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Europe > Greece > Northern Greece > Macedonia (Greece) > Vergina

Vergina

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Royal Tomb of Philip II (Great Tumulus of Aigai)

Vergina (in Greek Βεργίνα) is a village in the prefecture of Imathia, Region of Central Macedonia, Northern Greece.

Understand[edit]

The village, located on the site of the ancient city of Aigai, the first capital of Macedon, became internationally famous in 1977, when the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos unearthed the burial site of the kings of Macedon, including the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Nineteen years later, the UNESCO Committee decided to inscribe the site of Aigai in the list of the World Heritage Sites considering the universal value represented by the discovery of the royal tombs and the importance of their frescoes that testimony the transitional phase of the ancient art from the classic to the Hellenistic period.

According to the tradition, the city was founded in the mid-7th century BC, by Perdiccas I, a Dorian from Argos, of the family of Hercules. As other ancient Greek cities, the society in Aigai was founded on an aristocratic structure having the royal authority as its point of reference. Aigai, in ancient Greek means “goats”, and the city is described by Herodotus as "the land with many goats".

Aigai was replaced as capital by Pella, probably during the reign of Archelaus I (413 - 399 BC) and finally destroyed by Roman Legions in the aftermath of the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC), fought between Rome and King Perseus of Macedon. The Roman province of Macedonia was established in 146 BC, and had Thessalonica as its capital.

Get in[edit]

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See[edit]

Hades abducting Persephone, fresco in the royal tomb of Philip II
  • 1 Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai, +30 2331 092347.
  • 2 Royal Tomb of Philip II. The tomb can be reached by a ramp and has the form of an underground vaulted building with two chambers and a monumental facade. The portraits of Philip II and his son, are depicted in the hunting scene of the tomb’s facade. 25 years after Philip’s assassination, the son of Alexander and Roxane, Alexander IV, assassinated by Cassander, finds his last residence next to his grandfather. The wall paintings in the tomb depict the Abduction of Persephone by the God of the Underworld.
  • 3 The Aigai Theater. The place where Philip II was murdered during October 336 BC. The court had gathered there for the celebration of the marriage between Alexander I of Epirus and Philip's daughter, Cleopatra. While the king was entering unprotected into the theater, he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his seven bodyguards. The murdered tried to escape but was pursued and killed by three of Philip's bodyguards. The orchestra has a diameter of 28.40m. At its center stands the altar of Dionysus.
  • 4 The Royal Palace (Greek: Anaktoro) (Next to the theater). Constructed during the reign of Philip II (359-336 π.Χ.), the royal palace was probably designed by architect Pytheos, known for his contribution to the construction of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The complex was sumptuously decorated with mosaics, marble sculptures and other luxurious materials. Row of columns once surrounding the palace can still be seen.

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Cheaper options can be found in the nearby city of Veria

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Go next[edit]

  • The historic city of Veria, a place where, according to tradition, the Apostle Paul stayed and preached, converting most of its inhabitants to Christianity.
  • The city of Naoussa, where Aristotle gave lessons to Alexander the Great as well as two other future kings: Ptolemy and Cassander.
  • The Wine Road, a section of the E4 European long distance path, starting in Portugal
  • The Macedonian Graves Lefkadia in Anthemia.
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