The castle of Lëkurës, located in the ruins of the village of Lëkurës - in a dominant position on the Gulf of Saranda, in front of the 'Forty Saints' monastery - abandoned in the 1878, is a major tourist attraction in the coastal city.
The castle of Lëkurës, between past and modern age
It is believed that its construction was carried out by Sultan Sulejmani in 1537, the year in which he attacked the city of Corfu, and for this reason it was essential to have control of Saranda.
According to the English colonel WM Leake, at the beginning of the 14th century, the castle controlled the Saranda naval platform. The fortress has a square plan (42 x 44 meters) with two circular towers in the north-west and south-east and a rectangular tower in the west wall.
The walls of the castle reach a height of 6,5 meters, while the thickness varies from 1,7 to 1,9 meters. The entrance, complete with an arch, is to the east. Restorations carried out on the walls, on the left side of the entrance, revealed the rooms of a small post-Byzantine church with wall paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Along the perimeter of the fortification are the ruins of the village of Lëkurës mentioned in the first Ottoman documents; however, the Italian archaeologist Luigi Maria Ugolini - who visited the ruins at the beginning of the 20th century - traces the structures back to the Byzantine period. In the 1583 the village counted 80 dwellings and about 20 warriors.
William Martin Leake, as mentioned, claimed that the village was built by Ali Pasha, but undoubtedly that era coincides with the restoration of the castle by the Vizier of Ioannina.
The ruins of the houses, their courtyards and basements, the ruins of the towers and religious buildings are still preserved in the village. Currently the entire area of Lëkurës is included in the protected area of the castle; the fortress of Lëkurës was declared a cultural monument of first order by the ministry of education and culture the 30 May of the 1970.
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