The Corinthian colony tour continues with the site of Apollonia in south-central Albania. Like the site of Dyrrachium, Apollonia was founded in 588 BC as a Greek colony by inhabitants of Corcyra (Corfu) and Corinth, and remained a significant coastal site through late antiquity. But unlike Dyrrachium, the harbor silted up in later antiquity and the urban center declined; there was no significant medieval or modern settlement other than the monastic community of St. Mary. One benefit of this occupational history, however, is that the site is relatively well preserved (isolated from the nearest town of Fier) and visually dominates the surrounding countryside.
Excavations since the early 20th century by Austrian, French, and Albanian archaeologists have revealed impressive buildings of the Hellenistic-Roman era–a bouleuterion, monumental facade, odeon, stoas, nymphaeum, and a library, among others–but only about 4% of the intramural space has been excavated. The really impressive remains for me were the fortification walls (a composite of classical-late antique periods) and the 13th century church and monastery of St. Mary. I was also impressed by the overall lay of the site on a rise dominating its territory.
As with Dyrrachium, very few building remains have been documented from the time of the archaic colony, but the necropolis, which has recently been investigated by the Albanian Rescue Archaeology Unit, contains some burials of archaic and classical date.
When I visited the site yesterday, there were few visitors there other than 50 little children on a school trip. With the spring flowers still in bloom, it was beautiful.