The Alexander's land

Central Macedonia, with Imathia, Pieria and Pella at its center, with the stretching plains irrigated by Aliakmonas, Axios and Loudias rivers, with the knolls between the mountain ridge of Olympos- Pieria- Vermion and the coast of Thermaikos bay, is considered to be the homeland of Alexander, the legendary king of ancient Macedonia. These places were the bellybutton of the Macedonian kingdom and it is there that Alexander, son of Philip and Olympias, was born and from there that, after offering sacrifices to the Olympian gods, he set off to conquer Asia and never came back. What did come back, however, was his legend, which lives on for thousands of years; his name and myth left their seal on the future turbulent history of this geographical area, still surviving in the popular imagination as the Land of Alexander.

Three were the ancient cities that were associated with the life of the Macedon king Alexander III, the one historically known as Alexander the Great: Pella, in the royal palace of which he was born, Mieza, Imathia, where he was educated and became a man near the great philosopher and thinker of antiquity Aristotle, and Aeagae, currently known as Vergina, the first capital city of Macedonia, which he often visited and where he saw his father be murdered in 336 b.C., during the marital festivities of his daughter, Cleopatra.

Apart from the historical records, the myths, the archaeological site of Pella and Imathia, these cities also revealed a lot through archaeological findings closely linked to Alexander’s life and personality.

In one of the famous mosaics of Pella representing lion and deer hunting scenes, one of the two hunter-figures is identified as Alexander.

A hunting scene through the woods is also represented on the tomb façade of king Phillip II in Vergina. In this composition crowded with equestrians, pedestrians, dogs, deer, boars and lions Alexander and his father Philip are hunting wild animals. Alexander is in the middle of the mural, on horseback, wearing a wreath of tree leaves on his head, ready to throw his lance to the lion already speared by Philip, also on horseback near him.

Alexander’s figure is also present on his father’s tomb, on the ivory portrait heads decorating the bed of the deceased. One of these portraits, bearing the typical characteristics with which Alexander is depicted – the long neck, the big, expressive eyes and the arched nose- is identified as the head of the Macedonian commander.

In Aegae, the first capital city of Macedonia, the twenty-year old Alexander experienced both tragedy and apotheosis within the same few minutes. Alexander saw his own father be savagely murdered before his eyes and, a little later, he found himself acclaimed king of Macedonia. Dressed in white, in the company of his namesake brother-in-law, he accompanied Philip to the theater where his sister, Cleopatra, would get married to the king of Epirus, Alexandros. As soon as Philip stepped through the eastern entrance of the theater, his assassin, Pausanias, rushed onto him and stabbed him in the back. Philip died in the hands of Alexander, while his assassin was chased after, arrested and executed on the spot. Following this tragic incident, Antipatros presented Alexander to the gathered Macedonians who, feeling both grief and joy, acclaimed him their king.

According to the custom, Alexander buried his father in Vergina with full honours. Prior to his burial, the deceased was burned along with his valuable royal belongings. His burned bones were placed inside a purple cloth and were enclosed in a golden larnax (ossuary chest) that was then put in a marble sarcophagus inside the tomb, the first chamber of which had been rapidly constructed. Following his father’s burial, Alexander returned to Pella to take over the reins of the state while the additional construction works for the royal tomb were carried on for a long period.

At the glorious temple of the Olympian Zeus at Dion, Alexander offered grand sacrifices and organized events before launching his freat campaign against Asia. It was in this sacred Macedonian city that he placed the bronze statues of his 25 companions who died in the battle of Granicus, the first battle of all Greeks against the Persian enemy.

Following his sudden and unexpected death, Alexander was deified both in art and in the cults of many Macedonian cities, while his myth survived through place names and the folklore. The remnants of an ancient bridge were given the name “Alexander’s bridge” by locals while at Roumlouki (the plain area of Imathia around Aliakmonas and Loudias, in the area of Alexandria) his myth survives in the traditional female costume which includes a headscarf that reminds an ancient helmet. The folklorist Ageliki Chatzimichali interprets this peculiar capuche as follows: “The villagers of Roumlouki believe that women have been wearing this headscarf since the age of Alexander the Great. The local tradition has it that Alexander, in order to punish men for their cowardness and reward women who never stopped carrying water to the army during the battle, took the helmets off the men’s head and gave them to women…The fact that the headscarf is only worn at Roumlouki i.e. in the area of Alexander’s homeland leads us to the conclusion that this tradition was first heard of there…”.

Of the Macedonian cities of Central Macedonia, only Veria and Edessa remained continuously alive up to this day. The mythical cities of Aegae, Pella and Mieza were perished along with the ancient world and were only resurrected in our age by the archaeological mattock.

The homeland of Alexander revives through the richness of archaeological findings and evidence revealed by the great excavations of the 20th century in Central Macedonia.

 

 

 

 

Ancient Pella Central Macedonia Greece

Pella (Prefecture)

Ancient Pella

Pella was built in the Hippodameion system, with wide vertical and horizontal streets, creating building blocks.

