It is a green setting near the village of Pojani, not far from the river Vjosa. Below, the plains of Myzeqe mix, in a strange promiscuity, immense parcels of rapeseed in bloom, ultramodern greenhouses and tiny fields where the haymaking is done with arms, towns where miserable homes and moult constructions The unfinished buildings stand next to dapper and opulent colored houses. On the roads crisscrossed by big Mercedes also drag carts pulled by donkeys.
Slightly in height, among the olive trees, stands on the slope what was an acropolis of which remains the Greco-Roman vestiges, the most important of Albania with those of Butrint, in the south of the country. In particular, the remains of a theater, a covered Odeon and a bouleuterion where the Citizens' Council met. A little further on, an obelisk stands 3 meters high.
The unsuspected treasures of Albania
These Greek and Roman remains speak eloquently of Albania's illustrious past. At least twelve centuries before Christ, the Illyrians, people of Indo-European origin, arrived in the Balkans where they flourished, divided into several tribes. In this region lived that of Taulantians. It is on this territory, near the river Vjosa, not far from the Adriatic Sea, that at VIe century BC AD, Greek settlers from Corcyra (present-day Corfu) and Corinth founded a town first called Gylaceia, then Apollonia, as a tribute to the Greek god.
This ancient city, which will occupy a hundred hectares and will shelter more than 40 000 inhabitants, thrives very quickly thanks to agriculture and the slave trade, because its port – reputed able to accommodate a hundred boats at the same time – allows to join Brindisi, Thessaloniki and Byzantium. becoming polishedthat is to say, city-state, it is in the hands of Greek aristocrats, even if the local population remains predominantly composed of serfs of Illyrian origin.
In Albania, a "clean hands" operation with European colors
Three centuries later, the region enters the fold of the Roman Empire. Apollonia is experiencing a new boom. This is, says Cicero, a magna urbs and gravisin other words, a great and influential city. Las, at IVe century AD AD, an earthquake diverts the course of the Vjosa, dries the port and turns the land into a marsh hit by malaria. Apollonia collapses and sinks into oblivion. It will be necessary to wait for IXe century for Christians to build a monastery below, using some of the ancient stones, then, at the end of the 12th centurye century, St. Mary's Church, which is still visible.
Since 2012, a museum has been installed, where the rooms offer a chronological journey. It allows to discover the statues, bas-reliefs and sarcophagi found by the archaeologists who, in the wake of the French Leon Rey in the years 1920-1930, continue the exploration of this site rediscovered in XIXe century. Other pieces are kept at the National Museum in Tirana.
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