Home Economy Albanopolis, ancient Illyrian evidence, part of “100 villages” project

Albanopolis, ancient Illyrian evidence, part of “100 villages” project

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TIRANA, Feb 14 /ATA/ – The village of Halil, which stands on the foundations of Albanopolis has been picked for the Albanian govt. project of 100 villages, which includes implementation of strategic investments by four ministries to ensure integrated development of rural areas in the country. This approach comes in the follow-up to the national project “Urban Renaissance” which proved to be a success turning the revitalized public spaces over to the citizens and providing opportunities for socio-economic development.

The integrated programme for rural development is aimed at coordinating investments to upgrade public, community and environmental infrastructure in tandem with the features of cultural and natural heritage.

The goal is to promote economic development of the areas unlocking their tourist potentials such as development of agri-tourism and craftsmanship.
Apart from public services, this project will have a direct impact on employment of inhabitants and setup of new businesses through a favourable financial and fiscal policy.

Drini Masha, the chief of Tourist Information Office at Kruja town hall says that in line with the project, the village of Halil has been chosen as one of the rural areas where investments can generate economic and social development owing to tourist potentials.
Albanopolis lies on the right hand side of the road that leads from Fushë Kruja to Kruja, near the village of Halil. In 1871, the renowned Austrian Albanologist, Hahn, visited the Illyrian Castle at Zgërdhesh and was the first to launch the idea that this was the ancient ALBANOPOLIS, the major settlement of the Alban tribe which gave its name to the whole country.

The ancient town built on top of a hill occupied an area of 10 hectares. Powerful walls, 1,400 meters long, protected the town on all sides. Today only a 90 meter long fragment of the wall remains. The acropolis occupied a third of the area. Among the terracotta archaeological finds retrieved in Zgërdhesh, worthy of mention is a small marble statuette of the Goddess Artemis. The ancient town flourished for three or four centuries, until it was abandoned in the 2nd century A.D.
The Illyrian city of Zgerdhesh is not mentioned in ancient literary or historical documents, as such, although many scholars believe that it was the city of ALBANOPOLIS mentioned by Pliny. Archeological investigations have shown that settlements on the site at the base of the Kruje end of the mountain range began in the 7C or 6C BC, when an acropolis covering about 1.3 hectares was enclosed with walls. In a second construction phase, in the 4C or 3C BC, a much larger area was enclosed, covering over 8 hectares, with the walls totalling 1350m in length. A series of defensive towers was built around the perimeter at this stage.

The city seems to have flourished for 300 or 400 years before being largely abandoned in the 2C BC, and the inhabitants moved to Dyrrachium or Lissus. Some evidence of settlement has been found going up to the 6C, when Kruje came to dominate completely the surrounding district.

A visit to Ancient Zgerdhesh is rewarding for the magnificent views across the coastal lowlands towards the Adriatic as well as for the impressive remains of Illyrian walls and fortifications. On a clear day there is a good view of the sea.

“To date, Albanopolis is part of the tour package “Visit Kruja”, however due to poor infrastructure and the damaged ancient infrastructure, it has been left off the trail. Under the project of 100 tourist villages, it will be brought back to its identity and linked with the itinerary of old bazaar- Kruja fortress, Kruja Mount – National Park of Qafë Shtamë” Drini Masha says.

The projects implemented so far by Kruja municipality are reconstruction and archaeological excavations in the ancient site of Albanopolis, improvement of road infrastructure, sewerage system, requalification of Halil village centre as a socio-cultural space and installation of lighting system on the main roads.
Another novelty under this project is promotion of agriculture, such as expansion of olive groves, a common occurrence before the ‘90ies.

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