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"Seaside Apollonia" Baladiyat al Jabal al Akhdar Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel

  The Eastern Church
by TheWanderingCamel
  • The Eastern Church - Baladiyat al Jabal al Akhdar
      The Eastern Church
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Palace arches - Baladiyat al Jabal al Akhdar
      Palace arches
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Wonderful setting - Baladiyat al Jabal al Akhdar
      Wonderful setting
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Quiet as the grave - Baladiyat al Jabal al Akhdar
      Quiet as the grave
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Three generations - Baladiyat al Jabal al Akhdar
      Three generations
    by TheWanderingCamel

Apollonia, sited on a lovely stretch of coastline to the north-west of Cyrene, was the mountain city's port, but the wealth of its archaeological remains make it very clear that this was no mere workaday satellite for the larger city. Founded in the 7th century BC, its importance and status lasted right through into the 6th century AD, by which time pagan Greek and Roman beliefs had given way to Byzantine Christianity and some of the best preserved ruins we see today are in fact Christian basilicas that date from this later period, four of which can easily be identified, including the private chapel in the Byzantine governor's palace.

Time and tide have obliterated nearly all the evidence of the busy port other than the foundations of some of the warehouses that stood here. A chain of small rocky islets created a barrier that formed a channel leading into the harbour - one of very few safe landing places on this rocky coastline - until they were broken apart by the great earthquake of 365AD. Nothing remains of the lighthouse that stood at the harbour mouth but under the water there are ruins and a sunken ship that have yielded interesting finds and promise much for future marine archaeology.

Roman baths, a Greek gymnasium, Byzantine houses, olive oil and fish tanks and two large cisterns all add to the evidence of a rich and comfortable existence for the people who lived here, and - if you need more - at the eastern end of the site the Roman theatre is stunning in its dramatic location, quite hidden from view as you walk towards it until, as you reach the crest, it falls away steeply right to the very shore, the waves all but lapping onto the area of the stage.

Back by the entrance, outside the west gate in city walls, the Greek necropolis forms a backdrop to a pretty garden outside the entrance to the Menara Hotel. The Roman necropolis lies beyond the theatre.

Housed in the museum back on the main square of Susa, the sleepy little modern town that now surrounds Apollonia, the museum is definitely worth a visit. Typically, the rooms are badly lit and the artifacts have a dusty and neglected appearance but there is much that is interesting, from a grand carved marble sarcophagus to a fascinating collection of Roman aids to beauty - combs, kohl applicators and tiny cosmetic pots, Byzantine mosaics and Greek statuary, wooden tools and a 1st century BC marble grave marker naming three members of Jewish family who dies aged 8, 45 and a remarkable 87. The fairly basic signs are in Arabic and English.

Directions: If you're using a LP guidebook, don't take everything it says as gospel. Here in Susa, we found the museum open, not closed as it says.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 28, 2009
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