Vlora is one of the largest towns and the second largest port city of Albania, after Durrës, with a population of 79,948.[1] It is the city where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on November 28, 1912. The city was for a short time the capital of Albania.
Founded as an ancient Greek colony in the 6th century BC by the name of Aulon and continuously inhabited for about 26 centuries, Vlorë is home to the Port of Vlorë and University of Vlorë as the most important economical and cultural city of southwestern Albania.

Etymology

The modern name for the city is the Albanian form Vlorë or Vlora, both pronounced [ˈvlɔɾə], while in the Gheg dialect it is known asVlonë. Vlorë was created in antiquity as Greek colony in the territory of Illyria. Its first name, still used today in Greece, was Aulón(Greek: Αυλών), meaning “valley” and possibly a translation of another indigenous name. The Greek name is the source of the Italian name Valona (also used in other languages) and of the obsolete English Avlona. During the Ottoman era, the Turkish Avlonya was also used.

Geography

The city is located in Albania, in the District of Vlorë and County of Vlorë.

Vlorë is situated on the Bay of Vlorë, an inlet on the Adriatic Sea, almost surrounded by mountains. The port of Vlorë is closer in proximity than any other to the port of Bari, Italy, and is just 70 nautical miles (130 km) from Salento’s coasts. The island of Sazan is nearby, strategically located at the entrance to the Bay of Vlorë.

The town is surrounded by gardens and olive groves. Valonia, the mass name for acorn cups obtained in the neighboring oak forests and (because of its chemical derivatives) used by tanners, derives its name from Valona, the ancient name of Vlorë.

A new motorway is being constructed linking the city with Fier and Albania as a whole. One of the most panoramic routes of the Albanian Riviera starts to the south of town stretching up to Sarande in extreme southern Albania.

History

Vlorë is one of the oldest cities of Albania. It was founded by Ancient Greeks in the 6th century BC and named Aulōn, one of several colonies on the Illyrian coast, mentioned for the first time by Ptolemy (Geographia, III, xii, 2). Other geographical documents, such as Peutinger’s “Tabula” and the “Synecdemus” of Hierocles, also mention it. The city was an important port of the Roman Empire, when it was part of Epirus Nova.

It became an episcopal see in the 5th century. Among the known bishops are Nazarius, in 458, and Soter, in 553 (Daniele Farlati, Illyricum sacrum, VII, 397–401). The diocese at that time belonged to the Patriarchate of Rome. In 733 it was annexed, with all eastern Illyricum, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and yet it is not mentioned in any Notitiae episcopatuum of that Church. The bishopric had probably been suppressed, for, though the Bulgarians had been in possession of this country for some time, Avlona is not mentioned in the “Notitiae episcopatuum” of the Patriarchate of Achrida. Vlorë played a central role in the conflicts between the Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Byzantine Empireduring the 11th and 12th centuries. During the Latin domination, a Latin see was established, and Eubel (Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I, 124) mentions several of its bishops. Several of the Latin bishops mentioned by Le Quien (Oriens christianus, III, 855-8), and whom Eubel (I, 541) mentions under the See of Valanea in Syria, belong either to Aulon in Greece (now Salona) or to Aulon in Albania (Vlorë).

The Serbian Empire captured Vlorë, or Valona, as it was also called, in 1345 and formed the seat of an independent principality until it was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1417. Under Ottoman rule, it became a sanjak centre in Rumeli Eyaleti as “Avlonya”; and after coming under Venetian possession in 1690, the city was restored to the Turks in 1691, becoming a kaza of the sanjak of Berat in the vilayet (province) of Janina. The city had about 10,000 inhabitants; there was a Catholic parish, which belonged to the Archdiocese of Durrës; it persisted nominally as a titular see, suffragan of Durrës. In the 16th century, it was an important center for Sephardic Jewishrefugees from Spain and Portugal.

In 1851 it suffered severely from an earthquake.

Ismail Qemali declared Albania’s independence in Vlorë on November 28, 1912, during the First Balkan War. The city became Albania’s first capital following its independence, but was invaded by Italy in 1914, duringWorld War I. The city remained occupied by Italian forces until 1920, in which an Albanian rebellion forced the Italians out of Albania. Italy again invaded Vlorë in 1939. The fascists occupied the city until Italy surrendered to the allies in 1943, following which Nazi Germany occupied the city until 1944. The city was liberated in 1944 by communist forces under Enver Hoxha.

During World War II, the island of Sazan in Bay of Vlorë became the site of a German and Italian submarine base and naval installations; these were heavily bombed by the Allies.

After WWII, under communism, the port was leased to the Soviet Union as a submarine base, and played an important part in the conflict between Enver Hoxha and Nikita Khrushchev in 1960–1961, as the Soviet Union had made considerable investments in the naval facilities at nearby Pasha Liman and objected strongly to the loss of them as a consequence of Albania denouncing the USSR as ‘revisionist’ and taking the Chinese side in the split in the world communist movement. The Soviet Union threatened to occupy Vlora with Soviet troops in April 1961, and cut off all Soviet economic, military and technical aid to Albania. The threat was not carried out, as a result of the simultaneous development of the Cuban missiles crisis, but Hoxha realized how vulnerable Albania was, and, after the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, he built the tens of thousands of ubiquitous concrete bunkers that still litter the entire Albanian landscape. Under Hoxha, Vlorë was an important recruiting centre for theSigurimi, the secret police.

In 1997, Vlorë was the center of popular riots after the collapse of several fraudulent investment schemes that led to the downfall of the Sali Berishaadministration, and almost turned into a civil war.

Economy

Vlorë remains a major seaport and commercial centre, with a significant fishing and industrial sector. The surrounding region produces petroleum, natural gas, bitumen and salt. The city is also the location of important installations of the Albanian Navy.

Vlorë has grown in importance as an agricultural center with very large-scale planting of olive and fruit trees, and as a center of the food processing, oil and bitumen export industries.

The surrounding district is mainly agricultural and pastoral, producing oats, maize, cotton, olive oil, cattle, sheep, skins, hides and butter. These commodities are exported.

Tourism has become a major industry in recent years, with many hotels, recreational centers, and vast beaches. It is a pleasant place to relax, to have a coffee and admire the beautiful view over the Bay of Vlorë.

Source : WikiPedia

Image Gallery

Vlora on map

City center