Apollonia is an ancient site in Albania, near the city of Fier, which was home to a succession of civilisations, including a Roman city in southern Illyria in classical antiquity. The city reached its zenith in the 3rd or 4th century BC; however, today it lies in ruin.
History of Apollonia
Whilst the site of Apollonia was once inhabited by Illyrian tribes, it was in approximately 588 BC that Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth led by Gylax founded the city on the right bank of the Aous (Vjosë) River.
The Romans ruled Apollonia from around 229BC and added to its splendour. The city flourished in the 4th century BC as an important economic and trade centre. It was also renowned for its school of philosophy, acquiring fame as a cultural centre and attracting many brilliant students from different parts of the empire, including Augustus, the first Roman emperor.
Though its riverside location was vital in making Apollonia the trade and economic hub it eventually became, it also played a role in its downfall. An earthquake in 234AD altered the riverbed of the Aous, silting up Apollonia’s harbour and reducing the city’s importance significantly, which thus contributed to its decline.
Today, Apollonia’s 137 hectares is encircled by a 4 km long wall, housing a series of ruins including a triumphal arch, a library, a 2nd century Odeon, several temples – including the striking ruins of the temple of Agonothetes – and a city council building with a surviving facade.
There is a Museum of Archaeology in the old Monastery of Saint Mary which houses artefacts from the site and both the museum. The site contains both French and English translations.
Getting to Apollonia
From the city of Fier, the site is a half an hour drive via the E853 and SH4 roads. From the centre of Pojan, it’s a 3 minute drive or 20 minute walk via the SH66 road.
Discover the best historic sites in Albania, including the ancient cities of Butrint and Apollonia.