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After boarding your coach we will drive the 49 km northwest to Apollonia. En-route your guide will provide information about Albania. The journey will take an hour and a half before you arrive at Apollonia.
This was the most important Greek colony in Albania, a huge city founded in 588 BC on a hill by the sea by a small group of 200 colonists from Corfu and Corinth. Its wealth came from trade brought from the sea and interior by the River Vjosa before it’s course changed dramatically in the 3rd century AD after an earthquake. Slaves and agricultural products from the rich farmland were the main exports. The city was originally named Gylacea, after its founder, but later it took the name of its patron god, Apollo. A major regional power it was involved in wars with the Illyrians and Macedonians in 260 BC and in 229 it fell into the power of the Romans.
By 148 BC it formed part of the Roman province of Macedonia and played a crucial part in the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great in 45-44 BC when it was a vital stronghold for Caesar. Later Caesar’s heir Octavian (later the emperor Augustus) studied the art of rhetoric there for six months. The states man Cicero noted is a ‘magna urbset gravis’ -a great and important city- and certainly it was the largest in ancient Albania. It was an early centre of Christianity, with bishops attending important church councils in AD 431 and 451, though the loss of its trade with the movement of the river made it decline rapidly and by the middle ages it was all but forgotten.
The city was ‘rediscovered’ by Austrian Archaeologists in the Firsts World War and then excavated by the French archaeologist Leon Rey from 1924-1938. More major and important work has been carried out since then by the Universities of the Sorbonne and Grenoble working with their Albanian colleagues and as a result the visitor can now see a range of the monuments. The Agora, or market place, with its grand stoats, the theatre, and temples and a fine new museum with wonderful finds is now housed in the Byzantine monastery which forms the centrepiece of the site. A visit takes about an hour and a half.
After lunch we will drive to Vlora to see the great independence monument and visit the city centre.
Tour of Apollonia.
Images from the tour