Albania & Macedonia | Via Egnatia
A journey through time and civilisations, across the dramatic landscapes of southeast Europe. Albania, Macedonia and the Balkans represent one vast patchwork of cultures and civilisations. Our tour takes in the tombs and treasures of Philip of Macedon, the late Imperial glories of Thessaloniki and the beautiful Medieval churches on the shores of Lake Ohrid.
Divided by mountains, the Balkans are united by roads which kept the disparate states and Empires both in contact and conflict. The greatest of these was the Via Egnatia, initially a series of traditional tracks used by the Romans to speed their conquest of Illyria and Macedonia and formalised as the great highway crossing mountain, river and marsh.
- The remarkable World Heritage Site of Lake Ohrid, dotted with Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman sites
- View the Tomb and golden treasures of King Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great
- Receive special entry to normally closed Jeni Mosque, known for its exquisite decorative ornaments and stalactites
- Historic Churches
- Ancient Greek
- Special Access
- Low Single Supplement
- All Inclusive
We fly to Albania and transfer to our hotel.
We begin our journey at Durrës, the principal terminus of the Via Egnatia, Albania’s largest and most bustling seaport with substantial monuments. We visit the circular Forum of Anastasius where the northern branch of the Via Egnatia began. We continue to Apollonia, a great Corinthian Greek colony which was vital for the Roman conquest of the Balkans. It was the starting point of the Via Egnatia’s southern branch.
We travel to Tirana, capital of Albania. We explore the National Historical Museum, which gives a particular view of Albanian history. We continue via the new road tunnel below the Krabbe Pass to Elbasan, ancient Scampis. After walking through the castrum, with its fine late Roman and Ottoman walls, onto the line of the Via Egnatia, we continue to Macedonia.
We enjoy a day in wonderful Ohrid. The ancient city boasts a Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past with impressive monuments from each era. We explore the late Byzantine shrine of St. Clement, the churches of St. Panteleimon and St. Sofia and the 9th century fortress of Tsar Samuel which dominates the city. We stroll to St. Jovan Kaneo, romantically overlooking the beautfiul Lake Ohrid.
We make our way to the Museum on the Water at ‘the Bay of Bones’ - a partial reconstruction of a prehistoric village. We continue to Lake Prespa and St. Naum, before travelling over the spectacular mountains to Kurbinovo by Lake Ohrid. We walk through the wooded landscape to the church of St George, with its fresco cycle of the time of the Commeni emperors and a resurgent Byzantium.
We start the day in Heraklea Lyncestis. A city built by Philip II of Macedon Tthe remains of fine Roman and Byzantine buildings can be found throughout. We explore Bitola, which still retains much of its late Ottoman atmosphere, with very fine 15th century mosques. We also visit the fine Bitola museum, established in an old Turkish military college, where Kemal Ataturk studied.
Later, we cross the border into Greece.
We visit the ancient site and thundering waterfalls in Edessa, which made the city famous in antiquity. We also find the Ottoman bridge that carried the Via Egnatia over the river. In ancient Aigai, the traditional Macedonian capital, we discover the great burial mound which covered the tombs of Macedonian royalty. This was one of the richest finds of grave goods in Europe.
We explore Thessaloniki, the original terminus of the Via Egnatia. We visit the Agora and church of St. Demetrius and the remains of the palace complex of Galerius, the Rotonda, his intended mausoleum, and the great arch over the Via Egnatia. We visit the recently redisplayed and very fine Archaeological Museum and the adjacent Byzantine Museum.
We return home from Thessaloniki.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
2 nights in a comfortable hotel on a beach outside Durres
2 nights in a lake-side hotel in Ohrid overlooking the old city
1 night in a central hotel in Bitola
1 night in a friendly and well-located hotel on the outskirts of Edessa
2 nights in a 5* hotel in Thessaloniki with pool
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