About The Monastery Of 40 Saints
The monastery was built in the 6th century AD as an important Byzantine pilgrimage site. It was named after the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, which is also why it included 40 rooms, one for each of the martyrs. The legend tells that a group of Roman soldiers were asked to renounce their Christian religion in exchange for shelter. They kept loyal to their faith and refused upon which they were killed as martyrs near the city of Sebaste in Armenia.
The monastery has played an important role in the history of Saranda by giving the city its initial name, Agi Saranda, which means “Forty Saints” in Greek. Later the name was shortened by removing “Agi” and only keeping Saranda (forty).
How To Get There
The ruins of the Monastery of 40 Saints are located on the hill east of Saranda, close to Lekursi Castle. From the promenade in town, it’s a 3 kilometer walk, but uphill can take you around 45 minutes to an hour.
There are no buses going there, so if you don’t have your own transportation, you can rent a car or motor cycle, take a taxi or book a tour that includes the monastery.
What To See At The Monastery Of 40 Saints
The building has been in a good condition until World War II, when it was bombed by the British allies in 1944. The remaining ruins have stayed intact during the communist times despite the prohibition of religion in Albania, because the site has been declared a cultural monument. You can walk around freely to visit the ruins and remaining structures.
At the entrance you’ll see an information panel which shows a photo from before and after the destruction and a sketch of what the building looked like.
You can find more photographs of the monastery in its original state (like the one below) in the Museum of Traditions.
The site is not only a must see for its history, but also for its location and views over the Saranda bay on one side, and the mountains on the other side.