Vergina about 85 km from Thessaloniki was not very
significant until 1977 and 1978, when three very
important royal tombs were discovered. The most
important tomb is believed to be that of Philip II
of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great;
this tends to confirm the hypothesis that Vergina is
the ancient Aigai, the first capital of Macedonia.
Among the richest finds are two solid gold urns.
Other finds represent the best of their kinds, such
as golden wreaths and silver vessels.
The frescoes on the walls of the tombs are a
valuable contribution to art. The fresco depicting
the abduction of Persephone by Pluto on the walls of
the small tomb, and the hunting scene on the facade
of the large tomb are outstanding creations.
The ivory reliefs that adorned the wooden beds of
the tombs are masterpieces. Outstanding among them
are two portraits--one believed to be that of Philip
and the other of Alexander. A group of three reliefs
from the third tomb surpasses in beauty and
sculptured perfection any other work of the ancient
world. The finds from this exhibit are on display at
the P.archeological Museum at Thessaloniki.
Ancient Pella was founded in the 4th century B.C.
and became the capital of the Macedonian State. The
city was laid out in the familiar “Hippodameian”
pattern of regular, rectangular building blocks with
impressive broad streets and a first class water
supply network. The houses were of the typical Creek
style of dwelling with a central courtyard
surrounded by a colonnade and open galleries. On the
hill to the west stand the remains of the citadel of
the Hellenistic period.
The Museum is on the site of the excavations. It
displays sculptures and reliefs of Classical and
Hellenistic times, figurines, pottery, ornaments,
etc. The more interesting items are seven mosaic
floors found in three building blocks which belong
approximately to the year 300 B.C. They have been
laid with pebbles in their natural colors and depict
Dionysus riding a panther or a leopard, a hunting
scene with a lion, another hunting scene with a
stag, the abduction of Helen, sister of the
Dioskouri, with Theseus, a battle with Amazons, etc.
The museum also shows some roof tiles with the name
of the city or the landlord incised upon them. There
is, in addition, a fine marble dog of the 5th
century B.C. and a bronze statue of Poseidon which
is a copy made in the Hellenistic period of a
Classical period marble sculpture.
In the center of the site lie the ruins of the
city's Agora, typical of the Greek-Roman style town.
It was built after the victory of Octavius over the
assassins of Julius Caesar in 42 B.C. at Philippi.
The Agora was lined on three sides by arcades and
includes fountains, a rostrum, temples and a
library. There are also the ruins of two important
early Christian basilicas (Philippi was the first
city on European soil in which Saint Paul, as an
Apostle, preached the Gospel in 49 A.D.). South of
the Agora are the ruins of Basilica “B” (6th century
A.D.) which marked an unsuccessful attempt to evolve
from the basilica to the cruciform style of church
with dome. To accomplish this, a market place was
razed flat and the Palaestra was largely demolished.
Noteworthy, is the city's public latrine at the S.E.
corner with most of its 50 marble seats in situ. At
the northern end of the Creek-Roman Agora there is a
terraced level with a portico and an impressive
stairway. On this site a vast basilica was built in
about 500 A.D., known as Basilica “A”, and collapsed
a few years later in an earthquake. It was a
basilica with nave and two aisles, a transept and
semi-circular apse. On the western side there is a
narthex to the north of which a baptismal font was
discovered and an atrium. A crypt dating from the
Roman period was found in the vicinity and is
thought to have served as a prison for Saint Paul.
The Museum contains finds from the Dikili-Tach
settlement and from Sitagri. There are also finds
from the general area of Philippi dating from
Hellenistic, Roman and Early Christian times. The
Kikili-Tach exhibits are Neolithic.
Situated on the slope of the hill to the N.E., it
dates from the 4th century B.C. It was remodeled in
Roman times and, in the 3rd century A.D. was
converted into an arena. The theater, now restored,
is used for performances of ancient drama.
The sacred city of the Macedonians at the foot of
Mount Olympus was founded by the kings of Macedonia
as a place to worship Olympian Zeus. Its ruins span
Greek history from the Archaic through the Classical
and Hellenistic periods. Relies in the museum
include a remarkable cult statue of Aphrodite.