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Destroyed marble column at the monumental fountain at the ancient city of Apollonia in Albania. Source: Himara

Vandals Smash Monumental Fountain in Ancient Greek City of Apollonia


Vandals in Albania have destroyed a famous historical monument in ancient Apollonia causing “irreparable” damage. Founded in 588 BC by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth on a site where native Illyrian tribes once lived, the ancient nymphaeum (monumental fountain) of ancient Apollonia (Ἀπολλωνία) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near the town of Fier, a city and a municipality in southwest Albania.

The nymphaeum was originally a series of natural grottoes consecrated to the mythological nymphs of springs. According to a report in Greek City Times the director of the archaeological site was quoted as saying “the damage is irreparable”, as ancient marble columns were smashed and broken. The destruction of this ancient monument has sparked outrage in the Greek community of Northern Epirus as it was one of the most important of the several classical towns known collectively as Apollonia.

Monument of Agonothetes at the ancient Greek city of Apollonia, Fier County, Albania. (milosk50 / Adobe Stock)

Monument of Agonothetes at the ancient Greek city of Apollonia, Fier County, Albania. (milosk50 / Adobe Stock)

Vandalism of UNESCO World Heritage Site

Apollonia flourished in the Roman period thanks to its renowned school of philosophy, but it began to decline in the 3rd century AD after its harbor became plugged with silt in the aftermath of an earthquake. It was finally abandoned at the end of late antiquity. Historians know this was a self-governing and independent city. For many centuries it flourished due to its rich agricultural hinterland and its role in the slave trade, until it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Epirus, and later the Kingdom of Macedonia.

The President of Albania, Ilir Meta, condemned the act of vandalism calling it “barbaric.” Meta believes that while the attack was only recently discovered, the vandalism must have occurred during the Covid-19 lockdown. According to an article in Greece High Definition, the attack might be part of a move towards “historical revisionism.”

The nymphaeum, or monumental fountain, at the ancient Greek city of Apollonia in Albania, was fed by underground water sources. (Carole Raddato/CC BY-SA 2.0) 

The nymphaeum, or monumental fountain, at the ancient Greek city of Apollonia in Albania, was fed by underground water sources. (Carole Raddato/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Making Sense of Vandalism

According to Dr. Philip Zimbardo, in his 1970 paper titled A Social Psychological Analysis of Vandalism: Making Sense Of Senseless Violence, the characteristic feature of vandalism is the destruction of property and of life “without any apparent goal beyond the act of destruction itself.” Zimbardo continues: “Vandalism permits powerless individuals to strike out against the institutions which control them and to take charge of the situation themselves, arousing fear in others and raising their own self-esteem.”

However, this particular act of vandalism did perhaps have a specific goal beyond the act of destruction itself. Some have theorized that it was a direct strike at the established history and political structure of modern Albania. The fall of communism brought monumental changes to the country, which was for a long time the most isolated and repressed of the Eastern bloc.

According to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report, based on investigations dating back to 1993-5, the Greek government claimed Albania was repressing the rights of ethnic Greeks who live primarily in the south, while the Albanian government claimed Greece was fomenting separatism in the region. Could this historic discord be connected to the act of vandalism seen today? According to the Greek City TImes article, a dispute still rages about the treatment of the Greek minority living in Albania.

Albanian authorities are currently investigating who was behind the destruction of the monumental fountain in ancient Apollonia, so we should soon find out if this was a simple act of vandalism carried out by a gang of bored youths, or perhaps someting more contrived.

Top image: Destroyed marble column at the monumental fountain at the ancient city of Apollonia in Albania. Source: Himara

Editors Note: This article was edited on 19-6-2020 to remove an incorrect quotation attributed to Vittorio Sgarbi. We apologise to Mr Sgarbi and to our readers for the misinformation. We also acknowlege the date of information from a Human Rights Watch report.

By Ashley Cowie



Hi All,

If it were Bible Times and we were living in The Period of The Judges; I'd say Gideon is the culprit that committed the Vandalism.

