Located at the Shkumbini River, where it crosses the famous Egnatia Road, the city of Elbasani – ancient Scampini – is just 50 km away from Tirana. In ancient times, Scampini was a typical Roman fortification, but in the 4th century it received a new administrative status and, with its new name Hiscampis, it became one of the major cities of the new Epirus, home of the area’s only Roman legion.According to the historian Tit Livi, King Pyrrhus of Epirus was the first to teach others how to construct a camp, which is why the city’s fortification is in the form of a square. In the 6th century, the city broadened beyond the walls of the castle due to its needs as center of the episcopate, with several cathedrals and a large basilica on the hill of Tepe, near the castle. In 1466, the Ottomans took control of the castle of Skampini and econstructed it almost entirely. They renamed the city ( Ilbasan ) Elbasani and it became center of the sanxhak between the 17th and 18th centuries. This was a time of heavy trade, both in and out of the country, which encouraged the significant development of handicrafts. Today, tourists can visit the Church of Saint Mary, the King Mosque (inside the city walls), the Mosque of Naziresha (very rare because of its feminine name), and the Ethnographic Museum, the newly discovered basilica and the Turkish bath (hammam).
In the district of Elbasani there are also two very unique churches painted by Onufri, the famous Albanian painter of the 16th century. You should travel to the villages of Shelcani and Valëshi, in the region of Shpati, to visit them. On the other hand, just 4 km before the entrance of Elbasani, coming from Tirana, there is the Monastery of Shën Gjon Vladimiri. It dates back to 1381 and was constructed by the Albanian prince Karl Topia, who buried there the remains of Saint Gjon Vladimiri, a famous saint well known in Balkans. Actually his remains are in the Orthodox Church in Tirana. For each 4 of June a pilgrimage on his honor is organized in that Monastery. A few kilometers away from Elbasani are the (“llixhat,”) the hot springs used since Roman times. There, you can find accommodations and other facilities.