The Butrint National Park is the most famous attraction in the south of Albania and the UNESCO World Heritage site is the most visited archaeological park in the country. In this guide you can find everything you need to know before visiting Butrint.
History Of Butrint
Butrint’s name (originaly Buthrotum in Latin) was derived from the word buthrotos, which means “wounded bull”. This is based on a Greek mythological legend, in which the offering of a bull failed on the island of Corfu. The bull escaped and swam to the mainland, which was considered a sign of the gods and the Greek decided to build a settlement at this place. According to archaeologist the earliest evidence of settled occupation dates back between the 10th and 8th centuries BC.
Helenus, son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, is considered the founder of Butrint, and the settlement became one of the major centers of the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. It was stategically located because of its access to the Straits of Corfu and around the 6th century BC it was fortified. By then it already included a theatre and a sanctuary.
In 228 BC Butrint became a Roman protectorate and in the next century became part of Macedonia. From 44 BC Julius Ceasar made it a Roman colony and allowed his soldiers that fought agains Pompey to settle there as a reward. Marshland was reclaimed to grow the settlement significantly and an aqueduct, a Roman bath, a nymphaeum, and a forum complex were added. The settlement became a major port in the province of Old Epirus and survived until the late antiquity period. When signs of decline were already visible an earthquake destroyed large parts of the town and it was finally abandoned.
In the late 5th century extensive rebuilding started under Byzantine reign. After several conflicts and declining power of the Byzantine Empire, the Angevins took control and later sold it together with Corfu to the Venetians in 1386. Again the area switched hands several times, this time between the Venetians and Ottoman Empires and it even came under French sovereignty in 1797 before being conquered and occupied by the Ottoman governor Ali Pasha Tepelena in 1799. Under Ottoman occupation the town ended up being deserted and hadn’t been populated for centuries when it became part of the independent Albania in 1913.