About 30 minutes from Durrës is a partially excavated site that is referred to as ‘Albanopoli’. It is thought to be the site of the ancient capital city of Illyria. The following description is provided by Haxhi, who is leading the project to turn this site into a tourist attraction. The site is the focus of a project we are helping and the following is background information provided by the project director.

One hundred and forty years have passed since the famous Austrian scientist George Han, visited the ancient walls of the Illyrian castle in Zgerdhesh village near Kruja city, and formed the opinion that this place, called the Hill of Kakariqi, should be excavated to find the ancient “Albanopoli” ruins. The interest in this Illyrian city is linked to the national name of Albanians. Albanians have a historical witness to their capital Albanopoli, the ancient geographer and cartographer of the second century of Christ, Claud Ptoleme. He based his writings on the gathered knowledge by erudition science of that period which was dedicated to an important place to the Illyrian world and their localities. In his work, “Geography”, Albanopoli, the capital of Albanians, was placed in the latitude of 41°5” and in the longitude of 46°, between Mat and Shkumbin rivers (Ptoleme, III, 12, 20).

Entrance to city

This important Illyrian centre was visited during the First World War by another Austrian scientist, K. Prashniker. Even though this archeologist did a short description and a plan-project, this investigator, well known in other cases for his detailed observations, produced in this case an investigation which has been a source of confusion (C. Praschniker – A – Schober – A. For. In Albanein und Montenegro, Wien 1919, pg. 28-30).

Southern gate

The speculation about Albanopoli has been supported by other scientist, like Tomachek (1893) Jiricek (1912), and P. Sesteri (1942), an Italian archaeologist, but his notes have not contributed anything new, compared to the two previously mentioned Austrian authors.


In this important Illyrian centre during the summer of 1969 and during 1973 was developed through expeditions organized by the Institute of Culture and Monuments and guided by archaeologists, restorers and famous historians like Selim Islami, Gjirak Karaiskay, etc. They did not reach any convincing arguments in favor of the opinion that Albanopoli is located in Zgerdhesh. They did however reach the conclusion that the hypothesis of G. Han, in which Ptoleme puts Albanopoli as a tagged city, remains always a valuable hypothesis and useful for research in the future. This statement: “We do not know any other ancient centre bigger than Zgerdhesh” – has made this hypothesis resistant.


We should not forget that the Zgerdhesh ruins have already been certified as ruins of an important Illyrian big city, which was built and flourished near another big city like Dyrrah, and for this fact it is worthy to be pursued by native and foreign scientists.

Haxhi Taga
Head of “Albanopoli” Association


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