Biblioteka Lezhë Bibliotekat Publike - panoramio.jpg
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Lezhë photomontage
Stema e Bashkisë Lezhë.svg
Lezhë is located in Albania
Coordinates: 41°47′N 19°38′E / 41.783°N 19.633°E / 41.783; 19.633
Country Albania
 • MayorPjerin Ndreu (PS)
 • Municipality514.97 km2 (198.83 sq mi)
10 m (30 ft)
 • Municipality
 • Municipality density130/km2 (330/sq mi)
 • Municipal unit
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal Code
Area Code(0)215
Vehicle registrationAL
WebsiteOfficial Website

Lezhë (Albanian: Lezha or Lezhë, Albanian pronunciation: [ˈlɛʒə]) is a town and municipality in northwest Albania, in the county with the same name.

One of the main strongholds of the Labeates,[1] the earliest of the fortification walls of the city seems to date to the late 4th century BC and to be of native Illyrian construction.[2] On the same site, an ancient Greek colony named Lissos was founded by Dionysius I of Syracuse.[3][4] The city was later alternatively under Illyrian, Macedonian and Roman rule.

The present municipality was formed at the 2015 local government reform by the merger of the former municipalities Balldren, Blinisht, Dajç, Kallmet, Kolsh, Lezhë, Shëngjin, Shënkoll, Ungrej and Zejmen, that became municipal units. The seat of the municipality is the town Lezhë.[5] The total population is 65,633 (2011 census),[6] in a total area of 514.97 square kilometres (199 square miles).[7] The population of the former municipality at the 2011 census was 15,510.[6]


The town itself is known in Albanian as Lezhë. In Turkish, the town is known as Leş or Eşim and in Italian as Alessio.


The grave of Skanderbeg (former Selimie Mosque) and Lezhë Castle on its hill

The city dates back to at least 8th century BC.[8] Around 385 BC, Dionysius I of Syracuse founded a Greek colony by the name of Lissos (Λισσός), on a site already occupied by Illyrian settlers,[4][2] as part of a strategy by Dionysius to secure Syracusan trade routes along the Adriatic.[9] Diodorus calls it a polis.[4] The city was separated into sectors by diateichisma[4] (Greek: διατείχισμα, "cross-wall"[10]) and there are elements of Syracusan architecture in part of its walls. At a later time it came under Illyrian rule. In 211 BC, Philip V of Macedon captured the citadel of Akrolissos, and Lissos surrendered to him.[11] The town was later recovered by the Illyrians. It was in Lissos that Perseus of Macedon negotiated an alliance against Rome with the Illyrian king Gentius, and it was from Lissos that Gentius organized his army against the Romans. Lissos maintained a large degree of municipal autonomy under both Macedonian and Illyrian rule, as evidenced by the coins minted there.[9] The city was of some importance in the Roman Civil War, being taken by Marc Antony [12] and then remaining loyal to Caesar. In Roman times, the city was part of the province of Epirus Nova,[13] its name Latinized as Lissus.[14]

From 2004 an excavation started around the ancient Acropolis of Lissos and the Skanderbeg Memorial, which revealed Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine buildings, tombs and other findings.[15]

Lezha Castle

In Middle Ages Lissus (then known as Alessio) frequently changed masters until the Venetians took possession of it in 1386. It still belonged to them when Skanderbeg died, but In 1478 it fell into the hands of Turks during the siege of Shkodra, with the exception of a short period (1501–1506) when it returned to Venetian domination.[16] Because it was under the Venetian control, it was chosen in 1444 by George Castrioti (Skanderbeg) as a neutral place for the convention of Albanian, Serbian, Dalmatian and other lords of the area aiming at organizing their common defence against the Turks.[17]

According to other historians, Lezhë is considered as the site of the League of Lezhë where Skanderbeg united the Albanian princes in the fight against the Ottoman Empire.

Skanderbeg was buried in the cathedral of Lezhë which was dedicated to Saint Nicholas and later used as Selimie Mosque.

