Durrës Castle (Albanian: Kalaja e Durrësit) is the fortified old city of Durrës, Albania. It is enclosed by city walls built in the late 5th century, and repaired and reinforced in the Middle Ages and early modern periods.

Durrës Castle
Kalaja e Durrësit
Durrës, Albania
Venetian Tower
Venetian Tower of Durrës
Durrës Castle Kalaja e Durrësit is located in Albania
Durrës Castle Kalaja e Durrësit
Durrës Castle
Kalaja e Durrësit
Coordinates41°18′35″N 19°26′49″E / 41.3097°N 19.4470°E / 41.3097; 19.4470
Site information
Owner Albania
Controlled by Byzantine Empire
Kingdom of Albania
Principality of Albania
 Republic of Venice
 Ottoman Empire
The Big Four (World War I)
Site history
Built1st century BC (final form in 5th century)
Built byFinal form created by Emperor of the Byzantine Empire Anastasius I Dicorus
Battles/warsBattle of Dyrrhachium (1018), Battle of Dyrrhachium (1081), Battle of Durrës (1939)
EventsMiss Shqipëria 2009



The castle was built by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I (r. 491–518), a native of Durrës (ancient Dyrrhachium), who was born into an Illyro-Roman family.[1][2] At the time, Anastasius made the city one of the most fortified cities on the Adriatic.[3][4] The ancient walls were devastated in an earthquake in 1273, and had to be extensively repaired.

Durrës Castle in 1573

After the Venetians seized Durrës in 1392 from Gjergj Thopia, they set to improve the castles already impressive fortifications, reinforcing it with several guard towers. The walls are quoted as early as the 11th century by Byzantine princess and historian Anna Komnene in her Alexiad as having been so thick, that "four horsemen could ride abreast on top of them".[5][6] The castle remained under Venetian sovereignty until 1501, when Durrës fell to the Ottoman Empire, which would end up holding the city until 1912. During Ottoman Rule, the walls were again reinforced. Currently the medieval walls stand at nearly 15 feet (4.6 meters) in height and the three entrances of some of the fortification towers are preserved in nearly one-third of the original length of the city walls.

Durrës during the middle ages

On 7 April 1939, Albanian patriots fought the Italian invasion of Albania. In Durrës, a force of only 360 Albanians, mostly gendarmes and townspeople, led by Abaz Kupi, the commander of the gendarmerie in Durrës, and Mujo Ulqinaku, a marine official, tried to halt the Italian advance. Armed only with small arms and three machine guns, they succeeded in keeping the Italians at bay for several hours until a large number of light tanks disembarked from the latter's naval vessels. After that, resistance diminished and within five hours the Italian forces had captured the entire city.[7]



In February 2022 it was announced that The Durrës Castle would begin Restoration on the Main Durrës Tower by the EU4Culture Group In Albania. This Restoration project is presumed to take 6 Months to Complete and the cost of investment for the project is 675,000 Euros. This Project will Conserve and Upgrade the Infrastructure of the Tower and will add a new digital and classic interpretation of the tower and many other things that will go beyond just a regular Infrastructure Repair. This Restoration will turn the Durrës Tower into the first heritage interpretation center in Albania.[8][9]


See also



  1. ^ Focanti, Lorenzo (1988). The fragments of late antique patria (PDF) (Thesis). University of Gottingen. p. 214. Christodorus' flourishing is dated to the reign of Anastasius I Dicorus (491–518 AD). Born circa 431 AD, the Illyrian soldier rose to the throne thanks to his marriage to Ariadne, the widow of the preceding ruler Zeno.
  2. ^ Croke, Brian (2001). Count Marcellinus and his chronicle. Oxford University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-19-815001-5. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  3. ^ Norwich, John (1988). Byzantium: the Early Centuries. London: Penguin. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-670-80251-7.
  4. ^   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Anastasius I". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 919.
  5. ^ Fine, John V. A.; Fine, John Van Antwerp (1 January 1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press. p. 418. ISBN 0472082604.
  6. ^ Kalaja e Durrësit Archived 2018-10-16 at the Wayback Machine, Durrës Guide (in Albanian)
  7. ^ Albania and King Zog: independence, republic and monarchy 1908-1939 Author Owen Pearson Edition illustrated Publisher I.B.Tauris, 2004 ISBN 1-84511-013-7, ISBN 978-1-84511-013-0 p. 444-445
  8. ^ "Venetian Tower, restoration interventions 6 months and investment 675 thousand euros". SotNews. 21 February 2022.
  9. ^ "18 February 2022 – Kick start of the restoration works in Venetian Tower". EU4Culture.