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Fieri ( or ) is a city in southwest Albaniamarker, in the districtmarker and countymarker of the same name. It is located at , and has a population of 82,297 (2005). Fier is from the ruins of the ancient Corinthianmarker city of Apolloniamarker.

History

The history of Fier is bound up with that of the oil, gas and bitumen deposits nearby. It was founded by the Vrioni family, beys of Berat, as a market town in the 18th century. The presence of asphalt and burning escapes of natural gas in the vicinity was recorded as early as the 1st century AD. Dioscorides, in Materia Medica, describes lumps of bitumen in the adjacent river Seman, and the concentrated pitch on the banks of the Vjosa river, Strabo, writing in about A.D 17th states:

" On the territory of the people of Apolonia in Illlyria there is what is called a nymphaeum. It is a rock which emits fire. Below it are springs flowing with hot water and asphalt... the asphalt is dug out of a neighboring hill: the parts excavated are replaced by fresh earth, which in time is converted to asphalt."slm

Industry and Tourism

Fier is an important industrial city and is built by the Gjanica tributary of the Seman river, and is surrounded by marshland. With nearby Patos town, it is the centre of the oil, bitumen and chemical industries in Albania. Fier is a convenient place to stay to visit the major Classical sites at nearby Byllismarker and Apolonia. The population is mixed Orthodox and Muslim (typical of southern Albanian cities). Main roads from the central square lead south to Vlora ( ) and east to the oil and chemical town of Patos ( ). City of Fier had the first Cable Television in Albania 12.20.1995, TV AVN (Albania Video Network) with founder and president Fatos Mihali. Today in Fieri there are many other TV and radio stations. Just to mention some, there is TV KOMBI, TV APOLLON, Radio Fieri, Radio +3 and Radio Star.

Apollonia

Twelve km away from Fier is situated Apolloniamarker, one of the two most important ancient Greek colonial settlements in Albania. It was founded in 600 BC on a hill near the sea, and near what was then the course of Vjosa river by settlers from Corfumarker and Corinthmarker. At the time before the changes in land formation and the Adriaticmarker coastline caused by an earthquake in the 3 century A.D, the harbour af Apollonia could accommodate as many as 100 ships. The site is thought to be on the sothern boundary of a native Illyrian settlement, being mentioned in Periplus, a sailor's account of the Adriatic written in the middle of the 4th century BC by a Greek writer. It was near the territory occupied by the Illyrian tribes and close to the Greekmarker tribe of the Chaonians. The colony was said to have been named Gylaceiamarker after its Corinthianmarker founder, Gylax, and later changed its name to that of city of the God Apollo. According to archaeological investigations for 100 years Greek and Illyrian have lived in separate communities.

The economic prosperity of Apolonia grew on the basis of trade in slaves, and the local rich pastoral agricultural. 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. In the years 214 B.C onwards the city was involved in the war between the Illyrian Taulanti and Cassander, the king of Macedonia, and in 229 B.C came under Roman control. In 168 B.C, its loyalty to Rome was rewarded. For 200 years it was of central importance in the Roman effort to colonize the east and may have been an original terminus of the Egnatian Way. It was a vital stronghold for Caesar in the civil war between Pompey and Julius Caesar. In 45 and 44 B.C, Octavian, later to become the Emperor Augustus, studied for 6 months in Apolonia, which had established a high reputation as a center of Greek learning, especially the art of rhetoric. It was noted by Cicero, in the Philippics, as 'magna urbs et gravis' a great and important city.

Under the Empire Apolonia remained a prosperous center, but begun to decline as the Vjosa silted up and the coastline changed after the earthquake.

The Excavations and the Monuments of Apolonia

The first attempts to conduct excavations in Apolonia 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 1824 by a French archaeological mission directed by Leon Rey, who brought to light a complex of monuments at the center of the city. A lot of excavations have been made by Albanian archaeologists during the last 40 years. Many objects are exhibited in the museum which has been the monastery of St. Mary.

The Monument of Agonothetes

This monument decorated the center 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 Artemismarker (Diana). At the eastern side there is a street which passes under a triumphal archmarker. On the opposite side of the monument of the Agonothetes, there is a colonnade decorated with marble statues.

The Library and the Odeon

This structure rises 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 House with Mosaics

Mosque in Fier.
A couple of meters away was cavated a rich Apolonian 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

The Fontana represents in itself a complex structure; it had a wall which collected all the waters that sprang from the earth, and four other aqueducts.

The Museum of Apolonia

The Museum of Apollina has 7 pavilions, a gallery and 2 porticos. Here are exhibited different objects that testify to the history of Apolonia.

The Church of St. Mary

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.

Fier city official website



Famous people



References

  1. Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0631198075,Page 96,"... whose land is the city Epidamnus. A river flows by the city, by name the Palamnus. Then from Epidamnus to Apollonia, a Greek city, the journey on foot takes two days. Apollonia lies fifty stades from the sea and the river ..."
  2. Hammond, NGL (1994). Philip of Macedon. London, UK: Duckworth. "Epirus was a land of milk and animal products...The social unit was a small tribe, consisting of several nomadic or semi-nomadic groups, and these tribes, of which more than seventy names are known, coalesced into large tribal coalitions, three in number: Thesprotians, Molossians and Chaonians...We know from the discovery of inscriptions that these tribes were speaking the Greek language (in a West-Greek dialect)"

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Fier is twinned with:

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