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Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about 33 km (21 mi) west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari (300 km/186 mi away) and Brindisi (200 km/124 mi away). Durrës is home to Albania's main port, the Port of Durrës, and to the newest public university, the Aleksandër Moisiu University. It has a population of 115,550, while metropolitan area has a population of 265,330 . In addition, it is the meeting point of national roads SH2 and SH4. Founded in the 7th century BC by Greek colonists from Corinth and Corcyra under the name Epidamnos, it has been continuously inhabited for 27 centuries and is one of the oldest cities in Albania. Durrës served as Albania's national capital from 7 March 1914 until 11 February 1920 during the reign of William of Albania in Principality of Albania.
The city was known with its Greek names Epidamnus (Επίδαμνος) or Dyrrhachion (Δυρράχιον) in the classical and Roman antiquity. Roman authors believed that either she was renamed from Epidamnus to Dyrrachium because "damn" had a negative meaning in Latin or that she was named so after the hero Dyrrachius. In other languages is known by derivatives of the name Dyrrachium, i.e. in Slavonic Drač (Драч), in Ottoman Turkish Dıraç and in Italian Durazzo. In the past few decades, the Albanian name of the city, Durrës (Durrësi), has gradually replaced the widespread use of the Italian name Durazzo. For other names by which Durrës is known, see other names of Durrës.
Durrës has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool winters. The average of water temperature in Durrës is from 14 °C (57 °F) in February to 26 °C (79 °F) in August. The summer in Durrës starts from May to middle of October .
Durrës is still an important link to Western Europe due to its port and its proximity to the Italian port cities, notably Bari, to which daily ferries run. As well as the dockyard, it also possesses an important shipyard and manufacturing industries, notably producing leather, plastic and tobacco products. The neighbouring district produce wine and a variety of foodstuffs.
National Historical Museum
Though surviving remains are minimal, as one of the oldest cities in Albania, the city was founded as Epidamnos in the ancient region of Illyria in 627 BC by ancient Greek colonists from Corinth and Corcyra, modern-day Corfu. The general vicinity of Epidamus was called Epidamnia. The city's geographical position was highly advantageous, as it was situated around a natural rocky harbour which was surrounded by inland swamps and high cliffs on the seaward side, making the city very difficult to attack from either land or sea.
Epidamnos was noted for being a politically advanced society, prompting Aristotle to praise its political system in controlling trade between the Greek colonists and the local barbarians. However, Corinth and Corcyra, each with a claim to be "mother city" (metropolis), quarreled over the city, helping to precipitate the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC as one of the most significant battles took place on the Durrës seaside. Epidamnos was seized by Glaukias, an Illyrian king, in 312 BC with the help of the local Greek oligarchy. Later Queen Teuta attacked Epidamnos but withdrew when the Romans arrived the same year (229 BC) and expelled the Illyrian garrison from the city, including it thereafter in their protectorate. The Romans set up replaced the rule of Teuta with that of Demetrius of Pharos, one of her generals. He lost his kingdom, including Epidamnus, to the Romans in 219 BC at the Second Illyrian War. In the Third Illyrian War Epidamnus was attacked by Gentius but he was defeated by the Romans at the same year.
For Catullus, the city was Durrachium Hadriae tabernam, "the taberna of the Adriatic", one of the stopping places for a Roman traveling up the Adriatic, as Catullus had done himself in the sailing season of 56.