Since, it's rather obvious this is 2020 and not The Judge's Period then these Vandals should answer for destroying
A Whole Nations history; history teaches us who we are and possibly where we'd wind up becoming.

Any Act of Vandalism is devastating in principle but, to committing it against an Historical artifact those people must answer for the crime.

There is another Topic I'd like too come back to Albania and Greece don't tolerate each other? How long has this been going on between These two Nation's?

I didn't know all that much about present day Greece; until, I'll say three year's ago, I discovered International News on a local PBS station. They use to do International Masterpiece Mysteries from all over Europe in different language's.

Then some PBS Studio Head geniuses did some kind of switch with the station, and ended airing these Mystery Series.

I continue to get the International News like DW News/The Day, France 24, THK Tokyo News (their weather system is incredible.

The first three News Shows DW, The Day &
France 24 used to last 60 minutes, it only pushes about 30 minutes of News now.

During that migration crisis with Libya and people fleeing war zones between I think the News said 2014-2018, Greece, Spain, & Italy stepped up and assisted the migrants.

Then Italy (if I hadn't been watching the all of the International News I would of thought how awful Italy was Acting towards the fleeing people), but, because I was Watching DW News/ The Day & France 24, along with
THK Tokyo News, I understood the situation that was unfolding was impossible to resolve.

Italy consequently bowed out of The Rescue of the African refugees (they were all coming from Africa). An argument was declared by Italy that they shouldn't be the only one's in Europe rescuing The Refugees; everybody in Europe, should be stepping Up in this Crisis.

Italy went before The European Union, too petition them to help out. The Request was denied by the EU. Italy pulled out of the crisis while Greece and Spain continued on with The Rescue.

May of 2018, I found out from The Day and France 24 that Greece, Spain, Italy had been the only European Countries rescuing The Refugees for the longest time, but those rescue attempts were staggering.

Italy did strive to challenge The European Union, that the countries needed to do their part with this growing crisis.
They pushed that debate continually.

Austria, France, Germany balked to this demand.

I know, that Chancellor Merkel tried meeting with The Prime Minister in Austria over Migrant Crisis but, no one could reach a compromise.

In the Midst of all these Humanitarian activities in
July of 2018 to be exact all of the African Refugees an a few Muslims clustered at the borders of Austria and Germany.

Both Nations wind up denying the Refugees entrance into their respectful Countries.

That's when Greece whose still participating in the Rescue of The Refugees reaches out too both the Prime Minister in Austria & The Chancellor Merkel too send The African Refugees on over to Them.

I kid you not People the very next day after Greece said that they'd take them all, that big 2018, Fire Storm catches everyone off-guard happen and so Greece wind up not being able to take in The People.

So this is all I know of Greece which is why The Albania and Greece discontent towards one another was is so alarming.

Just a side note on The Migrant Crisis that Greece was apart of something ironic took place in 2018, around This ever growing Crisis.

Back in May of 2018, an Vocal response and a crack down on a ship that was overfilled with an overwhelming Humanitarian Crisis was denied the chance to dock in Italy's Ports.

Vatican City even refused to take The People.

I know that's crazy that happened; but, it was the International News community who divulged that bit of information.

As predicted the issue got worse due to the fact this same Ship was forced to stay where they were Not at Italy's Dock.

I apologize, but, I can't remember the many days that Ship had to remain out of Italy's territory on the water.

After, a kind of back and forth between Italy and The European Union, Spain (at the time had a Socialist Democrat as Prime Minister) finally said bring Them here We Will Take Them.

So Spain had Doctor's and Nurses there to assist the Ship's Passengers as they disembarked.

That ship had more women and children, infant babies than I could count. While healing from The Ordeal the Newest Refugees in Spain first Thanked Spain and then immediately began applying for Citizenship in France.

That is one of the reasons why Italy argued with The EU and European Nations to Step Up in The Crisis.

As of right now, I haven't been watching to much International News so I'm somewhat fallen behind in learning what is going on out there in The World.

So after my what I learned of Greece in today's World, I do hope that The Vandals who smashed the Fountain at Apollonia are caught.

I just want to say Happy New Year to all of you and until, next time Everybody, Goodbye!

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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