Durres: First phase of the Roman Amphitheatre rehabilitation completed

The initial phase of the project to restore the Roman Amphitheatre in Durres in Albania, listed among ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ heritage sites in Europe in 2013, was successfully concluded in February 2016. The nearly 10-month intervention consisted of the demolition of three residential structures located in the inner part of the site. The second phase, which is expected to begin in October 2016, includes the removal of ten houses on the eastern side and the complete uncovering of the arena.

Roman Amphitheatre in Durrës, ALBANIA
The Roman Amphitheatre of Durres rehabilitation project was launched in May 2015 by the Albanian Ministry of Culture. On this occasion, the Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro and the Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako stressed the importance of the venture which aims to fully rehabilitate this remarkable arena.

Situated in the centre of Durres, the Amphitheatre, which embodies unique architectural and cultural values, is one of the largest and most important of its kind in the Balkan Peninsula and the only one in Albania. Dating back to the 2nd century AD, the monument was only discovered in the 1960s and it is still partially-buried today. Due to its late discovery, it has endured chaotic urban planning, which has affected its structure, and suffered from continued deterioration.

Supported by the Albanian Government, in cooperation with the Municipality of Durres, the first phase of the project, running from mid-May 2015 to the end of February 2016, was implemented by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Monuments in Durres. It was budgeted at nearly €360,000, of which around €330,000 were used to reimburse the owners of the houses, while the remainder was spent on the demolition of the houses and some conservation works.

The second intervention, which is scheduled to begin in mid-October 2016, features the removal of ten houses on the eastern side and the complete uncovering of the arena. From the estimated budget of around €502,000, €430,000 will be distributed between the owners to compensate for the houses and the rest will be allocated to the rehabilitation of the site.

Following a two-day working visit to Durres in October 2013 by heritage and financial experts from Europa Nostra and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), the feasibility study for the rehabilitation of the Roman Amphitheatre was discussed at a meeting in Brussels on 6 December 2013.

The final technical and financial report – funded by the CEB, through the Spanish Social Cohesion Account – was presented to governmental institutions and local authorities during a meeting held at Durres City Hall in March 2014. Pedro Ponce de Léon, Scientific Council Member of Europa Nostra, Lida Miraj, Council Member of Europa Nostra, and Armada Molla, Chairwoman of the Association for Development of Cultural Tourism (ADCT), which nominated the site for The 7 Most Endangered programme, participated in the meeting.

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