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Fieri 
 
 
Fier was founded in the eighteenth century. It has a population of 37,000 inhabitants. Fier has a brick and tile factory, chemical fertilizer plant, a thermo-electric power station (75,000KW), and oil refinery. 12 km away from Fier, is situated Apollonia, the most important archaeological centre in the country. Apollonia was founded at the beginning of the 6th century B.C. (year 588) by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra. Apollonia is one of 30 ancient towns dedicated to the God Apollo. Cicero, described it as 'magna urbs et gravis ...' A great and important city'. It is situated near Aos river (today Vjosa) and on one of the fertile plains of southern Illyria, inhabited by the Taulantian Illyrians. An important factor, responsible for the economic and cultural development of Illyrian Apollonia, was the exploitation of the riches of the place and the intercourse with the Illyrians. This made it possible for the town to break away from the mother cities that had founded it.  In the middle of the 5th century B.C. a workshop for minting coins was set up here. Through trade and commercial transactions these coins spread throughout Illyria and beyond its boundaries. Apollonia was conscious of the strength of the Illyrians not only in its surroundings, as it witnessed the establishment of the State of the Taulants, but within the town itself where a great number of Illyrians had settled, occupying some of  the highest posts in its administration, economic and cultural life. By the 2nd century B.C. Apollonia had a population of 55,000 inhabitants. In the first century B.C. Julius Caesar used its citadel as a stronghold against Pompey and as a reward for its support of Caesar, Apollonia was granted the status of a free city. It was a cultural centre, where art, architecture and sculpture flourished. At this time Octavianus Augustus (the first Roman Emperor) and Agrippa, his close friend and associate came to study at the famous school of Apollonia. It was here that they learned the news of the assassination of Caesar. In the 3rd century A.D. the earthquakes changed the direction of the Aos river and brought the decline of Apollonia.  The Excavations and the Monuments of Apollonia : The first attempts to conduct excavations in Apollonia were made during the first World War, by Austrian archaeologists who unearthed and explored mainly the walls that encircled the city. Systematic excavations began in 1924 by a French archaeological mission headed by Leon Rey, who brought to light a complex of monuments at the centre of the city. A lot of excavations have been made by Albanian archaeologists during the last 20 years. Many objects are exhibited in the museum which has been the monastery of St. Mary.  The Encircling Wall: Apollonia is surrounded by a protecting wall, with a perimeter of some 4,500 metres and a thickness of 3.40 metres. The wall was constructed during the 4th century B.C.  The Terraced Wall with the Arched Gates : In the centre of the city a terrace wall has come to light, which is linked with the encircling wall. In front of the wall rises a cylindrical alter, where the people offered their sacrifices before entering the precincts of the temple. Near the altar stands an obelisk dedicated to Apollo.  The Monument of Agonothetes : This monument decorated the centre of the city. The structure had the form of a semicircle and served as an assembly place of the council of the city - the Bule. The front part of the structure was decorated in a special manner: there are 6 pillars crowned with capitals of the Corinthian style. An inscription dating from the middle of the 2nd century A.D. tells that the building was constructed by high ranking officers of the city, a monument with the purpose of commemorating the death of his soldier brother. On the day of the inauguration of the monument, a show was staged in the city with the participation of 25 couples of gladiators.  On the western side, from the top of the monumental structure, the tourists can see the ruins of the small temple of Artemis (Diana). At the eastern side there is a street which passes under a triumphal arch. On the opposite side of the monument of the Agonothetes, there is a colonnade decorated with marble statues.  The Library and the Odeon : rise behind the colonnade. Opposite the monument of Aganothetes stands an Odeon or 'small theatre' for 200 spectators. The building had a stage, an orchestra and tiers. There they gave musical shows, recitals, and held oratorical and philosophical discussions. The Portico : This portico belonged to the forth & third centuries B.C.; but later on, during the first century, it was reconstructed. the portico was 77 metres long.  The House with Mosaics : A couple of metres away was cavated a rich Apollonian dwelling house of the 3rd century A.D.: The mosaics are of all types. There are mosaics where the main decorative motives are simple geometric figures, others have ornamental mythological figures like : hypocamposes (seahorses), accompanied by Nereids and Erotes. One of the mosaics represents a scene where Archiles holds the wounded Penthesilea, the beautiful queen of Amazones, in his arms. Fontana : represents in itself a complex structure; it had a wall which collected the waters that sprang from the earth, and four otheraquaducts. 
 
The Museum of Apollonia : has 7 pavilions, a gallery and 2 porticos. Here are exhibited different objects that testify to the history of Apollonia.  The Church of St. Mary : is situated between the museum and the refectory. The church is of Byzantine style. The interiors of the church had once been painted, but today very few fragments from the mural paintings have remained. The church was built in the fourteenth century. The wall painting represents Emperor Andronicus Paleologus as the builder of the church. The refectory of the monastery was built at the same time as the church. 

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