Reviving History: Another Historical Site Renovated under EU4Culture

October 10, 2023

The inauguration ceremony of the former Archbishopric of Durrës in Delbnisht held on October 10, 2023, in Delbnisht marks the end of the restoration works carried out over the past months. The former Archbishopric of Durrës in Delbnisht (Laç) damaged by the 2019 earthquake,  has been renovated under the EU-funded EU4Culture program, implemented by UNOPS in partnership with the Ministry of Culture. The restoration works, valued at approximately 620,000 EUR, commenced in July 2022 and lasted approximately one year.

In the inauguration ceremony took part Ms Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture, Mr Hubert Perr, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation in Albania, Ms Majlinda Shqalsi Cara, Mayor of Kurbin Municipality, Don Massimiliano Maria Spezia, representative of the Catholic Church, Ms Pamela Lama, Senior Manager, UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services) Albania.

According to the currently available historical data, the structure was initially erected in 1905, originally serving as a monastery. Throughout its history, it hosted prominent figures, such as priests and patriots Dom Nikollë Kaçorri, Rafaelo D’Ambrozio, and Prend Bardhi. Over the years, the building underwent various transformations. In 1914, the building was burnt down, leading to its abandonment for three decades. Following this period, it briefly functioned as a local primary school, after which it was not used for many years again and became neglected and dilapidated. In 2015 the building was declared a second-category monument of culture and underwent limited restorations which, however, were never completed. In 2019 the building was severely damaged by the devastating earthquake.

The extensive efforts, undertaken under EU4Culture programme, involved the restoration of the roof and structural consolidation of both the core and the adjacent building’s masonry. The windows, doors, floor surfaces, and finishings were meticulously restored following approved conservation designs. The objective of the consolidation efforts was to preserve the values of the Former Archbishopric of Durres which is a designated monument of culture of 2nd category. Special emphasis was placed on addressing the detrimental effects inflicted by the earthquake in November 2019, ensuring the restoration safeguards its cultural significance. In parallel, comprehensive refurbishments were carried out, including the replacement of mechanical, electrical, and other fittings.  As part of this overhaul, a new well was excavated, and high-voltage electrical cabling was installed.

“Thanks to the work of experts, the unprecedented support of the European Union, through the EU4Culture program, cooperation with UNOPS and the Catholic community of the area, we managed to restore an iconic building, the former Archbishopric of Durrës, in Delbnisht of Laçi. Despite all the problems caused by the earthquake, this cultural monument was saved from destruction and put at the service of the believers,” said Elva Margariti, Minister of Culture.

“The European Union is very proud and very happy to hand over back to the community yet another cultural monument that has been restored under the EU4Culture programme, implemented by UNOPS in partnership with the Ministry of Culture. This site is a fantastic example of the partnership and as well of the solidarity that the European Union has shown to the people of Albania in restoring its cultural monuments damaged by the earthquake.” – said Hubert Perr, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation in Albania.

“Despite the damages caused by the devastating 2019 earthquake, the challenges of time and abandonment, our dedicated team of experts worked hard, restoring and breathing new life into these walls. The restoration works were an extensive endeavor, encompassing everything from the roof to the intricate details of masonry and fittings. At UNOPS, we are very proud to be a trusted partner of the European Union and the Ministry of Culture in restoring, safeguarding Albanian cultural heritage and helping boost local economy and revitalize local community, thus contributing in supporting the country in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development targets” noted Pamela Lama, UNOPS Albania Senior Programme Manager.

Going forward, the building will be utilized by the Catholic Church with the ground floor planned to be transformed into a semi-public area, serving the local community.  This space can be used as a reading corner or a compact exhibition hall, adding to its significance for the community.