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Apollonia, Albania

It is one of the most important archaeological sites of Albania. At the same time one of the most highly frequented places by most of the visitors coming to Albania Cicero, the famed Roman orator, was captivated by the beauty of Apollonia and in his “Philippics” referred to it as “magna urbs et gravis” or “the great and important city.” The ancient city, founded in the 7th century BCE by Greek settlers from Corinth and Corcyra, is located 11 km west of the modern city of Fier. A main work to bring into the sight many of the treasures of Apolonia was made by French mission lead by Prof Leon Rey between 1924 –1938. Archaeological excavations have shown that Apollonia reached its zenith during the 4th – 3rd century BCE. Studies estimate that around 60,000 inhabitants lived inside the city gates. The city has a 4 km long wall encircling an area of 137 hectares. Sources depict a flourishing culture with a busy harbor along this active trading route. Among the most interesting remains is the city council building, the library, the triumphal arch and the temple of Artemis. The Odeon, from the 2nd century B.C, is also noteworthy as it once accommodated approximately 10,000 spectators. There is also a spectacular 77 m long stoa with a covered walkway. An earthquake in the 3rd century CE, in addition to causing damage to infrastructure, altered the path of the Vjosa River and the harbor eventually silted up. This effectively changed the trading route and the once proud city declined until it was nearly uninhabited. Apollonia was “rediscovered” in the 18th century CE, and archaeological efforts have continued intermittently throughout the 20th century CE. Today the site is easily accessible from the nearby city of Fier and it offers both unique views of the Adriatic coastline and numerous historical and archaeological items of great interest to visitors. Apollonia has today the status of an Archaeological Park. 

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