Lezhë has also been known by the Italian form of its name, Alessio and in the 19th century as Alise, Lesch, Eschenderari, or Mrtav (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Today Lezhë is a growing city. Its proximity to the port of Shëngjin as well as its location on the national road between the Montenegrin border to the North and Tirana to the South makes it an attractive location for industry and business.

Majority of the people from Lezhë descend from the Zadrima, Mirdita and Malësia/Malësi e madhe regions of northwestern Albania. The people from Zadrima and Mirdita are native to Lezhë and the surrounding area. Whilst the Malësor clans from Malësia, such as Kelmendi, Shkreli, Kastrati etc., had settled Lezhë and surrounding areas around 100–300 years ago. In terms of religion, Lezha has a Catholic majority(70-80%) and a Muslim minority(30-20%)


Remains of the Lezhe castle


State Road 32 From Shëngjin


There are urban buses throughout the city and international and national buses.


Lezhe has a train station not far from the center. The line starts in Durrës and ends in Shkodër. It is functonally but not frequently.


The main highway in Lezhe is E762. The E762 stars in Fushë-Krujë and ends in Shkodër. The Durrës-Kukës Highway intersects with E762 in Milot. Also the SH32 intersects in to Lezhe coming from Shëngjin.


The association football club is KS Besëlidhja Lezhë. Although primarily concerned with football, KS Besëlidhja also participates in sports such as wrestling and beach volleyball.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ Robin Waterfield (2014). Taken at the Flood: The Roman Conquest of Greece. OUP Oxford. p. 49. ISBN 0-19-166414-6. Lissus, one of the main strongholds of the Labeatae. Its occupation by Philip V [...]
  2. ^ a b P. J. Stylianou (1998). A Historical Commentary on Diodorus Siculus, book 15. Clarendon Press. p. 194. ISBN 0-19-815239-6. [...] the pottery at Lissos is Hellenistic or later and the earliest of the fortification walls seems to date to the late 4th century and to be of native Illyrian construction.
  3. ^ P. J. Stylianou (1998). A Historical Commentary on Diodorus Siculus, book 15. Clarendon Press. p. 194. ISBN 0-19-815239-6.
  4. ^ a b c d Mogens Herman Hansen (2004). An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis. Oxford University Press. p. 322. ISBN 0-19-814099-1. Lissos was founded shortly before 385 by Dionysios I [...] on the steep slope of a hill, modern Lezha [...] a site already occupied by Illyrian settlers.
  5. ^ Law nr. 115/2014 Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Population and housing census - Lezhë 2011" (PDF). INSTAT. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  7. ^ "Correspondence table LAU – NUTS 2016, EU-28 and EFTA / available Candidate Countries" (XLS). Eurostat. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  8. ^ Robert Elsie (2010), Historical Dictionary of Albania, Historical Dictionaries of Europe, 75 (2 ed.), Scarecrow Press, p. 272, ISBN 978-0810861886, As a settlement, Lezha, with its fortified acropolis, dates back at least to the eighth century BC.
  9. ^ a b Evans, A., Destani, B., Ancient Illyria, an archeological exploration. IB Tauris, 2007. p. 276.
  10. ^ διατείχισμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  11. ^ Polybius 8.13-14
  12. ^ Plutarch (1920). Life of Antony. Loeb Classical Edition. p. 7.4.
  13. ^ Epirus Vetus: The Archaeology of a Late Antique Province (Duckworth Archaeology) by William Bowden, 2003, ISBN 0-7156-3116-0,2003, page 233, of Lissos in Epirus Nova
  14. ^ Diodorus Siculus, "Library", 15.13 at Perseus
  15. ^ Karl-Franzens Universitat, Lissus excavation report 2004. Archived 2011-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, article "Alessio (Lissus, Alexiensis)"
  17. ^ Schmitt Jens O.(2009) Skanderbeg, Der neue Alexander auf dem Balkan, Verlag Friedrich Pustet, pp. 55,56

External links

  • Lezha Online News
  • Shengjini Travel & Tourism
  • Municipality of Lezha
  • Adristorical Lands EU Tourism Project
  • timetables for Lezha