The Treasures of Ancient Macedonia (Vergina and Pella)
The golden larnax of King Philip II
The archaeological treasures of the glorious Macedonian kingdom of Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II, as described by Herodotus, invite you to a unique trip to get to know them closely, bringing to life some of the lost glamor of the ancient Macedonian capital Goats.
The excursion travels you to three fundamental periods of Greek history: ancient Greek, Byzantine and modern. Ancient spirit, tradition and devotion are revealed against the backdrop of the natural beauty of the area and the view of the Macedonian plain, which travels to the edge of the horizon.
Aigai was the capital of the kingdom of ancient Macedonia. The city was founded by Perdiccas I, the first king of the Macedonians, in the middle of the 7th century BC, and developed significantly in the early 5th century BC, when the king of the Macedonian kingdom was Alexander the First. At the end of the same century, during the reign of Archelaos I, the Aiges hosted famous artists and intellectuals of the time, who inspired and embellished the city with their works. Among them, painter Zeusix decorated with his magnificent wall paintings the royal palace and the tragedy Euripides composed in Aiga his latest tragedies: "Archelao" and "Bacchae".
Philip II, king of the Macedonians, and Aigai in the next century reached the peak of their peak. The glorious king and father of Alexander the Great called in the palace of the palace of intellectuals from all over Greece and proceeded to construct new brilliant buildings that greatly upgraded the aesthetics of the city. Although the new capital of the Macedonians had been proclaimed Pella since the time of King Archelaos I and the great religious celebration in honor of Zeus was transferred to Dion, Aiges remained the place of burial of the kings and the realization of the sacred ceremonies and the great celebrations of the Macedonian kingdom.
Alexander the Great began his campaign in Aigai in 334 BC, to conquer almost all of the then-known world. The goldsmiths of Aigas also chose the great military commander as the burial site of his murdered father, Philip II, two years earlier, in 336 BC, in a magnificent funeral ceremony in his honor. The Aiges continued to flourish for two centuries, still remaining inhabited until after their conquest by the Romans, in 168 BC, until they finally fell into oblivion of time.
The name Vergina was given to the region two millennia later in 1923 in honor of the legendary Queen Vergina, the last Greek ruler of the region and son of the Palaiologos family, before the definitive conquest of Veria by the Ottomans in 1433. Its modern town Vergina was inhabited by locals and refugees from Asia Minor and Bulgaria, just a stone's throw from the foundations of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Underneath the feet of the new inhabitants of the region, unknowingly among others, the tomb of one of the greatest kings of Macedonia and of the entire ancient Greek world was hidden, waiting for it to come back to light after twenty-three centuries.
The historic moment for the world cultural community reached in 1977 and 1978, when, during the excavation conducted by the professor of archeology, Manolis Andronikos, were discovered impassive, untouched by a human greedy hand, first the tomb of Philip II and then the tomb of his grandson and son of Alexander the Great, Alexander IV. Both the father and son of Alexander the Great had a tragic end: Philip was stabbed and Alexander IV was poisoned by the usurpers of the throne. Their tombs left as a relic in modern times a sample of the splendor of the time when the two Macedonian kings lived, preserving and redefining the former glory of the kingdom of ancient Macedonia.
The "Star of Vergina" - the sixteenth sun and symbol of the Macedonian dynasty - lies on the masterful shrine that contained the incinerated remains of Philip II. This is the most shocking find of the excavations, which continues until today, and has brought to light a large number of golden beauties. Together with the smallest twelfth-star urn, as well as the oak leaves and oak wreaths. The museum in its present form presents a clever "trick": the burial buildings have been boxed in order to protect themselves, while at the same time the hill - the "great Toumba" - has been rebuilt to look like it was before the excavations.
The "Tomb of Persephone" and a fourth tomb believed to belong to King Antigonus Gonatas, with the impressive Doric entrance, are the other visiting graves on the hill except for Philip II and Alexander IV, who, however, , were found to be seized. The "Tomb of Persephone" is decorated with an exquisite fresco on the rapture of Persephone, the daughter of the goddess Demeter, by Hades, the evil god of the Underworld.
UNESCO declared in 1996 the museum and archaeological site of Vergina as World Heritage Monuments, including them on the relevant list.
Pella archaeological site
The ancient city of Pella stole the glory of the Aegians at the end of the 5th century BC, when the Macedonian King Archelaos I had anointed her with the new capital of his kingdom. In ancient times, Pella was seaside and was called the "Greatest of Macedonian cities" by the great Xenophonian antiquity. In the years of King Philip II, the city continued to flourish, reaching its peak in the years of Alexander the Great, who made the glorious capital of his kingdom known through his conquests throughout the world known until then.
Pella remained the capital of the Macedonian kingdom until it was destroyed by the Romans, so the capital was looted and its treasures ended in Rome. In the modern museum of Pella, which was inaugurated in 2009, there are a number of objects from the private and public life of the people of ancient Pella, from their religious buildings and their burial sites, as well as exquisite floor mosaics.
The two most impressive of them, the deer hunting mosaic and the mosaic with the kidnapping of Eleni by Theseus - the largest known mosaic representation in Greece - are found in the archaeological site where they were found and are open to public throughout the summer.
Museum of Vergina
Entrance to museum
The museum is located in Vergina, 75km west of Thessaloniki and 12km away from Veria, the nearest city. The museum has a dark, imposing atmosphere that surprises most visitors.
Some of the most impressive and important exhibits from the geographic and historical region of Greece, Macedonia, are available in the exact location that the original excavations took place. The museum was built in 1993, 16 years after the discovery of the Royal tombs in "Aiges".
Hundreds of items are displayed including beautiful gold creations, elaborate jewelry, colorful wall paintings, mosaics, hundreds of ancient items including a richly carved burial bed and others, used by the imperial family.
Some of the most spectacular exhibits of the museum are the shield and armor of King Phillip the second and the famous Golden Larnax found in the sarcophagus of the King.
An incredibly detailed golden wreath of 313 oak leaves and 68 acorns was found inside the Larnax. The extremely small size of the carefully carved ivory figures still impresses today. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Professor Manolis Andronikos, the well-known archaeologist who brought all these treasures to light, while offered important help to their preservation and restoration efforts.
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
father of Alexander the Great
Philip II of Macedon (382-336 BC) was the King of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was a member of the Argead dynasty, the third son of King Amyntas III, and father of Alexander the Great and Philip III. The phrase "divide and rule" is sometimes attributed to him.
According to the Greek historian Theopompus of Chios, Europe had never seen a man like king Philip of Macedonia, and he called his history of the mid-fourth century BCE the Philippic History. Theopompus had a point. Not even his better known son Alexander has done so much to change the course of Greek history. Philip reorganized his kingdom, gave it access to the sea, expanded its power so that it could defeat the Achaemenid Empire, and subdued the Greek city-states, which never regained their independence again. To achieve this, he modernized the Macedonian economy, improved the army, and concluded several marital alliances. The result was a superpower with one weakness: it was as strong as its king. When Philip's son Alexander died, the institutions were too weak, and Macedonia never recovered.