Butrint, Albania

Butrint is situated in south-western Albania on the small Ksamili peninsula between the Straits of Corfu and Lake Butrint. A tectonic lagoon of 1600 ha, Butrint Lake is surrounded by forested hills, mountains and both saltwater and freshwater marshes. Butrint is home to a high proportion of Albania’s biodiversity and the largest number of amphibian and reptile species recorded at an Albanian site.

Wetland archaeology

Butrint was unearthed in the 20th century by excavations prompted by Mussolini which revealed remnants of the different civilisations that had left their mark on the site. These include the Greek theatre (3rd-2nd century BC), two temples and richly decorated gates, Roman baths, the Temple of Minerva, the Nymphaeum, the Diaporit villa, the Triconch palace, the Byzantine baptistery and basilica, the Venetian triangular fortress (16th century) and the Turkish castle (19th century). The Greek theatre is still used for concerts of classical and folk music as well as plays. In 1994, the Albanian Institute of Archaeology and the Institute of World Archaeology (IWA) conducted excavations under the aegis of the Butrint Foundation. Reservations have, however, been expressed about the effect of the continuous large-scale excavations on the fragile equilibrium of the wetland. Conservation work was carried out in 2006 in various parts of the site, notably in the Nymphaeum, the Roman villa, the basilica and the baths at Diaporit.

Scientific research and education

The enlargement of the World Heritage Site and the creation of the Butrint National Park (1999–2000) have greatly assisted in re-establishing institutional control over the site and several projects have been launched recently. The site is frequently visited by schools and welcomes large numbers of tourists. In 2006, the number of visitors increased by 30% over previous years.

Festivals, celebrations and events

For more than a decade, the ‘Butrint 2000’ drama festival has been staging its performances in the recently restored theatre. Professional companies from countries around the world including England, Italy, France, Greece, the USA, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine, Spain, Hungary, the Netherland, Sweden, FYROM, Kosovo, Switzerland, Turkey, Russia, Cyprus and the Czech Republic have participated in this event.