In The Pillars of Heracles, the travel writer Paul Theroux whines about his 1995 entry into this beautiful city. While Theroux is one of my favorite writers, his visit here was very shortsighted. (Sometimes that poor guy just needs to relax, forget about the occassional irritations of offbeat travel, and soak in the locale.)

Durres remains one of the oldest cities and working ports in the Adriatic. Founded as Dyrrachium by the Illyrian king, Epidamnos, in 17th century BC, it has seen its fair share of invaders over the more than three millennia of its existence. As the starting point of the Via Agnate, it reap the rewards of being Rome's trade link to the East. Its most recent invader is the Italian mafia, whose activities still go unchecked by the local police and military. (The mafia is simply better armed and better funded.)

Countless invasions and numerous earthquakes have taken their toll on the old city's ancient walls and structures. What's left still remains impressive.

Next: Kruja and King Skanderbeg's Fortress