Apollonia, located 11km from Fier near the village of Pojan (Pojani), is one of the most well known archeological sites in the country. It is founded in 588 BC by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra near thye mouth of Vjosa River. Apollonia is one of 30 ancient towns dedicated to God Apollo. The site was already used by Corinthian traders and the Taulantii, an Illyrian tribe, who remained closely involved with the settlement for centuries and lived alongside the Greek colonists.

Apollonia Apollonia Odeon

Aristotle considered Apollonia an important example of an oligarchic system, as the descendants of the Greek colonists controlled the city and prevailed over a large serf population of mostly Illyrian origin. The city grew rich on the slave trade and local agriculture, as well as its large harbour, said to have been able to hold a hundred ships at a time. The remains of a late sixth-century temple, located just outside the city, were reported in 2006; it was only the fifth known Hellenic temple found in present-day Albania.

In 229 BC Apollonia came under the control of the Roman Republic, to which it was firmly loyal. It flourished under Roman rule and was noted by Cicero in his Philippics as magna urbs et gravis, a great and important city. Its decline began in the 3rd century AD, when an earthquake changed the path of the Vjosa river, causing the harbour to silt up and the inland area to become a malaria-ridden swamp.

The site has been investigated by archaologists from 1916, still much of the site remains unexcavated to this day. Some of the team's archeological discoveries are on display within the monastery, and other artefacts from Apollonia are in the capital Tirana. Unfortunately, during the anarchy that followed the collapse of the communist regime in 1990, the archeological collection was plundered. The ruins were also frequently dug up by plunderers for relics to be sold to collectors abroad.

The amphitheatre, a colonnade of shops and several other parts of the Roman city centre are open to the public. A museum is to be found on the site of the 13th century monastery. In the courtyard of the monastery there is Byzantine style church believed to have been built in the 14th century. Here visitors can see some monuments like the Encircling Wall, the Terraced Wall, the monument of Agonothetes, the Library, the Odeon, the Mosaics House, Portic, Fontana, the Church of Saint Mary, etc.

Location of Apollonia (jpg, 39kB)

Actualized: 10/2008
Map of Albanian Sights Map of Albanian Sights Link to website of National Tourist Organisation of Albania