Hadrianopolis (Epirus)

Hadrianopolis is a Roman city lying in the region of ancient Epirus (now in modern-day Albania, south of Gjirokastra) originally inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. The city was founded by the emperor Hadrian – who visited the area in 125 AD – on the site of an earlier Hellenistic settlement.

Coordinates: 40° 22′ 37″ N, 19° 41′ 59″ E

Hadrianopolis

Hadrianopolis 2In the 1970s a landslide revealed the remains of an ancient theatre in the Drinos Valley, near the village of Sofratikë. Ancient sources mentioned a city built during the reign of Hadrian called Hadrianopolis and located between Apollonia and Nicopolis according to the Tabula Peutingeriana. It was not until 2002 when subsequent excavations and geophysical research were carried out that archaeologists realised they had uncovered Hadrianopolis.

The city occupied a square area ca. 400m x 400m in size (about 16 hectares) and was planned following a regular grid pattern with streets crossing each other at right angles. The most prominent archaeological remains excavated so far are the Roman theatre and a large public building which included a bath complex with hot and cold rooms.

Hadrianopolis enjoyed continuous habitation until at least the end of the 5th century AD. During the 6th century AD the Byzantine emperor Justinian I fortified several outposts throughout the region and is known to have re-founded Hadrianopolis as Justinianopolis.

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The Roman theatre built during the reign of Hadrian.
The Roman theatre built during the reign of Hadrian.
The stage of the Hadrianic theatre, it constisted of a low rostrum (pulpitum) behind which rose the stage wall (scenae frons).
The cavea of the Hadrianic theatre measuring 58m in diametre.
The stage (scenae frons) of the Hadrianic theatre.
The stage of the Hadrianic theatre. It consisted of a 26m long rostrum (pulpitum) behind which rose the stage wall (scenae frons).
The Hadrianic theatre had 24 rows of seats made of limestone blocks, seating about 3500-4000 spectators.
The Hadrianic theatre had 24 rows of seats made of limestone blocks, seating about 3500-4000 spectators.
The supporting wall of the Roman theatre built during the reign of Hadrian.
The supporting wall of the Hadrianic theatre.
The remains of a large public building in front of the Hadrianic theatre consisting of a complex of rooms arranged around a courtyard.
Part of the foundations of a Hellenistic monument in front of the Hadrianic theatre and remains of a large public building consisting of a complex of rooms arranged around a courtyard.
Two of the rooms of the large public building in front of the Hadrianic theatre preserve traces of a hypocaust. They were hot rooms of a Roman bath complex.
Two of the rooms of the large public building in front of the Hadrianic theatre preserve traces of a hypocaust. They were hot rooms of a Roman bath complex.

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Amantia

Amantia, founded around the middle of the 5th century BC, was the historical capital of the ancient Greek tribe of the Amantes. It is located in the present day city of Ploce, 32 km northeast of Vlora. The city occupied an important defensive position above the Aoös River valley, along the road leading to the coast and to the Bay of Aulon (Vlorë).

Coordinates: 40° 22′ 37″ N, 19° 41′ 59″ E

Amantia was built on the slope of a high hill covering an area of 13 hectares. The city was protected by a 2,100m long walled enclosure equipped with three monumental gates. The settlement extended along the sides of the steep hill.

The best preserved monument is the stadium constructed on a natural terrace in the first half of the 3rd century BC. On the southern side of the city, outside the walls, stood a religious complex with a platform for a colonnaded Doric-style temple dedicated to Aphrodite. A series of monumental tombs are also to be found in the vicinity.

Bronze coin of Amantia, 3rd century BC.
Bronze coin of Amantia, 3rd century BC.

Amantia minted its own coins from the 3rd century BC. After the period of Greek colonisation it came under the influence of Apollonia. In 148 BC the city was included, along with Byllis, in the Roman province of Macedonia and Epirus Nova in the late 3rd century AD.

Amantia remained a small urban centre and was the seat of a bishop in early Christian times. The temple of Aphrodite was demolished and a Christian basilica was built near the ruins using its materials. It is thought that the city may have been abandoned by the end of the 6 century AD.

A significant sculpture, a relief of the God of Fertility, can bee seen in the Archaeological Museum in Tirana Museum. Additional relics from Amantia are on display in the National Museum of History. Amantia was declared an archaeological park in 2005.

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The Stadium of Amantia built in the 3rd century BC.
The Stadium of Amantia built in the 3rd century BC. Its stone rows, set in the form of an extended horseshoe, followed a track 12.5m wide and about 60m long.
The stadium of Amantia had 17 rows on one side and 8 on the other.
The stadium of Amantia had 17 rows on one side and 8 on the other.
The stadium of Amantia could accommodate about 4000 people.
The stadium of Amantia could accommodate about 4000 people.
Excavations have revealed that it was used for athletic contests inkluding running races, boxing, javelin and discus throwing. The stadium was constructed in the 3rd century BC and remained in use until the 3rd century AD.
Excavations have revealed that the stadium was used for athletic contests including running races, boxing, javelin and discus throwing. The stadium remained in use until the 3rd century AD.
View of the Acropolis of Amantia.
View of the Acropolis of Amantia.
View from the acropolis of the Temple of Aphrodite and the paleochristian basilica.
View from the acropolis of the Temple of Aphrodite and the early Christian basilica.
View of the Paloeochristian Basilica and the Temple of Aphrodite built in the 3rd century BC, Amantia, Albania
The Temple of Aphrodite was built in the 3rd century BC. It was a temple surrounded by a single row of columns of the Doric order. The temple continued to be used up to the first centuries AD. During Late Antiquity, an early Christian basilica was built near the ruins of the temple, using its materials.
Part of the surrounding wall of Amantia dating back to around 450 BC....
Part of the surrounding Illyrian wall of Amantia built of polygonal shaped masonry and dating back to around 450 BC.
One of the city gates of Amantia with archway belonging to the second phase of construction of the city.
One of the city gates of Amantia with archway belonging to the second phase of construction of the city.
One of the city gates of Amantia.
One of the city gates of Amantia.
God of fertility holding a cornucopia, 3rd-2nd century BC, from Amantia, Archaeological Museum of Tirana.
God of fertility holding a cornucopia, 3rd-2nd century BC, from Amantia, Archaeological Museum of Tirana.
The ruins of the abandoned Archaeological Museum of Amantia.
The ruins of the abandoned Archaeological Museum of Amantia.
The Archaeological Park of Amantia.
The Archaeological Park of Amantia.

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