Le antiche città di Butrinto e Apollonia in Albania ( Provincia Romana dell'Illiria "Illiricum" ) ed altri siti sono ancora oggi la principale testimonianza di un passato ricco di storia. La città di Apollonia nei pressi di Fier ( circa 13 km ) è una delle antiche città dedicate al Dio Apollo, dalle antichissimeorigini fu fondata nel 588 b.C. dai coloni greci venuti da Corinto e dopo divenne una città romana. Nel I secolo a.C. Giulio Cesare, durante la guerra contro Pompeo, usò questa cittadella come fortezza contro Pompeo. Apollonia sotto l'impero romano, fu un importante centro ed ospitava una scuola di retorica e filosofia, divenne un centro culturale dove l'arte, l'architettura e la scultura fiorirono e prosperarono. Ottaviano, nipote di Giulio Cesare, che dopo diventò l'imperatore Augusto, studiò per 6 mesi in Apollonia, e fu qui che seppe della notizia dell'assassinio di Giulio Cesare. Apollonia fu proclamata dall’imperatore Augusto “città libera e intoccabile”.
Strategicamente Apollonia si trovava all'inizio della via Ignazia o " Via Egnatia" II secolo a.C. , che partendo da Est si diramava fino al mare Egeo. La Via Egnatia prende il nome da Gaio Ignazio, Proconsole di Macedonia, che ne ordinò la costruzione. Gli scavi hanno restituito, le rovine delle mura, del monumento di Aganothetes ( Agnoteti), la biblioteca, il teatro ed offrono uno spettacolo ricco di storia.
Bella la chiesa di Santa Maria situata tra il museo ed il refettorio. Lo stile della chiesa è Bizantina, è stata costruita nel XIV secolo.
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The ancient cities of Butrinto and Apollonia in Albania (Roman Province of the Illiria “Illiricum”) and other site are still today the main testimony of a rich history of the past. The city of Apollonia near Fier (approximately 13 km) is one of the ancient cities dedicated to the God Apollo, from the ancient origins it was founded in the 588 b.C from the Greeks coming from Corinto and after Apollonia became one roman city. In the I century a.C. Giulio Cesar, during the war against Pompeo, he used this citadel like fortress against Pompeo. Apollonia under the roman empire, was an important center and was lodging a school of rhetoric and philosophy, became a cultural center where the art, the architecture and the sculpture bloomed and prospered. Ottaviano, grandson of Giulio Cesar, after became the emperor Augusto, he studied for 6 months in Apollonia, and was here that it knew of the murder of Giulio Cesar. Apollonia was proclaimed from the emperor Augusto “free and untouchable city”.
Strategically Apollonia found at the beginnig of the way Ignazia or “Via Egnatia” in the II century a.C., what leaving from East it was arriving as far as sea Aegean sea. The Way Egnatia takes the name from Gaio Ignazio, Proconsole of Macedonia, that ordered building. Excavations have given back, the ruins of wall, of the monument of the Aganothetes, the library, the theatre and offer one rich history show.
Beautiful the church of Saint Maria situated between the museum and the refectory. The style of the church is Bizantina, has been constructed in XIV the century.
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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.
The medieval monastic complex of Santa Maria "Shën Mëri" was built on top of a hill and surrounded by the ancient ruins of the Archaeological Park of Apollonia. With this construction the polytheistic world of ancient Apollonia ends and a different era of Western history begins "Christianity". This Byzantine Christian complex is built with ancient materials taken from the surrounding ruins. Its construction dates back to the thirteenth century, this effective fusion of ancient and Byzantine architecture makes the monastic complex of rich historical, architectural and cultural value. 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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