Orikum - Atlas Obscura

Orikum

Orikum, Albania

Nestled at the southern end of the Bay of Vlore in Albania resides ruins that contain Illyrian, Greek, and Roman influences.  

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The ancient ruins of Orikum, at the south end of the Bay of Vlorë in Albania, is an important historical landmark boasting a rich history, well-preserved ruins, and a unique blend of Illyrian, Greek and Roman influences. 

Founded by Euboeans and originally situated on an island, Orikum was well-positioned for communication with Corfu and Greece. The city was only 40 miles across the sea from Otranto, making it a convenient stopover between Greece and Italy. Ancient sources described it as a harbor, but it eventually attained the status of a polis and issued its own coins from around 230 to 168 B.C.

Orikum’s military importance continued under Roman rule, as it served as a base during Rome’s wars with the Illyrians and Macedonia, which occupied it for a time. Julius Caesar captured the city during the civil war in 48 B.C.Under Ottoman rule, the city was renamed Orikum Pashaliman, “the Pasha’s harbor,” and the lagoon and nearby Albanian navy base still bears this name today.

The city’s past is not only marked by ancient history; in 1950, Pashaliman was the only Soviet base in the Mediterranean. The base became a hot spot of conflict between the Russians and Albanians in 1961. The base is still in operation today, hosting a small fleet of ships.Visitors to Orikum can marvel at the ancient ruins, which, although not as extensive or well-preserved as other sites, are impressive nonetheless. The picturesque surroundings of the Bay of Vlorë and the verdant hillsides create a stunning backdrop, adding to the allure of this historical landmark.

Know Before You Go

To reach the ancient city of Orikum, it's best to rent a car or hire a taxi from the nearby city of Vlore, which is about a 20-minute drive away.


There's a small entrance fee to the site (~$2), but it's always a good idea to bring water and snacks, as there are limited facilities available.


Keep in mind that the terrain can be uneven, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do some walking. Due to its open and essentially unprotected nature, visitors should be respectful and conscientious, helping to preserve the site for future generations to enjoy.

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August 21, 2023

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