Monday, 21 August 2017

Albania: Monastery at Mesopotam, Photographed by Massimiliano Fusari

Text by | Photographs by Massimiliano Fusari   
Albania might not have the highest standard of living of all the Balkan states, but it is the most mysterious country on the peninsula. Besides being travelled through and written about quite seldom, it hides many layers, buried deep under the surface of its simple modern existence.

The profound, all-embracing confusion stemmed from the rivalry between the Eastern and Western Christian Churches and the heretic beliefs that spread throughout the peninsula. It was continued by several denominations of Islam and concluded by the passing through of Judaism, including its extremely strange Dönmeh form – a Muslim-Jewish hybrid, with deep roots along the Adriatic coast.

In the twentieth century, all that was covered up by a layer of the militant atheism of the Enver Hoxha Era. And now, when that top layer is disintegrating, a curious past begins to be visible through the cracks.

One of its remarkable elements is the Monastery at Mesopotam, 10 kilometres away from Saranda.

Mentioned for the first time by historical chronicles in 1081 in connection to a battle between Byzantine troops and the invading Normans near Butrint, it is a majestic building: its 10-metre-tall wall once contained seven towers, the largest of which has been preserved to a large extent. The Saint Nicholas Church, which can be seen today, was most likely built in the thirteenth century and remodelled in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, while its iconostasis from reworked Roman columns bear traces of almost each and every era of the Balkans’ history.

In this magical series of photographs, Italian photographer Massimiliano Fusari captured the UNESCO-restored monastery and its surroundings, and his images peek into many more windows of history than that of Christianity on Albanian lands.

You can see more photographs of the UNESCO and Regione Puglia sponsored project at The related exhibition, together with other materials, will be on display in Bari, Italy, at the Castello Svevo from April 18, 2009 to May 09, 2009.

Read more about Albania on

Albania: Monastery at Mesopotam, Photographed by Massimiliano Fusari
Gjirokastër: Albania’s Town of the Stones
Albania: Four Reasons to Visit Europe's Least Known Country
The Blue Eye Water Spring in Southern Albania Beckons with Coolness
Byllis, Albania: Ancient City in the Sky

Towns of Note: Berat, Albania




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