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Delvinë

Delvinë is a municipality in Vlorë County, southern Albania, 16 kilometres (10 miles) northeast of Saranda.


The city is built on a mountain slope. It has a mosque, a Catholic church, a Protestant church, and an Orthodox church. Nearby are the remainders of a medieval castle. To the south west of the city is the site of ancient Phoenice, which was declared an Archaeological Park in 2005.

There is little local employment apart from that provided by the State, and Delvinë benefits little from the tourist boom in Saranda.

The town has a mixed population of Albanians and Greeks. According to the Human Rights Watch, Greeks constituted 50% of the town's population in 1989, but this fell to 25% in 1999.

History

In antiquity the region was inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. In the Middle Ages, Delvinë was part of the Despotate of Epirus. After defeat of Slavic tribes in 616 when they unsuccessfully besieged Thesalloniki, one of the tribes (Vajunites) migrated to Epirus. Until the 14th century this region in Epirus was referred to as Vanegetia, against the name of this Slavic tribe. Similar toponyms like Viyanite or Viyantije survived until the 16th century when they were replaced with the name Delvinë.

Delvinë under Ottoman Turkish control

The Sanjak of Delvina was established in the middle of 16th century. Its county town was Delvinë but during the 18th century the local Pasha moved the seat of the sanjak from Delvine to Gjirokastër. Its official name didn't change, however, it was also referred as Sanjak of Gjirokastër.

In 1635, according to the Codex of the church of Delvinë, when the Muslims had increased they dwelt in quarters inhabited by the Christian Orthodox, confiscated their churches and converted them to mosques, thereby forcing the non-Islamized Christians to move to other quarters of the town. The Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi visited Delvinë around 1670 and gave some information about the city in his travel book. He reported that in the Middle Ages Delvinë was in the hands of the Spanish and later the Venetians.

In his own time, Ajaz Mehmet Pasha - a native Albanian - governed the Sanjak-bey of Delvinë. The sanjak covered 24 zeamets and 155 timars. There was a Turkish garrison, whose command on the castle was from Delvinë. According to the description of Çelebis, the small fortress had a good cisterne, an ammunition depot and a small mosque. In the city there were about 100 brick-built houses. These stood relatively far apart and nearly every house had a tower. He noted that a town wall was missing. There was several mosques, three Medreses and about 80 stores as well as an open market place.

In 1878 a Greek rebellion broke out, with the revolutionaries, mostly Epirotes, taking control of Sarandë and Delvinë. However, it was suppressed by the Ottoman troops, who burned 20 villages of the region. In the early 20th century a çetë(armed band) consisting of 200 activists of the Albanian National Awakening was formed in Delvinë. During the Balkan Wars and the subsequent Ottoman defeat, the Greek Army entered the city at March 3, 1913.

In June 1914 the town hosted the constituent assembly of the representatives of Northern Epirus that discussed and finally approved the Protocol of Corfu, on July 26, 1914. Delvino then became part of the short-lived Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus.
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