Not JUST Another Ancient Ruin: Butrint, Albania
Some people don’t like ruins. Some people think you can see too many ruins and it becomes monotonous. Ruin, after ruin, after ruin… But for me, it is more like RUIN AFTER RUIN AFTER RUIN *drools*. I really can’t describe how much I love ruins. Walking their ancient paths and being mesmerized by the architecture that has lasted through centuries. So when I visited Butrint in Albania, it was not JUST another ancient ruin.
Did you know that the root of the Albanian language is distinctly unique? It doesn’t trace to Germanic, Balto-Slavic, or Greek. It is special. So visiting a ruin in a country whose language is descended from Illyrian (The original country and people of the Balkans), Albania’s solely unique dissention, make Butrint a ruin worth visiting. Sure, it wasn’t built by the Illyrian’s, but Albania is special, this ruin should be visited!
Butrint was formly known as Epirus, a city build by the ancient Greeks in the 4th century BC. The city started small, on an outlet of land, and it grew and grew till the outlet had no more land to build on. It has a history traced to Troy, Andromache, Helenus, and Augustus. If you aren’t up to par with your Greek mythology, its ok, just know that Butrint was an important city many years ago.
Our guide George did his master’s degree in archaeology and helped excavate Butrint. This made his knowledge and insights more personal, and the ruins came alive. With his words he created a vivid image of Butrint as it was formerly.
He even had some secrets to share with us. Like in the old church, if you dig under the sand a little you can still see the original mosaic tile floors below! The major tile mosaic is covered in sand to protect it from the elements, so that wasn’t visible, but with George’s knowledge of the ruin, he helped us explore the original work of the area.
The church was my favourite section of Butrint. It is still so well intact, tall walls, strong arches, and the perfect amount of crumbling stones.
The amphitheatre is filled with water. I asked why they do not suck it out. George explained that it was a fruitless endeavor because of the placement of Butrint; the land below was soft and the rising water table would simply refill it. And the turtles who have made the amphitheatre their home are too cute to evict.
Over a low doorway are what appear to be bumpy rocks, but as George pointed out, is actually the carving of a Lion. The doorway is known as the Lion Gate (ahhh, now the dots are connecting…) and said Lion is devouring the head of a bull. Why this image? It is apotropaic image, used to ward off evil, and is often depicted in Greek art.
Butrint had all the features of a ruin I could want and more. So to me, Butrint is special;
Butrint is not JUST another Ancient Ruin.
Useful Information: Entry Price: Non-Albanians is 700 Lek (6 Euros) Hours: The Butrint National Park from 8am to dusk The museum from 8am. to 4pm.