Imathia (Prefecture)

Archaeological Museum of Vergina

The gold larnakes (ossuaries) with the sixteen-rayed star emblem and the gold wreaths found in the tomb of Philip II.

Greece Central Macedonia Serres archaeological site Amphipolis

Serres (Prefecture)

Archaeological Site of Amphipolis

Amphipolis, built on the hillsides near the delta of the river Strymon, is one of the major cities of Macedonia.

Greece Central Macedonia Serres lion amphipolis

Serres (Prefecture)

Lion of Amphipolis

The Lion of Amphipolis is the first contact with the ancient city, taking place when passing the old bridge over Strymonas.

New Archaeological Museum of Pella Central Macedonia Greece

Pella (Prefecture)

New Archaeological Museum of Pella

The new Museum of Pella displays a series of exceptional earthenware idols of goddess Aphrodite and Eros found in the sanctuary of the Mother of Gods and Aphrodite and in tombs carved out of stone in Pella.

Imathia (Prefecture)

Vergina palace

Here, on the foothill of Pieria, between the villages of Vergina and Palatitsia, the Macedonians established their capital, Aeges, defining in this way the region of Imathia as the heart of the Macedonian Kingdom, that is the administrat

 Greece Central Macedonia Pieria dion archaeological park Mount Olympus

Pieria (Prefecture)

Dion archaeological park

The archaeological area of Dion is one of the most important areas in Greece as it is rich in antiquities, springs gushing through ancient stones, a clear-water river, Vafiras,

Imathia (Prefecture)

Ancient Mieza

In Nympeo, Mieza, within a pastoral scenery near Kopanos, Naoussa, Philip II founded for Alexander the renowned Aristotle’s school, where the great philosopher and educator taught Homer’s epics, philosophy and pedagogy to the young princ

Imathia (Prefecture)

Tomb of of the Palmettes

The two-chamber Macedonian Tomb of the Palmettes has a temple-shaped fa?ade of the Ionic order, a pediment and impressive palmettes.

Greece Central Macedonia Serres macedonian tomb ancient amphipolis

Serres (Prefecture)

Macedonian Tomb of Ancient Amphipolis

A new Macedonian tomb was excavated in 2006 in the area of Amphipolis: it has two chambers, a rectangular hall and a square main chamber, and a built, roofed "pathway", a co

Imathia (Prefecture)

Aristotle's school

The archaeological space where the School of Aristotle is found, is almost two and a half kilometers from the city, next to the natural spring of Kefalari in the northern side of the communal road leading from Kopanos to Naoussa.

Imathia (Prefecture)

Archaeological Museum of Veria

Three large halls and a wide courtyard, functioning as an open-air exhibition place for sculptures, complete the space, where the precious exhibits of the Museum of Veria are being exhibited.

 Greece Central Macedonia Pieria archaeological museum dion Mount Olympus

Pieria (Prefecture)

Archaeological Museum of Dion

The museum of Dion, inaugurated in 1983, offers a complete picture of the daily routine and culture of the inhabitants of ancient Dion, from the Iron Age (1000-700 b.C.) to the

Longos archaeological site Edessa Pella Central Macedonia Greece

Pella (Prefecture)

Longos archaeological site

The ancient city of Edessa spread over the lush plain of Longos, below the rock with the waterfalls, where its acropolis stood.

Imathia (Prefecture)

Tomb of Lyson and Kallikles

The Tomb of Lyson and Kallikles is a small single-chamber family tomb with inscriptions bearing the names of the deceased. The walls of the chamber are lavishly decorated with painted garlands, weapons, altars and other objects.

 Greece Central Macedonia Pieria ancient theatre dion Mount Olympus

Pieria (Prefecture)

Ancient Theatre of Dion

The theater of Dion was built during the Hellenistic years, at the same location where a rather basic theater was built during the reign of Archelaos (5th century b.C.) The seat rows were made of brick and the floor of the orchestra is e

Imathia (Prefecture)

Tomb of Judgment

The “Tomb of Judgment” is 9 meters long and 9 meters wide. This tomb with the two chambers and the impressive two-storey fa?ade, is one of the biggest known Macedonian tombs.

Imathia (Prefecture)

Tomb of Kinch

The Tomb of Kinch, named after the Danish archaeologist who excavated and brought it to light, has two chambers and is smaller than the Tomb of Palmettes.

Arhontiko archaeological Mound Pella Central Macedonia Greece

Pella (Prefecture)

Arhontiko archaeological Mound

At Archondiko, near Giannitsa, there is a prehistoric tomb and a burial memorial from the 3rd century BC with a circular marble foundation, while in the broader area of ancient Pella and, particularly, along the Pella-Chalkidon national

Imathia (Prefecture)

Ancient Theater of Mieza

The theatre of Mieza was accidentally discovered in 1992 in a natural slope, and it probably belonged to the Macedonian city of Mieza.