In the 13th century, a group of Christian believers found the Monastery and Church of Santa Maria, reusing stones and columns recovered from the remains of ancient Apollonia. The monastery seems to have been built above the ruins of an old temple of Apollo, inside it houses the Archaeological Museum, where statues, amphorae and coins brought to light during the excavations are kept.
The surrounding monastic complex, the defensive walls and the bell tower, date back to various moments in the history of the monastery, from the 13th to the 20th century. The monks' cells were located on the north and west sides; on the southern side is the bell tower, rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century.
At the center of the site is the church of Santa Maria "Shën Mëri", dating back to the 13th-14th century AD.
The church, built between 1250-1270 on the remains of an older church, is unique in Albania for the unusual configuration of its cruciform shape and was built in part from the spolia of the ancient theater. The entire interior of this chapel built in the Byzantine style was once covered with paintings. The church presents the first four icons of the iconostasis. Here and there on the walls you can see bas-reliefs of the ancient city of Apollonia. The chapel is dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady, Santa Maria, celebrated on August 15 each year, the day when a regional fair is held in the area.
The surrounding monastic complex, the defensive walls and the bell tower, date back to different moments in the history of the monastery, from the 13th to the 20th century.
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