40 Saints Monastery
The Fourty Saints Monastery was built in the 6th Century in dedication to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and was thought to be an important pilgrimage site in the region but now remains in ruins following bombings in WWII and years of neglect. It is however, the only monument of its kind still semi-preserved in Albania and the Balkans. The Monastery of the 40 Saints is located in the East part of Saranda city (about 4km away), is approximately 40m x 25m in size and contains 40 rooms – one for each of the Martyrs.
Looking closely at the structure of the building you can see that it was constructed using traditional Byzantine building techniques. Byzantine building methods were known to be some of the most advanced in the world during the middle ages with the 40 Saints Monastery hosting similar architectural details to that of Christian basilicas dating back to the period of Constantine the Great. The 40 Martyrs of Sebaste (or 40 Christian Soldiers) were a group of soldiers who were kills near Sebaste, Armenia for refusing to renounce their Christian reliagion.
The city of Saranda got its name from the 40 Saints Monastery as in Greek, “Saranda” means “40”.
Oringinally the Monastery was composed of two floors, the upper and the lower, however the upper level was destroyed in WWII.
[adsense]The monastery was declared a Cultural Monument of the 1st category in 1970 following the prohibitiion of religion in Albania.
You can request permission from the Sarande town hall (Bashkia Saranda) to visit the crypt.
In 2014 the Albanian Development Fund planned to look into improving the infrastructure around the site for the potential of increasing tourism in the area.