Ancient city of Philippi


The Ancient Theatre

Located on the hillside of the acropolis, this majestic ancient theatre is one of the earliest stone theatre constructions-since it was built in the middle of the 4th century B.C.


In July 2016 the archaeological site of Philippi was inscribed on the UNESCO register of world heritage sites.

The Early Christian Monuments

The remains of its Christian Basilicas (one transept, one domed), the octagonal church are among the best-preserved from this historical period.

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In the beginning of the new era, Philippi was a big city and in spite of relatively small number of inhabitants, it was the main trading center located on the main road between Rome and its provinces in the Middle East. The last few years, especially after it was enrolled on UNESCO world heritage list in Europe 2016., it became very interesting for tourists. Considering that the remains of the ancient town of Philippi are located on the mainland of Greece, they are not primarily interesting to tourists that come to Greece for sun and sea, but can become part of you plans for summer holidays as a type of excursion or attraction to visit during spring or autumn. For the ones that enjoy cultural manifestations, each summer, from July till the end of August for 59 years, Philippi festival is held here, where you can see some theatrical shows from the ancient and modern times, classic dance, music evenings, concerts and many more. One part of the visitors are interested in this place because of the archaeology and the fact that you can see the remains of different historic times, while lately, there's great interest from the christians all over the world that come here to be baptized in the stream where Paul the Apostle first baptized a European girl, known by the name Lydia of Thyatira.

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The ancient town of Philippi, considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in East Macedonia, lays on the borders of the marshes that cover southeast part of Drama plain. Noticing the abundance of precious metal, wood, and agricultural products, the site was first colonized by the people from Thassos, and founded the town of Krinides 360 B.C. Soon after it was founded, Krinides became the target of Thracians (365. B.C.). Because of that, king Philip II, aware of economic and strategic potential of this place, marched on to conquer, fortify and name the city after himself.

Hellenic Philippi had a fort, a theater, few public houses and private homes. The building of Via Egnatia road through the city, in II century B.C., made Philippi an important regional center. The dramatic battle in Philippi, which occured outside the west walls of the city, 42. year B.C. was the tipping point in the history of this city. The town was conquered by roman emperor Octavian Augustus and renamed The Colony of Augustus Julius Philipensis (Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis) which afterwards developed into financial, administrative and art center.

Another important event marked the history of this city only a century later. Paul the Apostle founded the first christian church on the European soil in Philippi 49-50. year B.C.

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Portions of the city's fortifications, built by Philip and employing large marble blocks, are still visible today. The walls originally encircled the city and joined the nearby hill which protrudes from Mt. Orvelos. The ancient fortified acropolis was built on top of this hill and a square tower from the Byzantine period, built during the reign of Justinian I (527 to 565 CE), still stands there. The city's outer fortifications had square towers built at intervals and gates gave access to the city, three of which survive today. The eastern Naples Gate, which led to the port of Neapolis, has a tower on each side

The 4th-century BCE theatre built by Philip II, one of the largest built in Greece, has been excavated and been partially reconstructed. The forum, built around a central square, can be seen today, as can four support pillars of its basilica (Basilica B) built c. 550 CE and which had three aisles and a dome. A curiosity is the so-called ‘cell of St. Paul’ where it is claimed the apostle was imprisoned but it is, in fact, an old water cistern which was subsequently converted into a cult shrine. On the other side of the via Egnatia, opposite the forum and reached by a monumental staircase, was another basilica (known simply as Basilica A) which was constructed in the 5th century CE. Measuring 130 x 50 metres and having three aisles, it was the largest basilica built in that period.

Finally, the small first Christian church has a surviving mosaic floor with an inscription indicating that the church was dedicated to St. Paul. The church was replaced by a larger octagonal one, built on the same site c. 400 CE. This new building had a double colonnade inside and a pyramid roof but was altered some 50 years later to take on a square form. The area around the church was made into an enclosure with stoas (colonnaded halls), accommodation for pilgrims, a large two-storey bishopric building for priests, and a monumental gate leading to the via Egnatia.

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