Durrës, Krujë, and Prezë
Site History and Significance
Durrës, Krujë, and Prezë
One of the largest and oldest cities in Albania, Durrës was founded in the seventh century BCE by the Greek colonist Epidamnos from Corinth and Corcyra. Under the Roman Empire, it served as the starting point of the Via Egnatia, a Roman road built in the second century BCE to connect Rome to Eastern provinces. The fortifications of Durrës were primarily built by Byzantine ruler Anastasius (490-518) and represent a rich blend of building techniques and historic periods (Ancient, Byzantine, and Middle Ages). The fortifications were to serve defense role. Today, we witness sections of remaining structure of 6th century; a part of the 500 m long wall composed of 4 towers out of which only 3 were still standing, Tower B,C, and D.
An Albanian symbol linked to the fifteenth-century national hero Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeg, the Castle of Krujë is the most frequently visited cultural site in Albania. The castle features fortification walls, a clock tower, vernacular houses, and religious monuments. It is an integral part of a highly attractive historical, cultural, and natural landscape. One of the most renown monuments within the perimeter of its walls is the Tekke of Dolma, an 18th century building for spiritual retreat that is designated as a Cultural Monument of Albania.
The medieval fortress of Prezë, built to control insurgencies in the territory around Krujë, also served to protect the major road connecting Shkodrë with Durrës and Krujë. One of the core strongholds of the Albanian resistance against the Ottoman Empire between 1443 and 1468, the castle is among the most visited places in the Tirana region.
A Devastating Earthquake
On November 26, 2019, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Albania’s central coast. It was the strongest earthquake to hit the country in decades. At the quake’s epicenter, the coastal city of Durrës was particularly affected. Slightly further from the epicenter, the quake impacted buildings and structures in the capital, Tirana, and in the city of Krujë and its hinterland.
WMF's Crisis Response Program
In the wake of the earthquake, Cultural Heritage without Borders Albania (CHwB), the National Institute for Cultural Heritage, and World Monuments Fund (WMF) created a consortium to advise on the design and implementation of emergency stabilization measures for the affected structures. Through WMF’s Crisis Response Program, WMF is providing scientific and technical advice on conservation standards, best practices, and conservation planning for a project led by CHwB with support from the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).
Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation
The project supported by WMF is focused on three sites: a tower of the sixth-century fortifications of Durrës; the eleventh-century clock tower, and eighteenth-century tekke (Tekke of Dollmë) at the Castle of Krujë; and the fourteenth-century fortifications walls and clock tower of Prezë.
Beginning with the design and implementation of an immediate emergency stabilization plan, the project includes an in-depth survey and structural, historic, and conservation analysis as the basis for a comprehensive reconstruction proposal; the reconstruction of fallen sections at the sites; and the implementation of recovery measures at other affected sections.
World Monuments Fund safeguards cultural heritage around the globe, ensuring our treasured places are preserved for present and future generations.
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