the Island of Sazan. It is home to a vast array of landforms, including mountains, caves, islands, depressions, bays, cliffs, canyons and rocky coasts, all contributing to an exceptionally considerable biological diversity. The marine park has been identified as an Important Bird and Plant Area, because it supports immense bird and plant species. Containing ecosystems and habitats that are specific to the Mediterranean Basin, the convention of Barcelona has classified the marine park as a Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance. The Karaburun Peninsula is mostly hilly and a geological continuation of the Ceraunian Mountains, a mountain range rising immediately along the Ionian Sea. Its crests combine a northwest–southeast line with a series of distinct peaks along its irregular structure that are broken apart by steep and irregular slopes. The coastal landscape is marked by a rough relief and calcareous limestone cliffs, that dips vertically into the sea. The uninhabited Sazan Island is primarily made up of limestone rocks, which was formed during the Cretaceous period. The waters of Mezokanal in the south separate the island from the peninsula. The most characteristic feature of the island is its unique climate. The island’s climate is not Mediterranean but rather subtropical on account of its warm winters and hot summers, resembling those of the south of Crete, Tunisia and Egypt. The marine park contains diverse landforms offering favorable conditions for a great vegetation and biodiversity. In terms of phytogeography, it falls completely within the Illyrian deciduous forest’s terrestrial ecoregion, of the Palearctic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome. The marine park is distinguished for its diversity of habitats and its richness in flora and fauna. Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been documented, including several that are either endangered or threatened. Almost 55 species of mammals, 105 species of birds, 28 species of reptiles and 10 species of amphibia are known to occur within peninsula, while the island is inhabited by 15 species of mammals, 39 species of birds, 8 species of reptiles, 1 species of amphibia and as well as 122 species of invertebrates. The marine park features ruins of sunken ancient Greek, Roman and World War II ships, rich underwater fauna, steep cliffs and giant caves, ancient inscriptions of sailors on shore, secluded beaches and scenic views of the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. The marine park is located near military bases, so permission may be required from local authorities first. The hiring of a professional local diver for serving as tour guide is thoroughly recommended. Roads are in inaccessible, and the only ways to reach the above areas are by sea or through all day hiking.
Where the Adriatic and the Ionian Seas meet, begins the journey towards the Llogara National Park. The lush forests of pines and oaks are only the beginning of this “mountain of panoramas,” which is beautifully surrounded by numerous mountain ranges and the majestic Ionian Sea. Located only 40 km southeast of Vlora, the Llogara National Park is one of the most visited natural parks in Albania, home to a rich flora and fauna and some of the most exceptional food in the country. Though the park stays open throughout the year, it is most visited during the summer, as a cooling-off stop and a literal rite of passage to the southern Albanian Riviera. The journey towards the famous Llogara Pass, which takes you from Orikum to Dhërmi, begins in the village of Dukat. As you begin the ascent into the Llogara Pass, which ever so beautifully peaks at 1017 meters, you will be surrounded by regal forests that remain magically cool even during the scalding heat of the summer. Among them, is the so-called Flag Pine (Pisha Flamur), a century-old tree, bent from the winds into the shape of a flag. Along both sides of the road, you will have to make the most challenging decision of your trip and choose from Llogara’s several restaurants, known for their delicious meat dishes, in particular. Some other culinary delights that should not be missed include the hot kulaç (the Albanian version of a hot biscuit) with fresh local butter and cheese, as well as the homemade yogurt, plain or with nuts and the famous Llogara honey. If you cannot bring yourself to say goodbye to the latter, you need not worry as you can purchase jars of it from street vendors along the road.