The city of Butrinti (Bothrota) is one of the fragments which form the fabric of Albania's ancient cultural landscape. Nestling in the highlands in the far south of the country and surrounded by dense vegetation, Butrinti was doubly protected by nature and by the fortifications which its inhabitants built in ancient times. However, this was not sufficient to isolate the city from the rest of the world. Less than ten kilometers from the island of Corfu, Butrinti was linked to the Mediterranean by the Vivari canal, which ran from the Butrinti Lake to the Ionian Sea.

The proximity of the sea and the lake, the gentle climate and the beauty of the surrounding countryside provided a splendid environment for the foundation of a city. In taking advantage of this site, the architects of the past constructed what was to become one of the major maritime and commercial centers of the Ancient World. Butrinti reached the height of its glory in the 4th century B.C., at which time the city numbered 10,000 inhabitants.

The sight of the fortifications alone, which date from the 6th century B.C., evokes the military and economic potential of the city at that time. The hill on which the acropolis stands is encircled by a wall built of huge stone blocks. In places this wall is two meters high and 3.5 meters wide.

The amphitheater, dating from the 3rd century B.C., bears witness to the cultural riches of the city. The stone banks of seating, of which twenty-three rows have been preserved, would have held an audience of 1,500. The theater is situated at the foot of the acropolis, close by two temples, one of which is dedicated to Asclepios, the Greek god of medicine, who was worshiped by the city's inhabitants. Approximately thirty inscriptions, almost all in ancient Greek, carved the western facade of this temple, and another hundred or so found on a tower which was rebuilt in the 1st century B.C., are the only examples of writing discovered in Butrinti. These inscriptions are mainly concerned with the liberation of slaves.

Excavations have brought to light many objects - plates, vases, ceramic candle sticks - as well as sculptures, including a remarkable "Goddess of Butrinti," which seems to completely embody, in the perfection of its features, the Greek ideal of physical beauty.
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