Apollonia is a magical place. Its special atmosphere is created by a combination of the unique monuments, archaeology and landscape, difficult to find anywhere in Mediterranean. The ancient city of Apollonia is one of the best known and important classical cities in the country.


The city was founded at the beginning of the 6th century BC in the lands of the Taulant Illyrian Tribe, by Hellenic colonizers coming from Corinth and Corcyra (Corfu). The city took its name from the god Apollo and played a very important role as a mediator in trade between the Hellenes and the Illyrians. 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.


The city during that time was important because of its opportune geographic position, which was close to the Aoos (Vjosa) river. The city grew rich on the slave trade and on local agriculture, as well as on its large harbour. The city also benefited from the local supply of asphalt which was valuable for caulking ships. Apollonia was an important port on the Illyrian coast as the most convenient link between Brundusium and northern Greece. According to some hypothesis this port was situated in the plain just below the south-west boundary of the city, which was also one of the western starting points of the Via Egnatia eading east to Thessaloniki and Byzantium. The city had its own mint.


Apollonia flourished under Roman rule and was noted by Cicero as magna urbs et gravis, a great and important city. Christianity was established in the city at an early stage.


Its decline began in the 3rd century AD, with the deposits of the Vjose river causing the harbour to silt up and the inland area to become a swamp. The city became increasingly uninhabitable as the inland swamp expanded, and the nearby settlement of Vlore became dominant. By the end of antiquity, the city was largely depopulated, hosting only a small Christian community.


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