"Digging at Butrint" Top 5 Page for this destination Butrint by illumina

Butrint Travel Guide: 106 reviews and 219 photos

Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, occupies a small peninsula between the Straits of Corfu and Lake Butrint. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city, and a bishopric. Following a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration, then a brief occupation by the Venetians, the city was abandoned in the late Middle Ages after marshes formed in the area. The present archaeological site is a repository of ruins representing each period in the city's development.

These photos were taken in September 2002. This shows Lake Butrint from the peninsula, looking towards the site of Diaporit where I spent almost a month digging, and beyond, what we were told was the Greek border on top of Mile mountain (the map shows it being a long way behind the mountain, but colleagues who went for a climb up there did get stopped by Greek Army guards!!). We quite often crossed the lake by small motorboat to reach the site.

This view from Butrint castle, built by the Venetians, looks out over the Vrina plain along one of the canals dug with the help of the Chinese communist government, towards the village of Shen Deli.

A very interesting experience to pass through the villages of the Vrina plain on the way to work (if the boat was too crowded we took the long way round by Landrover!). Vrine, Shen Deli, Xarra; all had their own character. There's a mixture of different religions in Albania, and I think each village represented one of them (Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim respectively; the gleaming white minaret of the mosque at Xarra was particularly attractive), but there seems to be no tension at all, and I was told that people frequently convert to a different religion if it will aid them in their career for example. A very refreshing perspective.


This site on the shores of the lake contains the remnants of a Roman villa, dating to between the late 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD, overlain by a late 5th century three-aisled church, containing marble tombs which, until the 14th century, held the bones of saints, martyrs or church patrons.

It was a marvellous experience to work here, with such a friendly bunch of British, Irish and Albanian archaeologists; a real 'once in a lifetime' trip!

  • Last visit to Butrint: Sep 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (40)

Comments (9)

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    A discovery for me! Walking in these old ruins under the Mediterranean sun must be something exceptional! The primitive Christian basilicas and the mosaics would keep me there for hours! You were lucky Joss!

  • RAJASTHANBYCAR's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2008 at 2:27 AM

    Hi Joss New Happy Year Cheers! Mahavir

  • Sininen's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2008 at 1:04 AM

    Another place I'd love to visit. Great detailed tips with beautiful pictures.

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Oct 17, 2006 at 9:54 AM

    Fascinating. What an interesting job in a lovely place.

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    May 10, 2006 at 7:34 AM

    I just love pages like this. You had mentioned Albania previously so I decided to stop by. Been here for an hour. This is great stuff. Needs an email.

  • Apr 17, 2006 at 11:42 AM

    Hi Joss, Wonderful descriptions and pictures of Butrint. The hotel looks very unusual....and pretty! Thank you for sharing. Warm regards.

  • zlatiq's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2006 at 12:03 PM

    yes,i'm still working on your pages and it seems i'll have to come back for more:)i love your professional descriptions of the ruins!cool!

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2006 at 8:08 AM

    Wow, you have been working in Butrint! What a great experience! Do you plan to go for another campaign? If we visit Butrint in 2006, that would have been great to meet a specialist, working on the site ! You have added a lot to your page!

  • Avieira67's Profile Photo
    Apr 7, 2006 at 11:12 AM

    Hello! You have wonderful tips about Butrint and Albania. About Butrint, I have some pictures but I must scan them... Best wishes,


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