Antigonea – the magical temple that can be enjoyed at every season

November 18, 2019 || views

By Kristina Fidhi

Visitors who are passionate about history, antique objects, silenced civilizations, but also nature can visit the ancient city of Antigonea in every season. Antigonea in on top of Jerma hill facing Gjirokastra city and is to this day a natural balcony and strategic point over Drino River valley. For many centuries, Antigonea has attracted visitors like a magnet. Excavations that started since 1970s brought to life a civilization of the past that was led by Pyrrhus of Epirus and a city that he built to honour his wife, Antigone, in the 295 BC. Even though the theatre, forum, and many public facilities have not been discovered the ruins demonstrate that part of history that Plutarch describes as: “built for love, and destroyed by hate.”



The city has a spectacular layout with massive protective walls and active sites for visitors like the acropolis, the necropolis, roads, stairs, sewerage, houses, the agora, and the famous neighbourhood of artisans that produced objects of ceramic, fabric, wood, stone, and metal. Antigonea covers a land size of 50 hectares and has an impressive construction system, a wide collection of artefacts, especially made of ceramics for everyday use.
The ancient city was recognized as a modern civilization and the visitor can naturally grasp a reflection of the lifestyle that used to be.
The managerial staff said that visitors who came during this past summer were from all over the world. The park can be reached through various paths. Every type of visitor can easily find elements they can enjoy from the ruins.
Professional horse riders are the most frequent visitors in the park. Lisa and Yaron are from Florida, USA and they visited Antigonea at the start of the autumn riding horses. They were joined by their European friends who were equally mesmerized with their discovery. They have both done horse riding in many places around the world, but they admit that in Antigonea collects many of their passions in one place; horses, antiquity, diverse flora, and a natural habitat of butterflies. Christiani is a resistance equestrian from France, who came back to Albania to ride his horse after five years. He said that very few things had changed in the site since his last visit and he wished that more visitors came to explore this wonderful place. He felt pleased as he climbed the southern slope of Antigonea on horseback and noticed a greater number of birds fluttering over Drino Valley. This valley is the largest habitat in Europe to yellow claws hawks.
Despite being there for many decades, Antigonea is a site that refutes crowds and
massive tourism.

How to get there:
1. From Gjirokastra you can take public transportation until Asim Zeneli village. From there you can travel on foot along a rural area that surrounds the ancient civilization. Hiking on foot takes 1 hour and 20 minutes with a medium difficulty scale. The same path can be followed when returning.
2. From Gjirokastra you can take public transportation until Asim Zeneli village. If you are experienced in horse-riding, make sure to book a horseback ride to explore the city of Antigonea.
3. Antigonea Park can be reached by a 4×4 vehicle that could be rented in Gjirokastra. This is another unique adventure. The same itinerary can be travelled by bike or motorcycle.
4. Antigonea trip is great for a family weekend gateway. The children will have fun in the park. An autumnal picnic is a brilliant way to escape routine.

Do not violate the legacy of the park by taking ceramics away with you. Each piece that you find can be used to reconstruct the ancient objects. Visitors of every age and category are not allowed to make fire for picnic. Take your garbage with you when leaving the park. Don’t burden the managerial staff with your waste.
The entrance ticket is 200 lekë for visitors and 300 lekë for vehicles.