SITE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE D'APOLLONIE D'ILLYRIE
Petit Futé's opinion on SITE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE D'APOLLONIE D'ILLYRIE
This archaeological site (Parku arkeologjik i Apolonisë) is the largest in Albania. It extends on 750 ha around two hills of approximately 100 m of altitude and includes a museum, a medieval church and two restaurants. It houses the remains of Apollonia of Illyria, the most important of the thirty cities dedicated to Apollo on the Mediterranean rim. It was founded around 588 BC by Greek settlers from Corcyra (Corfu) and Corinth (Peloponnese) who exploited here deposits of naphtha, a crude oil used as fuel and to waterproof amphorae and ships. Coveted by the Illyrians and Macedonians, the city came under the control of Rome in the 3rd century BC. In the first century AD, the future emperor Augustus came to live there for six months to complete his education. He later granted Apollonia the rare status of "free city", which allowed it to keep its currency and institutions. Abandoned in the5th century, it was "rediscovered" by travelers in the 18th century. But it is under the direction of two French archaeologists that the most important excavations were carried out: Léon Rey (1887-1954) in the 1920s, then Pierre Cabanes (born in 1930) from 1976.
Bunkers, stoa and nymphaeum. If the site is pleasant, has explanatory panels in French and offers beautiful views on the delta of the Vjosa and the sea, the visit is a little disappointing, because many vestiges disappeared in 1967 with the installation here of nearly 400 bunkers. Several large buildings remain visible, however. To the left after the entrance stands the portico of the Bouleuterion, which housed the city council (the boulè). Also known as the monument of the Agonothetes, it was erected in the 2nd century AD. Opposite it are the remains of a Roman odéon (covered theater) with rows of seats leaning against the hill. On the left, the row of 17 niches was part of a stoa, a covered promenade. Then you have to follow a long route through the site (1h round trip) to discover the poorly preserved theater, a vast palace of 3,500m2 called the "house of Athena", and then, to the north, the nymphaeum, a monumental fountain of the 3rd century which is the most imposing vestige of the site. The water came down from the hill in 35 cascades to a large basin decorated with a portico. Unfortunately, two columns of this one were seriously vandalized by unknown persons in 2020.
Opening time and information on SITE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE D'APOLLONIE D'ILLYRIE
From the beginning of May to mid-October: every day 8am-6pm - rest of the year: every day except Monday 8am-4pm - 600 lek.
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