Classical Tour of Albania
Saranda is a modern resort town. There is little left of
Lekuresi Castle, it is worth driving up for the views.
Bradt Guide to Albania describes Saranda as an “unappealing
concrete jungle”. This does seem rather a harsh description,
even though it is a modern town with a lot of high rise
buildings built during the 1990s construction boom.
It is a tourist town with hotels and cafes built around the bay and a stylish new mosque.
There is a new promenade along the water front with many attractive marble statues, like these two dolphins.
Saranda was never a Roman colony although must have been reasonably prosperous as a wall was built round the settlement in the C4th. Part of this can be seen next to the remains of a C5th synagogue in the town centre.
On the outskirts of the town are the remains of Lekuresi Castle, which was built by the Ottomans in the C16th to protect the settlement from attack from Corfu and to control the road to Butrint. This is reached up a steep road with a lot of hairpin bends. The remains of earlier houses can be seen outside the castle walls. There are also a lot of concrete bunkers from the Cold War.
Outside the entrance to the castle are the remains of a C17/18th church with some frescoes in poor condition.
The inside was flattened when a restaurant was built during the uncontrolled development of the 1990s. Unfortunately no archaeological records were kept at the time and little is known about the castle.
There is little reason to visit apart from the view on a clear day, when you can see down the coast as far as Butrint , and across the bay to Corfu with Italy in the distance. Unfortunately it was very hazy when we visited and looking into the sun, it was difficult to get good pictures.
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