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Archaeological Sites in Macedonia

Vergina

Vergina, MacedoniaFounded by King Perdikas in the 7th Century BC it was formally known as Aigaes and was the first capital of Macedonia. When the capital was moved to Pella it was continued to be used as the royal burial grounds. In 336 BC, King Phillip II was assasinated by one of his seven bodyguards while attending the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra in the theatre.

The Royal Palace was built for King Antigonas Gonatas, and while few of the walls that have been excavated stand very tall, the size of the area they cover is impressive. Archaeologists presume it was the summer residence of the king. The Royal Tomb has yielded great treasures, belonging to King Phillip, father of Alexander the great. All of these artifacts are in the archaeological museum in Thessaloniki which should be seen before visiting Vergina in order to get a more clear impression of what you are looking at. The Macedonian tomb with its facade of 4 marble columns,  was a promising find when unearthed but unfortunately did not contain the vast treasures of the Royal tomb. It does contain an impressive marble throne or at least what is left of it. Most of the items that were in Thessaloniki are now found here in the museum.

If you want to stay in the area try the family owned Olympia Guesthouse a short distance from the archaeological site, surrounded by trees, or the new Hotel Evridiki, another family run hotel with its own taverna.

Dion

Ancient Dion, Macedonia, GreeceAncient Dion was an important religious center for worshipping the Gods of nearby Mount Olympus. This is where Phillip II came to celebrate his victories and his son Alexander came to make his sacrifices here before going off to conquer the East. While most of the statues which were not only found virtually intact, but with traces of color, are in the nearby museum in the town of Dion, they have been replaced with copies. The Sanctuary of Isis is perhaps the most interesting discovery so far. An earthquake had displaced water and mud and the building was hidden for centuries under 6 feet of water which protected it from vandals. The temple still sits in the water and a copy of the statue of Aphrodite can be seen there.

Pella

Macedonia, GreeceThe Capital of Macedonia moved from Vergina to Pella in the 5th Century BC and was in effect the capital of Greece. Many people come here to see the exceptional mosaics discovered in the remains of houses and public buildings. The museum is one of Greece's best on-site archaeology museums with a display of pottery, jewelry and mosaics found at the site. The remains of the buildings have impressed archaeologists and led them to believe that the Macedonians enjoyed a high level of wealth.

Philippi

Philippi, Macedonia, GreeceSite of the famous battle where the armies of Mark Antony and Octavius met and defeated the armies of Julius Ceasars assassins in 42BC. Brutas and Cassius committed suicide and the victors spent a fortune on Philippi, granting it the staus of Roman Colony, providing us with the impressive ruins, and artifacts which are now in the museum. In 49 AD Saint Paul came to preach to the inhabitants of Philippi and ended up in prison. Despite Paul's misfortune Phillipi was the first European city to accept Christianity, though the first two churches they built suffered some bad luck. The first was destroyed by an earthquake right after it was completed in the 5th century and the second collapsed before its dedication in the 6th Century because it was too top heavy.The remains can both be seen, as well as the ancient theatre built by Phillip II.

For organized tours of Mainland Greece that include Thessaloniki and Macedonia see www.greecetravel.com/tours/mainland

For most of these sites the most convenient if not the most interesting place to stay is in a Thessaloniki Hotel though people who are not fond of cities may prefer staying somewhere like the Kokkino Spiti, beautifully restored 19th-century manor, on the banks of Tripotamos River in the town of Veria. Also within striking distance are the hotels on the sea near Katerini, like the 5-star Dion Palace Hotel, the 4-star Olympian Bay Hotel , the 3-star Dion Hotel or any of those on the Mount Olympus page.

You can visit these and other sites from Athens with George the Famous Taxi Driver, and from Thessaloniki from Grigoris the Thessaloniki Taxi (and limo) driver.

  

 

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